“Let’s Make it Go Viral!” Secrets to Creating Shareable Content

While at Shop.org last week in LA, I listened to a breakout session from Bryant Garvin, Digital Marketing Director of Purple – the mattress company that brought us viral video hits like The Raw Egg Test and Sasquatch.

He set out to teach us all something about viral marketing in the YouTube era.

If you’re a marketer, you’ve probably been given the direction to make a piece of content “go viral.” We all know it’s not that easy. Beyond creating a great piece of content that keeps viewer attention (think quick scene changes and interesting visuals) while simultaneously connecting with them emotionally (think ethos, pathos, and logos), you need to have a strategy behind getting it out there. Here are several steps you can take to make your video marketing more successful.

Back it up

As difficult as it is to go viral, it’s even harder to do so without a healthy budget to promote your content. Likely, you’re going to invest heavily in the creation of a high-quality video. But don’t let it stop there. You NEED to put some money behind the promotion of it. It’s not enough to simply create a great video. You then have to get it in front of people. And, just as important, you have to get it in front of the right people.

Start small

When you first start promoting your videos, you can choose to only target a very niche group of people. Like the type of person who might really love Sasquatch. This way, you can focus your dollars to make the most impact. Once your target starts viewing and sharing the content, it gives validation to your video (“Oh, this already has 1M views…it must be good.”) That’s when you can go broad.

Collect and test

Like any marketing efforts, it’s important that you’re always collecting data and testing. But testing for a video starts before you wrap the shoot. If you plan to advertise on platforms like Facebook and YouTube, you’ll want to record several different intros. And test. Which ones make the viewer skip the ad? And which ones draw them in? Use your data to find the most successful mix and then promote the heck out of it.


Sometimes, your data is going to show that your content just isn’t working the way you planned. Whether it’s the channel you’re using or the audience you’re targeting. That’s why you should always be testing and ready to course correct to make your content work for you. Adjusting your strategy is OK. What’s not OK is continuing down a path that’s proven unsuccessful, or worse, continuing down a path because you don’t know it’s unsuccessful (see collect and test above).

Creating a viral video or any other piece of content includes a combination of great storytelling and the strategy behind getting that story out. By following these tips, we all can get a little closer to being the next What’s in Your Mattress.



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