How to create a video that users will be happy to share

Marina Mayorova, creative director at Mfive company. Her works received awards at Cannes Lions, London International Awards, Golden Drum, BIAF AD STARS, Red Apple and ADCR. Below is her advice on how to create quality video that will work for your brand.

One of the key moments that I doubt about when hearing recommendation for viral video creation is this straightforwardness: “do like this and you will succeed”. No, you won’t. If film producers at Hollywood knew a winning formula, we wouldn’t witness so many failures. Marketers also work in creative field which aimed at business result. We don’t have mathematics, formulas or patterns, but we do have basic knowledge about classical subjects: stage direction, music, film editing, etc. Only when people working on the viral video have background in these spheres, only then chances are that it will work out.

Our specialization is viral video creation: from plot to production; our main advantage – our own stage direction. That is why my recommendations will concern specifically these stages of viral video preparation. Please note that my recommendations are not rules and are obligatory – they are just a variant of how everything could be done.

Part 1. Idea

Magic clichés don’t work. The key moment in fresh idea generation for viral video is to get rid of any clichés, widely used in theoretical viral marketing. Sex, kids, kittens, humor – they are nothing more than just a broad topic. They won’t get you closer to the really good idea, especially if you follow the tips you may find in plenty of articles on the Internet. They advise to make videos as gross as possible claiming that people like watching trash, and that is why the video like this will earn incredible number of views. However, it is not always true, it may turn into large scale subvertisement for your own money.

In the world of digital the feedback is immediate and inevitable, so video with poor idea and low-quality implementation will bury the brand for ever. In contrary, quality, inspiring video commercial easily wins people’s hearts and builds the positive image around brand.

Don’t waste your efforts on methodology. Searching for a certain algorithm to generate something genius is vain. You either think over idea or you think over how to generate the idea.

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Remember about variety of formats. There are different formats of virality – you can use them as a starting point in your brainstorming session. You won’t find the best or the worst among them – they all work and don’t work at the same time. Below are some of them.

Animation “Dumb Ways to Die”

Interactive video “What Is There in the Darkroom?”

Movie “TrueMove: Giving”

Take action! You should look for explanation “why I can’t”, or telling to yourself “oh, customers don’t have money for viral videos, our ideas are super, but they won’t accept them”. Just do it!

If suddenly you realize that you finally have got a worthy idea, ask yourself several questions:

  • Is this idea good enough for the video?
  • Will it excite and inspire people?
  • Haven’t we forgotten in the creative pursuit that the video should be promotional?

Of course, the answers to these questions will be subjective. But then any art evaluation is subjective. Since I personally write the script of future video, I can forecast even subjectively with 80% probability whether the video is going to be successful. Whether or not it will become an outstanding event is difficult to tell. But the video potential level (good – not good, event – not event) is seen almost every time. Especially useful to compare the video idea with globally known commercials made by famous brands.

The principles we have at our company, helps us a lot, because thinking over the idea we always question ourselves (and we are ready to fairly admit the negative) whether the video is going to become an event and whether it will engage and inspire people. Only if the answer is positive we pass the idea to the client and then to the production.

Part 2 Production

Only top-notch quality of production. The viral video implementation should be superb. And it is not about airplanes, brilliants or one-thousand-million-dollar budget. It is about thorough approach to every detail – quite often even more meticulous than during TV ads creation. So it is very important to have a team of experts if you are going to make a video commercial.

Here is a question: what to do if the budget is really tight? Don’t minimize spending on key personas working on video – stage director, cameraman, producer, music maker, and so on. Only these people will be able to provide high quality video even under unusual and challenging circumstances. Other spending could be cut: hire people instead of actors, film on telephone instead of camera, etc.

For example, when we filmed Beeline Tricky Dog video, we had limited budget for production, but we engaged in work best stage director and operator. However, we save money on location and technical equipment. Actually, this video creation became possible only after we found a very unusual approach to the production. Thanks to this it already didn’t matter whether we are going to film with iPhone, miniDV-camera or something else. The only thing which mattered was who will do that.

Tell the truth. Will you watch something which doesn’t touch, impress or excite you? Other people won’t watch it too. Plastic families, model characters and fake situations will unlikely engage the audience. On the Internet the user not only doesn’t forgive untruth, but also immediately tells everything he thinks about you and your work. So only truth and sincereness.

Movie Philips: Hair up

Apply unusual approach. While creating online video keep in mind that your aim is to excite, otherwise you will be left in the oblivion.  At the same time, as I mentioned earlier, the video budget is frequently limited which requires unusual methods.

Filming the Beeline World Music Mix video

The challenge was to film the video in 17 countries on budget. So we  decided to use all the possibilities social media give us today and film the video remotely. This way we managed to create a unique crowd-sourced international video.

  •  People search. We looked for people who are ready to take part in the experiment through social media, posted messages on forums and incorporated blogging opportunities.
  • Melody creation. To create the melody, we collected a huge bas of You Tube videos featuring the sounds made by two hundred of different city’s tourist attractions (musical columns, bells, organs which are musical instruments, etc). The music writer chose from them the most suitable and wrote the melody.
  • Locations. We used Google Street View to understand all the nuances of locations. With photos we had we managed to develop right set-up.
  • Brief creation. As a result of active work of our team we received a brief for each of 17 locations which included:
  • well elaborated set-up with certain location of camera, actor, and light;
  • task for the actor – how to play the role correctly and don’t look fake;
  • description of clothes, phone model, make up and camera requirements.
  • Filming and editing. The final step   – remote shooting, recording, sound synchronization and edit.


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