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7 Simple Steps to Online Video Success

Be honest: If you’re posting a video online, you’re either secretly or not-so-secretly hoping for it to be a huge viral hit. And why not? It seems like the most obvious sign that an online video is good. It could be the ticket to fame, fortune, and business success beyond your wildest dreams! Remember the epic Old Spice commercial? The one that spawned a popular series of ads and boosted the company’s sales a whopping 107%? Yep, that’s the holy grail of online video.

As appealing as that sounds, though, success in this field isn’t just about the numbers. Although garnering millions of views can certainly be an important performance metric, there are many paths to victory. Before you start fretting about how to become a viral sensation, let’s look at some of the important factors that go into online video success.


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Before renting a camera and heading to your filming location, have your team get together to answer some important questions. By taking just a little time to strategize beforehand, you’ll go into the creation process with a clear vision.

1. What’s the Point?

That’s not just an existential quandary. Before you start filming, figure out why you need a video and what you hope to accomplish with the clip. Having a sense of purpose will help you to make good decisions during the production and distribution of your video. For instance, if you want to get your business’ name out to the most people possible, then you’ll want to appeal to the widest possible audience. If you want to educate your existing customers, then your approach can and should be very different. Set the goals for your video at the beginning so you, and your whole team, know what you want to achieve.

2. Who’s Watching?

The whole point of a video is to reach viewers. As you plan the concept and storyboard for your video, you need to know who it is you’re speaking to. What ideas will get them most excited? The more you know about your audience, whether they are customers, potential customers, employees, or competitors, the better you can create a video that speaks to them.

A great example of this is UPS. As a B2B service, they need to cater to executives making their decisions in a smart but fun way that would also appeal to an individual consumer. Check out how the company combined formal business ideas in a visually and musically lighthearted ad about that most thrilling subject, logistics.

3. What’s Your Voice?

Most companies think that either tickling the funny bone (like Kmart did) or pulling the heartstrings (like Guinness beer did) are the best bets for online video, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Humor or pathos may not be the best fit for what you do. As with your goals, know what your tone will be before you hit record. Consider what your customers will best respond to, or what voice your other marketing materials have.

Whatever approach you select for voice, make it as honest as possible. Your viewers are smart, and they’ll be able to sense insincerity. If you keep the tone consistent across all of your brand’s work, then your viewers can quickly develop a better understanding of what you’re all about. For instance, Red Bull is extreme, intense, and alternative. We at Demo Duck are fun and conversational. Both brands make great videos, but the tones of each couldn’t be more distinct.


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Once you’ve answered these important questions, it’s time to focus on the technical aspects of success. These cover the decisions you’ll make about production and the actions you take after uploading the video.

1. Quality

When was the last time you watched a dark, grainy, pixelated video through to the end? Unless it was clips of the world’s funniest cats, you don’t have the patience for poor quality. Neither do your viewers. Hire the best talent you can for production. That includes everybody from your camera crew to your sound technicians, from your scriptwriter to your actors. Making an investment in good quality is a sign of respect for your audience. It shows that your company values itself as a professional operation.

2. Distribution

Your wonderful video won’t be much of a success if you can’t get it in front of the right viewers online. Develop an internal plan for promoting your final product. Where are the viewers you want to reach? How will you share the video with them? Which online channels will you use to post your creation? How can viewers search for your video? Use those questions you asked yourself at the beginning of the video process to craft a strategy for distribution. When you know where to find your audience online, you’ll have a better chance of getting your video in front of their eyes.

3. Shareability

This a crucial concept for getting your video in front of the most people. Get into the minds of your intended viewers. You not only want to find where they are online, but you need to play psychologist too. Think about what will hook them right away, what will keep them interested in the video until the end. Finally, figure out what will be so compelling to them that they’ll pass it on. Here are some tips from KISSmetrics for creating desirable content. Remember, the phenomenon of “going viral” shouldn’t necessarily be your main focus, but in many cases, you’ll want to get your video in front of the broadest audience possible. If that’s your goal, try to create a clip that has elements your audience will react to most intensely.

4. Analysis

Remember those goals you set at the beginning of this whole process? Once your video has hit cyberspace, you’ll need a way to quantify whether your creation is achieving what you hoped it would. The solution is a strong analytics program. There are any number of tools available for you to measure analytics related to your video.

Not only is this information key to determining your video’s success, but you can use the insights of analytics to better your future creations. The more you know about your performance, the more you can improve!


online video success

In the end, an online video is successful if it sparks the desired response in your viewers. Whether that response is to share the clip, to further investigate your company, or to make a purchase entirely depends on your company and your goals. There is no one-size-fits-all definition to what makes a video a hit.


If you’d like to learn more about how to create a winning video, here are some additional tools:

Online Video Marketing 101: Five Steps For Promoting Your Video
How to Create Magnetic Marketing Content
Analyze This: What You Can Learn From Video Analytics

Image credit: David Wall/Flickr,zoetnet/Flickr,Brandon O’Connor/Flickr/Mike Kincaid/Flickr

Written by Anna Washenko
Anna is a freelance writer. Dancer/DJ. Chicagoan living in Brooklyn.