Focus on Humanity
Episode #6 of the course How to make a viral video by Carlos P. Beltran
“Online video has an ability to create a direct, personal connection with its audience, and that intimacy is powerful.” – Fritz Grobe and Stephen Voltz, The Viral Video Manifesto
We can find outstandingly quirky characters and situations, we can tell stories with sensible pace and brevity, and we can use our own unique style and voice to find new angles and tell these stories our own way. But unless we manage to create a deep connection with the viewer, the story will never reach its true potential, which is ultimately to become a shareable sensation (aka viral). And this, folks, is the toughest, most intangible principle out of the four.
Finding a real, raw story is step number one. In order for us to bring the most out of that story, we have to tell it in a real, raw way. This means being genuine. Don’t try to fake a shot, an interview, or a scene. People love watching true events unfold. If the viewer feels he’s being lied to or that the subject is just trying too hard on camera, then the connection—the humanity—of the moment is eroded.
I’ll use an example that the Mentos and Diet Coke Experiment guys (lesson #1) mention in their book on viral videos. Selyna Bogino is an Italian foot juggler who, in 2011, uploaded two videos to YouTube. Both showed her extraordinary ability as a juggler (using her feet). Only one of these two videos became viral.
In the first one, we see Selyna on a theater stage, dramatic lights abundant, wearing a fashionable outfit and fedora and performing a well-crafted, careful routine in front of a large audience. The subject is amazing. The video is brief. The act is unique.
In the second one, Selyna films herself at home. She’s wearing comfortable sweatpants and a shirt as she merely rehearses one of her world-class routines.
The first video got 54,000 views on YouTube. The second video reached 1.6 million unique views in just a few days. I’m sure you know by now why the second video went viral while the first one, as elaborate and flashy as it was, did not.
Seeing Selyna surrounded by the modest simplicity of her home as she merely rehearsed in comfortable clothes made her much more human, more relatable, and ultimately more appealing to a broader audience. This is honesty. This is humanity.
The first three principles are ones most video producers follow successfully. They are tangible. But achieving a high level of connection with the audience depends on how relatable you are able to make the story to the viewer. In a way, the first three principles are the basis of the fourth. They pave the way to a story that, told the right way, will connect with the world.
There’s a reason why not everyone is making viral videos. It’s not easy; it takes preparation and consideration in order to achieve the emotional connection that would propel anyone, anywhere, to share your content.
And that leads us to tomorrow’s lesson: Clickability and Shareability.
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