Secret Ingredient #1 For Creating Viral Content -- Burnt Rubber

Sep 13, 2012

Everyone wants to know the recipe for creating viral content. And while some claim to have cracked the viral code, the vast majority of online information falls flat. While we continue to watch some videos, photos, and stories skyrocket to internet fame, the secret blend of herbs and spices remains elusive to the general population. While I doubt that there will ever be a line by line recipe for success on the internet, I do believe we can look at some key ingredients from previous successes and give content a better chance to survive and flourish online. In this ongoing series over the next few weeks we are going to take a look at several tasty surprises from 2012 and see what we can grab to add to our pantry.

The worlds of racing, the X-Games, and fashion have collided in recent years to provide a younger generation with fresh sports, new celebrity athletes, and massive opportunities for sponsorships. Leading the charge in the brave new direction is a rally driver named Ken Block. His popular online videos have helped skyrocket him from being a well known World Rally Championship driver and X-Gamer to an international superstar. His series of popular Gymkhana videos have been key to building his DC Shoe Company brand. Gymkhana is a set course for auto racing usually involving drifting, obstacles, and a series of tricks. His latest Gymkhana 5 video released in July of 2012 shows off his Ford Fiesta tearing through the vacant streets of San Francisco and has reached over 27 million views on YouTube. If you have not seen it, take 10 minutes and go watch it now.

While the stunts are jaw-dropping, the more amazing feat is being able to do five videos over the course of four years, with each one being more amazing than the previous one. DC Shoes estimates that the first four Gymkhana videos have generated over 135 million views in four years. Add the current views form Gymkhana 5 and that number tops 162 million viewers. More people have watched Gymkhana videos than the 2012 Super Bowl, one of the most watched events in TV history. You can see all the amazing statistics from these videos here and it definitely adds to the argument for creating video content online. So what are the secret ingredients for Block and his viral video hoonigans?

First, show something unique or show something in a unique way. This sounds lame but most online content is a boring rehash of something already out there or shot in a boring way. Find what makes you or your product interesting and film it. Strap a camera to something and show off a part of your process that makes you interesting. The content that Ken Block and DC Shoes captured also kept up with changing technology with interesting camera angles and amazing technical shots. Filming traditional content from a different perspective can help propel your video to the next level. The next time you get ready to set a camera on a tripod to capture something, ask yourself, how could you capture this in a new or interesting way. Some of the most awesome shots in Gymkhana 5 are unique angles and pans of feet pressing the clutch, hands pulling the emergency brake, or tight corner sweeps of the tires. Get creative with the content and how you capture it.

Secondly, provide regular content and continue to up the ante. DC Shoes and Ken Block have released about 1 video a year for the last 4 years. The buzz that is created from each video adds to the hype and curiosity about what will happen next. The shelf life for the Gymkhana videos has proven to be much longer than most viral videos and a year between videos works well for DC Shoes. Make sure you create content that has good shelf life but also builds anticipation for what will come next. If you can schedule your releases then your audience will be able to expect your videos. One of the most powerful ingredients in this viral example is exceeding expectations for your audience. With each video release, the tricks got better, the locations more extreme, and the payoff was greater. Spend time thinking about the expectations of your audience and then give them more. If you want content to go viral, upping the production value, locations, or wow factor will give you an edge.

Finally, I realize that your company is probably not in the same business as back-flipping, energy-drink-guzzling, racecar drivers. But we can take some of their ingredients and apply them to anything. While you may not hit 100 million views with a creative video of your warehouse logistics or human resources software, you can add a little flavor from the DC Shoes Gymkhana recipe book and make something that will exceed your audience's expectations. Now grab a camera, find something interesting, and let's get cooking!