How to make your nonprofit video go viral

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People will argue that you can’t make a video go viral, it just happens when you put great content out there. Not true. Content is important, but it’s only part of the equation. Marketing is the other, and there are some very specific things you can do to market your video to greatly increase the chances that it will go viral. In this article, we’ll tell you how. But first, let’s make sure you’ve got the video right.

Part 1 — Make sure you’ve got a video worth sharing

Even with brilliant marketing, content is still king, so here are some general guidelines that can help you determine whether you’ve got the video itself right. Keep it short and sweet: In terms of length, if your video is more than 1.5 minutes long, it’s time to start editing.

Funny and shocking sells: Watch your video and ask yourself whether you would share it. In order for a video to go viral, it has to evoke a psychological need to share, either because it’s so funny, shocking, emotionally powerful or entertaining that people won’t be able to resist passing it on. Be honest with yourself, would you really share your video? If so, you’re golden!

Here’s one that is short, powerful and effective: Stand Up 2 Cancer: Change the Odds

Of course, you don’t need to have something this professional. If you don’t have a big budget, it’s perfectly okay to create something a little more amateur. The Pink Glove Dance, which was made using a home camera, is arguably the most viral nonprofit video ever with over 12 million views. People just thought it was so entertaining and it touched them emotionally, giving them hope, that they just couldn’t resist passing it on. If you need help creating a video on a small budget, try using Animoto or Go!Animate. Both are free!

Part 2 — Share your video and watch it go viral

Now that you have an amazing video, the next step is to share it and watch it go viral. Sounds pretty easy, right? Well, it is.

a) Post the video: The first step is to post the video to your website and allow people to share it from there on social media sites. You also want to post your video on video sharing sites. Most people just think of YouTube when they think video-sharing, but there are so many and the more places you share it, the better. Here are some of the more popular video sharing sites:

When posting your video, make sure to tag the video appropriately, thinking of keywords people would be likely to use in a search. For example, the keywords used in the “Stand Up 2 Cancer” video were the names of the celebrities participating in the video. It’s also important to choose a compelling screen shot and title for your video; something that will catch the eye of someone surfing the Internet.

b) Tell everyone about it: Now that your video is posted, it’s time to tell people about it. Ideally you want to share it with as many people as possible, as fast as possible, so you can make it to the daily "most-viewed page" on video-sharing sites.

For this reason, it’s very important to have a strategy in place before you get started. Have the list of social media sites, forums and people you want to send it to, including friends, email lists, bloggers, etc. Once you have the strategy in place, move quickly to share the video, since each video has a shelf life of about 48 hours before it is moved from the daily most-viewed list.

Also, when sending the video to people, make sure to be clear about who you are, why you made the video and, most importantly, don’t forget to ask them to share it!

c) Watch it go viral: Now this is the exciting part. You get to sit back and watch the number of views grow. You may also want to monitor the comments and add some yourself to get the conversation started.

Additional Tips

1. Make a series of very short videos and tag them with the same unique keywords so that when someone watches one of your videos, the only other videos that will appear in “related videos” are the other videos in your series.

2. Make sure to enable embedding – If you want bloggers to share your video, they must be able to embed the video on their site.

Sumac is a complete, integrated software solution that can integrate your online campaign with your in-house database. For information on Sumac or to see additional articles published by Sumac Research, visit

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