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Freelancers and entrepreneurs often struggle with how to distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack. Whether it’s a unique website or an original product offering, capturing the attention of your audience can be a very challenging exercise.
As more individuals and brands move towards online video as a way to capture that attention, those same individuals and brands find themselves hoping for millions and millions of views which will lead to increased traffic, sales, popularity, etc.
And nothing promises that quite like the lightning strike of having a video go “viral.”
It may not be a hope or a goal that people verbalize, but often it is in the back of their minds, sitting there quietly, waiting to be realized.
But the goal of creating a viral video is the wrong one and here is why:
Going viral isn’t a guarantee of anything except virality itself.
Just because a video reaches a million people doesn’t mean all of those people will watch another video, make a purchase, or otherwise interact with that brand in any specific way.
In fact the whole process of how videos go viral was explained very well by Kevin Allocca from YouTube in his TED Talk which is very worth watching. Perhaps the most important point he makes is that while there is a formula for how videos go viral, it is a formula that only works in hindsight.
If you think about the life of a video in two parts, creation and marketing (where the viral stuff can happen), there is only one part that you can control entirely and that is the creation. You might have an idea of how marketing will go, but you can never predict what will ultimately happen to anything that ends up on the internet.
The creation part of video is very similar to taking a picture, building a website, or making a piece of art. It is a process meant to evoke a specific emotion in a viewer, the end product should spur that viewer to feel something and subsequently take action. And more often than not we want that emotion to be something more than just “I should share this.”
So where should your focus as a content creator be directed? Three specific areas.
Put some thought into how your video is going to be created. Not every video needs a 50,000 dollar budget, just like not every video should be made on your cell phone. What makes sense for you? Do you have money to spend? If so, how can you use it wisely? If your budget is zero (and let’s be honest that is often the case) then what resources can you use to make this the best video you can do.
Your content shouldn’t be formatted to reach the largest audience possible. If that was your goal you could hire a skywriter to waste your money much faster. Your content or your message should be relevant to the customer you want to work with. Who is your ideal client? What do they want to hear? What would you be looking for if you were in their shoes?
Many people feel that this is something that needs to be witty, off the wall, or completely different to capture attention. But at what cost? Your delivery in a video should be no different than your delivery in every day life. This is your opportunity to show your audience not just what you do, but who you are. Showcase the true personality of you or your brand. People are looking to connect with those personalities that resonate with them. How will you best resonate?
Focusing on the big picture is a necessary part of any endeavor. But that doesn’t mean you have to focus on the biggest picture. If you’re interested in flying a paper airplane, studying the space shuttle is probably not going to help you.
Remember this is about creating something unique to you
Ultimately after all is said and done your video comes down to the intersection between what your audience is looking for and what you are able to show them. When what you create hits the sweet spot between those two points, you have done something great.
You can only plan for so much regarding projects on the internet, and that can be frustrating.
What you can plan for though is quality. Plan for honesty. And plan for a video that tells your story in a way that only you can.
Quality, resonance, significance, those things are worth more than virality in the long run.
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