If there was an exact formula then everyone would be going viral right about now – but there are still some things you can do to give your idea that extra boost. We spoke to Matt Grech-Smith, a managing partner of Rough Hill – the youth branch of ad giants VCCP who’ve worked on such campaigns as O2 Telefónica’s Be More Dog and Compare the Market’s Compare The Meerkat – as well as Matt Lacey, a comedian who created one of the first ever viral videos (Gap Yah, anyone?), for some advice.

Because they’re both called Matt, we’ll be using full names. In case anyone was worried.

Be bold

“Make sure what you’re doing is unique and just go for it because you’re not going to go viral by being shy or half-hearted. Something really creative that makes a statement is what’s going to travel the furthest,” says Matt Grech-Smith. Think big, and don’t be afraid to put something totally mental out there – when have you ever shared something that’s been a bit beige? Exactly.

Spark a reaction

Whatever that reaction may be. “Make them laugh, make them cry or make them scream – virals being forwarded around our office are things that make you jump or videos of people being made to jump which we all find  hilarious,” he says. Matt Lacey agrees: “It sounds simplistic but what makes a video go viral is shareability. It’s difficult for anything to make itself heard over the white noise of the rest of the internet, so you’ve got to think about why anyone would pass the vid on to someone else,” he adds.

Use social media

That’s how a viral will catch fire, and all it takes is for one person with a huge following to tweet it. “There’s no downside to tweeting people so it’s always worth a try,” says Matt Grech-Smith. “Its all about finding the right sites and blogs and people to go with the content you’ve got, and then try and get it on as many of them as possible.”

Catch the zeitgeist

“The O2 Telefónica Be More Dog campaign tapped into the idea that people love sharing videos and pictures of cats and dogs – and it was also something that no other telecoms company was doing at the time,” Matt Grech-Smith explains. “It’s important to tap into what is now and of the moment, ride the wave – you also get reaction videos when there’s a big viral video, so there’s a second wave you can capitalise on.” Gap Yah, Matt Lacey’s video, definitely played into the zeitgeist: “[Gap Yah] was funny, but so are plenty of things on the internet. It went viral because it played on a recognisable social stereotype, and people sent it to each other because they knew someone like that,” he says.

Have a clickbait title

Simple, practical advice here – give your video a title that’ll make them click. You will not believe how this ends. Prepare to get the crap scared out of you. “The title has to be something that people just need to click on, if it’s in a list with loads of other things then it has to stand out,” advises Matt Grech-Smith.

Consider spending some moola

While virals can be done on a shoestring budget, if you want to make sure it’s being seen by the right people and you’ve got a bit of money, then you can consider spending money on the social media side of things. Yep, those big brand viral campaigns aren’t as effortless as they appear – there’s actually loads of money poured in. “You don’t need to have a big budget, and if you’ve got something that’s fantastic it can catch fire on it’s own, but if you’re desperate for a viral and you’ve got a pot of cash, then do consider funding it,” says Matt Grech-Smith. There are a lot of companies popping up now who help push Twitter campaigns, like Zenith OptiMedia (for example), so do some research and bring in the big guns…

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