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The Elusive Quest for Virality: Creating Exceptional Video Content for TikTok and Instagram Reels

If I had a dollar for every time I got asked “Can you make us go viral?” I’d have enough money for a pretty decent meal at Olive Garden. It’s not a ton of money, but I’ve been asked about going viral online enough as a content creator to give me pause and warrant this blog. 

Still trying to go viral in 2023 is somewhat wild to me. With ever-changing social media platforms, there’s no set way to go viral. (Not that there ever was one, but obscene popularity is harder to gain now than ever before.)

Virality is enigmatic, and social media algorithms are complex and constantly evolving, making it impossible to guarantee going viral. (Anyone who guarantees that you can go viral is swindling you out of money…)

Nevertheless, creating exceptional video content for platforms like TikTok and Instagram Reels can significantly increase your chances of catching the audience’s attention and engagement. So let’s unpack “going viral” in 2023 and what we predict it’ll look like moving forward. 

The Enigma of Virality

Virality on social media is akin to catching lightning in a bottle. What may resonate with a TikTok audience might not even garner a second glance once it’s posted to Instagram Reels or Facebook. 

But what is viral content? Viral content is any piece of content — often a video — that’s surpassed its intended audience and reached a much further space. Over the past decade and change, viral content has gone from the KONY 2012 Facebook posts and cat videos on YouTube to asking men how often they think about the Roman Empire on TikTok. 

What does viral content have in common?

  • It evokes strong emotions.
  • It can tap into current trends before those trends are tired. 
  • It presents a relatable situation.
  • It offers a unique perspective. 

And that’s just part of the recipe for going viral. Timing, luck, and the elusive algorithm play crucial roles in determining what goes viral. 

What the Goal Should Be

“Wait so if going viral isn’t a thing, why should we bother with video?”

Video content is far and away the most popular and highest performing content online. Don’t believe us? Just take a look at TikTok’s skyrocketing growth and explosion on social media’s market share. Short-form videos are relatively easy to produce, and platforms like TikTok have given the Average Joe an opportunity to share pieces of themselves with the world. 

When it comes to effective video content (either short or long), the goals should always be: 

  • Consistency
  • Personality
  • Brevity

Consistency is key with any social media platform. A good rhythm we’ve seen in the industry is posting 1 piece of video content per week. If that feels too daunting, start with 1 piece per month. As with any piece of content, you can repurpose these videos! We’ve seen plenty of creators repost the same video 6 months later but use another trending song as background audio. 

Notice how I said “personality” in the point above — not fun, bubbly, Gen Z style content but simply personality. Whatever your brand’s voice is, share THAT. Having videos in-line with what your brand voice is will perform better than incongruous attempts at using Gen Z slang. 

Brevity is also key here. Most of the popular content is digested within 10-15 seconds, and that’s being generous. You don’t have to unpack your entire UVP in a TikTok. Showcase a single aspect of your product. Answer one question. Do a quick check-in with followers from the office. 

Crafting Outstanding Video Content

 While achieving virality is uncertain, creating engaging and outstanding video content is within your control. Here are some tips to enhance your video content for TikTok and Instagram Reels:

Understand Your Audience

Tailor your content to suit the preferences and interests of your target audience. If you’ve been listening to their wants and needs, it should be pretty easy to naturally speak their language. Understand what appeals to them and craft content that feels natural to them. 

Optimize for the Platform

Each platform has its unique features and audience behaviors. Adapt your video content to fit the platform’s style, duration, and trends. Utilize popular features, effects, and hashtags relevant to the platform. We strongly encourage you to NOT download your TikTok and immediately upload it to Instagram Reels with the TikTok watermark, however. Use a third-party video editing app (we love CapCut) to download the video into the correct aspect ratios and upload the video separately to those platforms. 

Look for Opportunity to Tell a Story

Engage your audience by weaving a captivating narrative within the short time frame allowed by TikTok and Instagram Reels. Use storytelling techniques to make your content memorable and impactful. Some great lead-ins for those videos are: 

  • “So I was talking to a client the other day…” 
  • “This was the moment when I knew our business would…” 
  • “Come fulfill an order with us!”

Tap into Trends and Challenges

No, you don’t have to do a TikTok dance in order to be popular. (Although the On Target office totally did for an Instagram video, and I really think Rick rocked it…)

Keep an eye on trending challenges, songs, and themes within the platform. Participate in relevant trends, and creatively adding your unique spin to increase visibility and engagement. For example, the Disney social media team tapped into the “Roman Empire” trend by running over to their attraction Spaceship Earth at EPCOT — a ride that features the Roman Empire. It was hilarious, on-trend, and also unique to them.

Quality Matters

You don’t have to buy an extensive rig, but make sure you can be heard and clearly seen in your videos. Ensure high-quality video production with clear visuals, good lighting, and crisp audio. Aesthetically pleasing content grabs attention and holds it longer.

And if you don’t want your face to be on camera? Don’t worry — there are voiceovers for that! Take video of an appealing background and record your voice over it, or use tools like Canva to whip up a moving background while you explain your video. 

Engage and Interact

Social media is made to be just that — social! Some of the best viral trends encourage viewers to leave their thoughts in the comments or show something so relatable that people feel compelled to comment. Encourage audience interaction by posing questions, seeking opinions, or creating polls. Respond to comments and foster a sense of community around your content.

Consistency is Key

Regularly post engaging content to maintain visibility and grow your audience. Consistency builds anticipation and keeps your audience coming back for more. Algorithmically, it shows the social media networks that you’re willing to play ball with them. The more you use one platform, the more that platform will (theoretically) prioritize your content.

Remember, the journey to viral fame may be uncertain, but the journey towards creating outstanding content is a rewarding endeavor in itself. You don’t have to be a Kardashian in order to see valuable rewards from engaging social media content! And if you’re struggling with what social media strategy can look like for your office, give us a call!