Home > Internet TV, Internet Video Ads, Media Industry > How to create a viral video

How to create a viral video

October 1st, 2008

Well, I have one.

A genuine viral video

How about 1,234,411 views for one page in September – with no advertising, no SEO, no nothing? Just raw viral power. 

Just in case you didn’t read that right, that’s over ONE MILLION TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND views for one page in one month.

Now that I am a genuine viral marketing "expert", here’s what I’ve learned…

But first one more number…

Total views for this video so far: 2,336, 649.

How did I advertise it?

I mailed the address to my list of less than 20,000 once – then again a few months later. And that’s it.

Here’s the real beauty of this…

It’s not a YouTube hit. All this traffic is coming to my site. I’m getting opt-ins. I’m selling clicks with Google.  This one page broke five figures net revenue in September (according to Google’s AdSense accounting program.)

So how did I work this piece of Internet marketing magic?

Two words: Dumb luck.

That’s right. I’m throwing my away my chance to be the next Malcolm Gladstone ("Blink" and "The Tipping Point") by cutting to the chase and telling the truth.

That being said, there are a few fine points I can share about how to profit from an occurrence like this when it happens…some things you can do to enhance the chance it will happen…and the "big secret" behind this and all other viral success stories.

Principle #1: It’s all about the list

Give me the right list and I can put a deranged chimpanzee in the White House. Just a sidebar: Did you know that Karl Rove was, and still is, a primo direct mail guy?

(Note to Bush fans: I did not say "George Bush is a deranged chimpanzee." I could have been talking about Bill Clinton. Or Rutherford B. Hayes.  So don’t rat me out to Bill O’Reilly, OK?)

Anyway, having a "hit" on YouTube is the booby prize.

Yes, it might generate some "friends" but all Web 2.0 BS aside, I don’t want friends, I want subscribers (list members) and I want thousands of them. Preferably tens of thousands of them. (Come to think about it, hundreds of thousands of them.)

You want people to come to YOUR site, not YouTube’s and you want to aggressively go for the opt-in. If I hadn’t done that from Day One – and mailed my list a great new video every day – I would not have had a good sized list to launch the video to in the first place.

Now, because I took this approach, creating a 10,000 – a 20,000 – even a 50,000 + views per video, video promotion is no big deal for me. I can do it in my sleep – to my targeted list.

Notice all the qualifications there…I have a targeted list…I mail them something great and relevant every day…I work constantly to grow the list.

By the way, 100% of my list growth comes from word-of-mouth. Friends tell friends. I do a lot to grease the wheels to make this happen, but that’s it. I’ve never spend one second on SEO. I’ve never bought an AdSense ad. I’ve never sought publicity. I’ve never tried to be viral!

I started with a small existing list of less than 500 active people and a little more than two years later, I’m closing in on 50,000 active subscribers. 

There’s enough room in this particular market for me to hit 100,000 easily, probably much more. But being the "one foot in front of the other" kind of guy I am, I’m not thinking about that. Right now, I’m look at 50,000 and then I’ll look at 100,000 and when I get there, then I’ll start thinking about the next milestone. 

So please, if you want to become "Mr. Viral" (Or "Ms. Viral") realize that it’s all about the list. Passively waiting for the magic to happen…or buying expensive "viral marketing" courses…or reading Malcolm Gladstone books… is not going to make it happen.

Principle #2: If you get up to bat enough times, eventually you will hit a game-winning grand slam home run

Since the summer of 2006 when I started the video magazine site that this super hit is on, I’ve posted 436 videos. Four hundred and thirty six (436.)

My big winner was video #325.

Now please pay close attention to the next thing I’m going to say:

"Not only did I have no idea that this video would take off the way it did, I also almost didn’t post it because I didn’t think it was good enough."

Please read that about 10,000 times and then send me a check for $10,000 because that’s what that advice is worth.

I remember distinctly being tired that night and almost blowing off posting a video that day altogether.

If I had done that…well, let’s just say it would have been a five-figure mistake.

Instead of being able to write about what a marketing genius I am, I’d be quietly grumbling about how much darn work this web site is and how all this Internet video stuff just is a lot of hot air.

What’s the lesson: In addition to being focused on list building, I work my ass off.

A new video every day. Every freaking day. Without fail.  Through thick and thin. For better or for worse. I get up to bat every day.

I laugh when certain people tell me how hard they’re working – and then I look at their sites.  No quality. No consistency. No critical mass of content. No commitment. Of course nothing is happening.

Behind every overnight, viral success story, you’ll find a maniac who is probably working a little too hard 🙂

Just to put your mind at rest, I don’t create the videos. I just get them from YouTube or Google video, grab the embed code and put the videos on MY site. Perfectly legit. Google wants you to do it (which is why they give away the embed code.)

By the way, here’s another news flash…I never expected this site to be successful financially. It never occurred to me that it was even possible. I built it first for myself, then for some friends, then for all the strangers who started showing up and were really into the topic. 

You can cut me another $10,000 check for that piece of advice too. I just gave you the formula for risk-free business success.

