Deciding to produce video content is a big deal. It requires time, effort, and if you want a professional quality video, money. Not all videos are successful so if you want to take advantage of the benefits that video can offer, you want to start yours right, and that’s with a great idea.
However, that’s not always easy to do. The most difficult part of video production for me is coming up with the initial idea. Once I know what I’m working with, I run with it, but getting off the starting block can be difficult.
So, over time, I have developed a few simple but useful techniques to get the brain juices flowing. The following tips are useful for finding inspiration for your video production.
1. Analyse Why Other Videos Are Going Viral
While you’re lacking inspiration, and the temptation to procrastinate is strong, take some time to watch lots of other online videos. In particular, analyse which online videos are currently going viral.
This will give you a sense of a number of different factors. Firstly, it can tell you what subject matters people are interested in. Secondly, it will tell you what genres are working well. Finally, it will give you an indication of what people find emotionally compelling – whatever the emotions may be.
Some viral videos use themes – for example around Christmas some of the most popular videos are ones with a Christmas theme. You can capitalize on holidays, seasons and other timely events to create a video that aligns with search terms that people are using or themes that would most interest them and compel them to share.
Cartier Winter Tale
Whereas this week the most shared viral video is this one because of its unexpected humor.
Pepsi MAX & Jeff Gordon Present: “Test Drive”
2. Look At What Your Industry Competitors Are Doing
This is not about cheating or ‘copying’, it is about being aware of the context within which you are producing your videos. It might be that your best ideas are created out of wanting to do the exact opposite of your competitor, or as a response to a competitor. The Mac versus PC adverts are a good example of this.
But you don’t have to take a direct stance against a competitor to make use of your research.You can also evaluate what’s working for them and even what’s not. The number of shares and views on a video should give you an idea of what people are finding most interesting. Look for gaps in content. For example, you may notice a lack of how-tos, reviews or even use of humor.
Mac Versus PC
3. Get Ideas From Other Content Types
As well as looking at other videos, research other online content types and identify what is doing well. For example, blog posts, infographics, images, podcasts. Which ones are getting more ‘likes’, ‘shares’, ‘comments’, ‘downloads’?
Think about what characteristics the successful content has and think about how you can apply these qualities to your video production. You can find inspiration in the topics, the style and the themes.
You can look at these content types within your own industry but it is also useful to think laterally and look outside.
4. Talk To Someone Else!
It depends on the individual entirely, but for me, one of the best ways to generate ideas is to talk to someone else about it. Whether you engage in some good old-fashioned brainstorming with a group or just with one other person, more heads are better than one. You can bounce ideas off each other and refine the good ones.
Like you do with blogging, you may want to keep an ongoing list of ideas, sketches and even other videos for reference. An idea may not come to fruition today but it may fit well with a theme later. Whenever you need inspiration you can take start with your list of ideas and brainstorm ways to expand on those ideas.
See the video below about where good ideas come from. The idea of hunches colliding is a useful one – but you probably don’t want to be waiting decades for your video ideas to incubate!
Where Good Ideas Come From
5. Think In Terms Of Your Goals And Your Audience
If you are making videos to help sell a brand or a product or service, think about your goals and ultimately about what your audience wants to see. If you have any market research reports to draw from, use them. There could be a golden nugget of wisdom in some of those results that will guide you to a wonderful video production idea!
An example might be that a significant proportion of customers have mentioned a product or an element of a product that they are finding difficult to operate. Your response to this could be a ‘how to’ video to explain to your customers in a fun and friendly way how the product works.
My final advice would be to keep it simple. One of the biggest mistakes is to overcomplicate ideas, which can make it feel like you have a mountain to climb! Good luck.
Join the discussion 6 Comments
That’s interesting. Few months ago, friend of mine, wanted me to help him make a viral video to promote his book, and I said how in the world do you make a viral video? How in the world do you know that it’s going to be viral in advance?
However, what you’re saying makes sense. Trying to analyze what’s in such viral videos that tick people. Very good point.
I had seen the car ride videos few days ago and I thought that was just hilarious. What a prank. Yes, those videos go viral, no doubt!
It’s pretty unpredictable what will go viral, but humor definitely goes a long way. The challenge is figuring out what someone else will find funny! Did you ever work on that video with your friend?
I also used to have that philosophy as a few years ago there just seemed to be little consistency between the videos that go viral and those that do not. In fact that is the case – there are loads of videos that do not make it which are great but just do not get into the right hands.
I have read some pretty tough academic papers about social sharing over the past few years and I am now firmly of the belief that you can make a viral video. However – I am not sure that anyone can make a viral video; to be honest i am not sure that we could pull one off – but would of course love to give it a good go.
You need to be incredibly sensitive to your audience and deliver the video pitch perfectly to hit exactly the emotional reaction that will cause people to laugh, scream, squeel, shout or throw their monitor out the window. If you hit emotional buttons and then as well as that have a trigger as to why someone should go on to share it – i.e to make them look good then you are on to a winner.
Welcome to Carol’s place and I love this post. I only wish my videos were as sophisticated as some of these. I actually shared the one recently of Jeff Gordon taking the guy for a test drive. That cracked me up.
I too get a lot of people asking me how they can get their video to go viral and it’s all about seeing what did and how you can do something similar without copying it. I mean it’s initially the idea right!
I’ve never had one go viral but I do have one that’s about four years old now with over a million hits so I’m pretty pleased with those results. I’m certainly not complaining.
Thanks for sharing this and for these examples as well.
Wow, Adrienne, a million!! That’s pretty darn impressive. You can never tell what will go viral, but if you start with what already is, at least you have groundwork. People like to laugh so if you can entertain them, like the Jeff Gordon video, that will go a long way. You know I haven’t stepped into video yet myself but one of these days I have to!
A million views is a fantastic result. I have never had a video reach that many people; at least not that I have heard.
I agree that trying to see what works and copying the secret sauce is a good method. There is a great book that i can recommend called Contagious by Jonah Berger who is a marketing professor at the Wharton School.
If there is anybody in the world who knows the ins and outs of virality (not a real word but you know what i mean) it is him.