What To Do When You Go Viral… Accidentally

So your video of you dog/baby/pratfall suddenly goes viral, and you’re faced with choices… how do you capitalize on the luck?

Can Fail Dog be the next "Guilty"?

I’ve had the pleasure of informally coaching viral lotto winners, from “David At the Dentist” and Richter Scales to the recent Dagfinn (who is navigating his stick the way I manage my career). It’s a small world, and if I’m checking e-mail I’m happy to help a fellow “Viral Video Genius.”

Anyway, here are some of the pieces of pro-bono advice (I never ever ever charge fellow creators) which I’ve provided. In general, the goal is to knock out some important things (getting channel in shape, applying to be YouTube partner, tagging video), enjoy the ride, and hope the 15 minutes lasts.

  1. Get your YouTube channel submitted to become a Partner (I used to help rush that before YouTube scaled back on human contact)
  2. Optimize the video for search. Most viral lotto winners have failed to describe the video, and load the description/keywords with terms that people might use having heard about the clip.
  3. Provide a URL (or Facebook fan page) in the video description with more info and contact information. It’s very difficult to use YouTube’s lousy message system which GOD FORBID they merge with Gmail (I’m on year 4 of that idea). Make sure this hyperlink appears in the truncated description.
  4. Pay attention to, but doubt, the multitude of business propositions. Sure it may make sense to create some merchandise but a) it’s kinda cheesy, and b) It won’t be a drop in the bucket relative to ad revenue.
  5. Pray the viral viewing continues. By my best guess, David at the Dentist has paid for an Ivy League college with his viral clip, which has surpassed 100 million views.
  6. Be open to a sponsorship ($5-$20,ooo) but that depends on timing and the content. It’s unlikely these will keep rolling in, so be selective and more while the video is hot. It’s generally hard to find these… they kinda have to come to you.
  7. If you’re lucky enough to get national media inquiries DO IT. It’s free (except hotel/travel), but it will drive views and intrigue. If you are going to merchandise, here’s a way to promote that subtly. For instance don’t pimp a website, but consider wearing a t-shirt that celebrates your viralicity.
  8. If you plan on creating more videos, then ask viewers to subscribe. Also create a good looking YouTube channel page… otherwise people won’t even think about subscribing… they’ll just think it’s a one-hit wonder.
  9. Post more videos but do not expect anywhere near the views. For proof, check the other videos on any channel that has a viral one. It’s very rare to see, for instance, a second “Charlie Bit My Finger” do anything even close to the first. Still worth trying.
  10. If you want to do some audience development and promotion, check out my free eBook called “How To Get Popular on YouTube Without Any Talent” (version 4). If you really want to get fancy, pick up my real book “Beyond Viral“).
You get typos when you get an eBook cover designed on Fiverr.com for $5


13 Replies to “What To Do When You Go Viral… Accidentally”

  1. I actually had a video of my nephew start to go viral that my brother gave me to post online, but later my sister-in-law didn’t feel comfortable about it, so I took it down for her. A little while later, someone else had apparently copied it and before we knew it, it was all over Perez Hilton, Insider Edition on TV, and there were literally thousands of copies of it around the web. My brother and I were trying to get it taken down from as many places as possible, but once Yahoo and Bing featured it, he gave up… and we got absolutely nothing out of the deal. True story.

  2. heh the resolution on this monitor and my tired eyes says that the book, How to becomes a …. survival guide by NUTS.

    if I ever got a viral vid I figure I’d just call you up and cut you in at some %.

    when you think about it we should be able to put our collective brains together and come up with something.

    it’s all in the timing

  3. Hey Nalts,
    a friend of mine recently had one of her videos go super viral. It’s been on national t.v. like the Morning show and now is even on the Ellen Shows website and top favorited on her youtube channel. The channel name is TheMomof6boys and it’s of a little child escaping from her crib. You talk about stuff going viral, this thing is going nuts and it couldn’t hae happened to a better person. you should check it out when you get a chance. http://www.youtube.com/user/TheMomof6Boys

    woops, looks like your subbed to her, never mind πŸ™‚
    Peace Ace77man

  4. aceman- ask her if you can use it, then dub it in with 1940s style voices “we’re gonna bust outta here at midnight, seeeee?”

    1. Hey! Ace77man pointed me to this blog entry and so did The Templemans. THANKYOU for posting this. Last week was insanely crazy and this weekend was nuts. I just finished talking to the Ellen Show today and my boys’ video was just taped today and will air on Friday. It is so difficult to navigate the viral world as there no one has really talked about their experience. I connected with another viral family recently and they were very encouraging. Ace77man also was extremely helpful in orchestrating me connecting a guy who could give me advice and an ear to listen. I went from being a drop in the big YouTube bucket to suddenly being flooded with… well, everything. Let’s just say, I had an emotional moment yesterday, but I’m good today.

      As for making a voiceover video – absolutely! I just ask that people keep it clean because these are my boys. I love seeing people being creative with it and giving their spin on what they think the twins are saying.

      Thank you again for this blog post!

  5. You’re doing it wrong on Fiverr.

    On Fiverr you first hire somebody to do your thing for $5 and then get another person to $5 proofread it. Optional: hire a third $5er to directly whip the first two ones for better end result.

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