How to Make Video Content That Goes Viral on Social Media

TikTok was the most-downloaded app in 2021, proving that video content is currently king in the world of viral content. It is prime real estate that you can snap up if you want to make yourself seen, and you should understand what the best strategies are for video. Are you aware of how to jump into the video content world and succeed?

Below we describe some of the biggest and best tips for you to make high-quality viral content for TikTok, YouTube, or any other online video space. So, read on to help increase your prestige in the cut-throat world of brand promotion.

Don’t Make It Very Long

While there are notable exceptions, most viral videos are not very long at all. At most, you can expect them to go past thirty seconds. They often hook people within a few seconds, and you can expect them to convey a message shortly thereafter.

Unless you have a specific way to keep people interested in the video, you should emulate this length. Keep it shorter than sixty seconds.

Of course, platforms such as TikTok already have some limits on the length of videos. While they recently expanded what they allow, for a long time, you could not make anything longer than three minutes.

Further back in the past, TikTok was even more limited. Its first offering only allowed creators to make videos of sixty seconds or even 15 seconds in its first outing.

TikTok saw the benefits of creating short, snappy content. Over time, though, it has expanded its target audience. It now aims at people looking for educational content rather than only entertainment.

As educational content is often not viral, the creators of longer videos have a different audience. They instead make them for their already-existing followers.

Focus the Message

Some of the best social media videos do not meander. If you want people to be paying attention, you cannot give them even an inch to stop paying attention. With that in mind, be careful not to stop focusing on the point that you are trying to make.

Now, that point might take you a short period to set up in the video, but there are ways to make that excitement last over a longer period. Some videos hint at what is to come; others give a small taste of the punch at the start, as you will often see in modern trailers. Although none of these avoid the message, they are trying to put forward.

Have a Point in the First Place

Of course, if we are trying to get you to keep to a point, you must have one in the first place. You should not make videos for the sake of it, hoping that they become viral. Social media does not work that way, even if many brands hoped that it would.

You must be putting forward a message of some kind. This message might be a joke, it might be a scene or scenario, or it could be something else entirely.

Either way, know that unless a video is a happy accident that goes viral, success comes from creating something with intent.

Tell a Story

When making a viral video, you need to lay it out as though it were a classic story. Such a piece of content needs a beginning, a middle, and an end.

At the start of the video, you need to set up some context and set expectations. A middle might extend that and create a twist or do something to inform users. The end of the video would then either be the viral punch or act as a denouement to the middle.

In telling a story, even if not a literal story, you have an opportunity to connect with people. They can go on a mental journey of emotions, and it can help them understand what you are trying to say.

Be Unexpected

As you create video content, any story that you tell might not always be something normal. Your “story” (as above) might have a twist to it. Examples of the kinds of things that would count as unexpected include:

Each of the above has the potential for people to share them around a social group to invoke a reaction. Although be aware that not all these reactions may be positive. You should take care when creating horror-themed content, for example.

Be Relevant to Trends

Every video creator should involve themselves with online video platforms as a user. This helps people to understand what is currently trending in such spaces. With that in mind, any video that you make would do well to either repeat or remix an existing trend.

Trends over time have allowed people to see the brand or the person as someone relatable whom they can trust. You most often see this in the celebrity world, where famous people follow a trend to stay relevant.

Now, this is not mandatory. Many videos are trendsetters themselves, and some of the most unique content breaks out of other bubbles. Although, not every video that you make needs to be the one that others base their work on.

Be Relatable

Some of the most engaging videos out there show off the creator as an empathetic figure. This helps them appear “just as human” as the viewers. This is especially useful for brands that need to shirk a poor reputation or individuals known for their celebrity status.

Many pieces of content that match this style are comparable to the standup comedy of old. The “airline food” jokes may have had their time, but there are plenty of similar things in the modern world that other people relate to.

Don’t Promote Anything

It might be tempting to promote yourself, or someone else while making viral content. This is actually the wrong thing to do.