Bottom line: No one knows in advance where their big "hit" is going to come from. You create a hit by putting lots and lots and lots and lots – did I say lots? – of stuff out there.

Ask 1,000 successful people. I’m sure that in 99.9% of the time, the thing that "made" them was only a tiny fraction of all the stuff they’ve done over the years and in many cases it came as a total surprise.

Principle #3: Play a game worth winning

Getting a million people to watch your video of a kitten in a boot on YouTube is sweet.

It’s also the definition of a booby prize – unless you can somehow extract value from being the guy or gal who got one million people to watch a video of a kitten in a boot. (Good luck on that one. Let me know how it works out for you.)

No, no, no. Numbers alone are meaningless.

Focus on two questions:

1. Is this video helping me build a targeted list?

2. Can I monetize the list?

If 10 billion people watch your kitten in a boot video on YouTube, you may get your fifteen minutes of fame, but that’s it.

If you don’t have a targeted list that you can mail to where you know the people: 1) trust and like you and 2) are interested in the topic you cover – you will not make any money on the Internet.

I know, I know, there are all sorts of exceptions to this. If you can pay your mortgage with the hope of being one of the exceptions, great. Have at it.

On the other hand, if you want to treat the whole "video on the Internet" thing like a business, you will think in terms of building an audience.

(Time to write me another $10,000 check. I just gave you the one thing the Web 2.0 people never talk about. They’re always going on and on about "community." I’m all for community, but it’s audiences who pay my bills.)

There’s a second part to this…go after groups that monetize well.

In other words, if you have a choice of creating content for pan handlers who sleep in doorways or a content for people who are wondering where best to invest their 401Ks, go with the latter, or ANYTHING that results in people buying something.

We’re talking about advertising and publishing. That’s the business you’re in if you’re doing this to make money. 

Google AdSense makes the whole process absurdly simple. Let’s pray that they stay in business, maintain the model as it is, and don’t get insanely greedy.

You send your list members to your new video, you surround it with AdSense ads, a percentage of viewers will click on something, and cha-ching, you’ve got cash.

I know this sounds too easy and too unsophisticated to be of any really value, but I’m sorry that’s how it works. No business plan, no cash flow projections, no pitches to investors. You just get checks and you cash them. How embarrassing.

The size of your check?

It’s a very simple formula – another really embarrassingly simple one that will never get me admitted to the "Captains of Industry Hall of Fame":

"Size of list + relationship you have with list + monetization potential of topic = size of check"

No one – not Google, not God, not George Bush – limits the size of the check.

If you can get the formula right, it can be any size you want.

How to learn more

I’ve shared everything I can easily share with you through a keyboard, but I haven’t shown you: 1) the video, 2) the site it’s on or 3) the software I use to create and manage the site.

If I showed you the page that is getting all these hits, you simply would not believe it – until you saw the stats. It looks like nothing. Remember: I almost didn’t post it because it seemed a little boring.

And the site itself? Well, it looks like it was created by a deranged chimpanzee.  Me in this case. I sketched it out on the back of a cocktail napkin two and half years ago and have never changed it since. It’s ugly.

The software? It’s not magic, but it does let me create, publish and promote a new video page in about fifteen minutes day.

If you want to "get under the hood" and see how it all works, plus get additional words of wisdom
on viral marketing (there are a few other things to know), I am going to be sharing this material in two places… Chicago, this November 8 – 9th and London, UK, November 15 – 16th.

I’ll be offering a full blown tutorial on this as a bonus session at two seminars I’m offering on Internet marketing.

No tape recorders. No cell phones in the room. And you’ll have to sign a formal Non-Disclosure Agreement to attend the bonus session where I’ll be covering this.

Here’s the deal:

You can use the info to start your own business, but if you violate the NDA and teach, publish or otherwise share the inner workings of this system, my attorneys will see to it that you put all my nephews through college.

I have three of them and their parents have their hearts set on Ivy League schools for all of them. Did I ever mention that both my brother and sister are attorneys? For real.

I’ve joked about this, but clearly I’m stumbled on a formula that can create a multi-million dollar business starting with zero capital and needing no employees.

It’s worth a lot…and if you join us in Chicago and/or London (truly smart people will come to both), you
can walk home with it in your gift bag. 


Chicago: http://www.SmartBeginners.com/bootcamp

London: http://www.TheSystemIntensive.com


P.S. Even if I weren’t sharing my video publishing and promotion system with you, both these trainings would be worth ten times the tuition.

I’m the only person who teaches Internet marketing who can fill a room with people who started with zero and are doing six, seven and in one case over eight figures a year in online sales.

It’s pretty rare for me to offer a small group training these days and in both cases I’m going to be supported by amazing guest speakers.

P.P.S. I’ve been writing about video on the Internet for as long as I’ve been teaching Internet marketing – since 1994.

Doesn’t it make sense that I’d be the first guy to really "crack the code?"

Remember, if you get up to bat enough times, you’ll eventually hit a grand slam home run.

Here’s to yours….

Chicago: http://www.SmartBeginners.com/bootcamp

London: http://www.TheSystemIntensive.com

Comments are closed.