6 Viral Videos That Will Teach You How to Make Viral Videos

An image of Japan with different territories lit up in colorful ways. Screenshot from the "history of japan" viral video.

6 Viral Videos That Will Teach You How to Make Viral Videos

Before learning by doing, it often helps to learn by example; especially in the YouTube world, where making just one video can take hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars, or more.

This list is meant to give lessons in what people want to share, with each video illustrating a different example. Watch the videos, enjoy them, and learn from them, so that next time you pour your heart, time, and money into a video, you’re able to generate views.

Let’s begin.

People enjoy random/bizarre & relevance – Japanese Donald Trump Commercialトランプ2016

“Wow, this video is weird,” Why did is it going so viral?

As I write this, the Japanese Donald Trump commercial is in the process of going viral. Created only five days ago, it’s being shared all over social media, and it’s not stopping.

The video illustrates the importance of relevance, but also serves as a lesson in how people appreciate randomness and the bizarre. Another example would be Gangnam Style, a video so popular that YouTube had to create a new view counter for it.

Bizarre/random, when done well, and kept upbeat, can be enormously enjoyable and have super positive effects. Combine this with the extreme relevance that the circus of election for POTUS has, and you’ve got a recipe for success.

Make a change on a popular trending video – Fake Celebrity Pranks New Jersey

Back in 2012, a few friends and I created this video, “Fake Celebrity Pranks New York City,” and the video was so popular that within a few days of it being posted on Reddit, we were going on shows like Good Morning America, The Today Show and were even in talks to get our own TV show.

It wasn’t long before copycats showed up. Coby Persin, now a very popular YouTuber, practically had his career launched, by iterating off our video. After our video was released, Coby created “Fake Celebrity Pranks New Jersey,” “Fake Barack Obama Pranks New York City!,” “Fake Zac Efron Pranks New York City!,” and even another “Fake Celebrity Pranks New York City,” all with great success.

In fact, just search ‘Fake Celebrity Pranks New York City’ on YouTube, and you’ll get a slew of similar viral videos, all of which were created after the success of our video.

This illustrates a very important phenomenon in viral video creation: if a video is going super viral, like ours was, then it’s a sure bet that people will want to see more of it.

What does this mean for the aspiring creator? It means change the place, title, or people involved, while keeping the theme the same, and you’ll be guaranteed success!

Show us something extreme / spectacle – Fahrstuhlgröße nach Pariser DIN Norm?

In the same way that we like being surprised by videos that are bizarre and random, we like seeing spectacle- things taken to the extreme that are fun to look at because we can hardly believe they are real.

I chose an odd representation of this (I easily could have chosen some huge explosion or car going fast), but I think it’s still a spectacle in its own right.

The elevator in this video is so small, that it’s actually something to behold. It’s fascinating to watch the video and see two grown men trying to fit into it. Combine this with the principle in the last video I’ll share (have fun), and it makes sense that this German video would make it to the number one spot on Reddit’s r/videos.

If you have something that’s amazing to see, be it weird, cool, or super vivid, make sure you share it!

Create intrigue – What If Everyone JUMPED At Once?

The lesson in this video goes along with what we just learned. People like fascination. Vsauce, the channel behind “What If Everyone JUMPED At Once?” is known for being able to identify and answer science questions that fascinate the mainstream.

If you can do something fascinating, set a record, answer a cool question, provide a popular answer in a new and unique way (TED Talks are great examples of this), you will generate views.

Strong emotions that are relatable – Time Warner Cable Managment WTF

People like to feel strong emotions. While the emotions could range from funny, to amazed, to optimistic, one of the easiest emotions to provoke, unfortunately, is anger.

A study on the most emailed list on the New York Times “indicated that content that evoked high-arousal emotions (anger, fear, awe) was the most viral type of content.”

It’s easy to make people feel outrage about something, and this video, about Time Warner Cable marring somebody’s backyard with a huge orange cable, does just that. The way cable companies treat their customers is already notorious, and this video takes advantage of that relevance and adds fuel to the fire.

It did very well on Reddit and is currently being shared all over social media.

Just like with having something that’s fun to look at, or a spectacle, if you have footage that incites anger/distrust/outrage/fear, it will go viral (though I’m not personally endorsing making people feel that way!).

Have fun and create things you personally want to see – history of japan

If you’re not creating something you personally want to see, you can be positive that other people won’t care. Content has to be created with passion in order for it to stand a chance of being shared.

You can tell that “history of japan” was created with love and passion, down to the finest detail. Note that the title isn’t even capitalized; with the amount of work that must have gone into the video, you can be sure that this was on purpose. The creator had an idea in mind, and did his best to fulfill it.

He wanted to share his vision with the world and the world gratefully accepted, making the video the most popular video ever on Reddit’s r/videos and giving it a ton of views.

Most ideas will fail without passion. Passion is what drives a creator to create in the first place, to do something well, and to share. Most of the videos on this list were created with that passion. Do your best to engage yourself in all phases of a production and you’ll be rewarded.


Do you have anything to add? These videos were great, but there’s so much more that could have been said and so many more videos that could have been discussed.

Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Edward Sturm

Edward Sturm is an SEO and video and image producer.

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