When people see your content, you will turn them off as soon as they see you promoting yourself or someone else in the video. If instead, you create a piece of content unrelated to you but put it on your channel, people are more likely to stick around. You are giving them value unrelated to your name, but you can then draw them later.

This might go against everything you might have learned in marketing school, but it is a cornerstone of modern marketing.

Format It Correctly

You need to ensure that you are making content that relates to the platform on which you host it. There is no use in making a landscape video, only to then place it on TikTok where all the good content is in portrait. If you do this, you will appear unprofessional.

Think back to when you have seen portrait-captured content on YouTube. It is the same thing there. Make sure to either create or crop your content to fit your chosen video location.

Make a Good Thumbnail

Without word-of-mouth spread of your video, you will rely on people coming across your content naturally. On YouTube and some other platforms, this will need you to make a thumbnail that encourages people to click on your video instead of others.

There are as many thumbnail creation tutorials as there are video tutorials, so this article will not go into the details here. But in the short term, here are a few pointers:

  • Include the title in the thumbnail
  • Use at least one face with a strong expression
  • Use a clear font
  • Create contrast for any text on the thumbnail
  • Use an image relevant to the content
  • Use thumbnails that are consistent across videos
  • Design for a small screen

Make a Good Title

As well as a video itself, you should create a title for your video that will draw people in further. While the thumbnail catches the eye, the title should tell people what the video is about. You might even choose to put the title in the thumbnail itself.

Exciting titles often use words or phrases that audiences can relate to. Some of the strongest ones either ask questions or create questions in the audience’s mind.

Also, remember to stay under the limit for a headline. While YouTube will not limit you, you might get cut off in a user’s preview, which is unhelpful. If you are unsure if your title is too long, aim for around 70 characters including spaces, as this should fit most of the time.

Provide Something Valuable

When you create a video, you should provide something of value. This ensures that people are more likely to consider it something that they will want to forward to someone else.

The four main ways that something will be valuable include if they are:


The video content is something that someone finds entertaining, either once or several times. They might consider it funny, or relatable, or it might tell an interesting story that they found intriguing.

There are almost no limits to the ways that things are entertaining, in the same ways that there are no limits to the stories that you can tell.


Another option is that the content could be motivational. While you rarely find this with viral content, it more often becomes viral if there is a specific thing that people are trying to overcome. This might be exam season, it could be the latest wave in a pandemic, or it might be a drastic political upheaval either locally or nationally. 

Such videos can help to assist people who are feeling low for any reason. They can help both individuals and, if shared with groups, similarly assist a community.


Educational content appeals to people for whom the lesson is both relevant and timely. You will want to have a solid message that you are trying to convey. On top of this, the user will be watching with the expectation that your content will in some way improve their life.

This might seem like a big ask, but you do not need to teach much. This could be as simple as a short repeatable craft video or a “life hack” that the user can repeat in some way.


Videos that allow users to empathize with the creator also have the potential to go viral, but not as often. It is much more likely that a relational video will go viral if it is pulling back on something that creates eyes on you.

The main example of this in the world of viral videos is the apology video. While you do not want to be in a situation where an apology video is necessary, they can often bring in many views. They are also shared in much higher numbers than other videos.

If It Doesn’t Go Viral, Work Out Why

You will want to have good eyes on every part of a video that a platform allows you to see. Doing this will let you understand what part of a video turned people on or pushed them away.

YouTube is very good for this. On that platform, you can see all the moments of every video that you create and what specific part of your content it is that draws people in. You can also see where your views dropped off.

Using this, retrospect on your video creation and planning methods. You can then improve your viral content over time, aiming it at the people who view specific parts of your videos.

Make the Best Video Content

It is likely that by now you should have a good idea of how to focus your video content into a viral format. There is always more to learn, though, and so we offer our expertise to anyone looking to make themselves or their organization viral. 

If you want to see a viral video in the future, you only need to get in contact, and we will work with you to make that happen. Our experts are ready to talk to you about what we can do and what options are available to you. So send us a message today.


DesignLoud is a web development & digital marketing agency located in Wilmington, NC. Our team takes great pleasure in teaching others how to build and market their websites to see higher returns.

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