How to Make Your Home Video Go Viral

Tara Chang / February 28, 2014

The proliferation of online video destinations – YouTube , Facebook, DailyMotion and other platforms – means that online video viewership has reached an all-time high. More than 89 million people are watching over 1.2 billion online videos, according to Comscore. 

The growth of online video has created an interesting phenomenon that allows home videos to gain mass viewership and “go viral”. Who knew that someone’s baby playing basketball or some guy finding his iPhone in the snow could get so many viewers interested?

But the massive amount of video online also means that there is a lot of noise in the market and it is tough even for brands and professional video production companies to break through, let alone amateurs with home movies.

So, to help home videos break through the clutter, we’ve analyzed some of our favorite home videos and created a list of home video best practices. 

Use Novelty to Draw in Audiences
Ski Slope iPhone Found with Metal Detector & GoPro broke 100,000 views in its first 24 hours.

Your home video does not have to have a 100 million view video to be considered viral. Video of Chris Wong finding his phone on a ski slop has been the talk of Good Morning America, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. His was a classic tale of conflict and triumph that presented a creative new solution. By offering a novel solution of finding your lost iPhone with a metal detector, the video encourages users to share the content with their friends. The video has reached various technology sites and enthusiasts who have shared the video with their immediate communities generating earned media for Wong.


Bring the SHOCK! Factor
Unbelievable Kid does a Trick Shot garnered more than 13 million views and over 157,000 social interactions. The kid was later featured in videos with Jimmy Kimmel, Gregg Marshall, Channing Tatum and Bradley Cooper.


The element of surprise and shock goes a long way for online videos, both branded and unbranded. Embracing the shock of some of your home videos will allow the video to gain traction in the broader market. Viewers who watch videos with shocking, or unexpected, events are more likely rewind and watch again to understand what they just saw. The presence of rewind behavior indicates engaged viewership and engagement leads to a higher likelihood of earned media.


Draw on humor and obscurity to create conversation
Double Rainbow captured a bizarre moment and generated viewership of 122.6 million views.

Humor and obscurity lead viewers to buzz about your video. When viewers are buzzing about a video on social media, publications take notice and want to learn about  the story behind the video. Once publications start writing about a home video, it starts generating earned media. Double Rainbow was released on January 8, 2010 by MMA Fighter Paul “Bear” Vasquez and since then he has created additional videos, including an explanation video to comment on his Double Rainbow experience, which helped to drive 49% earned media.


Put a charming baby front-and-center
Charlie Bit my Finger amped up the cute factor for a return of more than 906.4 million views.

When all else fails, get a very cute baby, with a great accent, and you’ve got yourself a viral hit.  Charlie and his big brother created such excitement in the market that after the first month, copies and derivative videos began appearing online. Some derivative videos showed other kids’ reactions to Charlie Bit My Finger, while others mimicked the original content. When a video can encourage users to create their own content, this is what will extend the reach beyond the first original viral video. 

But getting a home video to go viral isn’t just about the content of the video. You have to give your video a little help by tapping into your social networks and those of your friends.  If you have a great video, tweet about it, post it to your social platforms and even reach out to a few news outlets to share your story. It’s that extra bit of effort that can help your home video go viral and make headlines.

Do you have a home video that you think should be viral? Let us know in the comments

Tara Chang is a Senior Account Director at Visible Measures. When she’s not empowering brands to find success in online video, she’s helping her friends,  like Chris Wong, make their home videos into a viral hits. Interested in how she does it? Contact us to find out.

Tags: charlie bit my finger, double rainbow, home video, iPhone, metal detector, ski slopes, trick shots, viral video, Visible Measures,

  • About the Author

    Tara Chang

    Tara is Visible Measures' Managing Director of Sales and helped to open the first sales office for Visible Measures in NYC. Tara and her team manages the WPP and Omnicom client relationships, partnering with brands including Unilever, Pepsi, Land Rover, and IBM. Tara received her BS from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and conducted her research in the MIT Media Lab.

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