Rule One: Be True

Our first rule for creating contagious content is Be True.

JK Wedding Entrance Dance

People crave true, unfiltered experiences.  Movies and television give us re-packaged versions of life, but the Internet can give us raw reality like no other medium.

Twelve-year-old Greyson Chance singing Lady Gaga at his school recital (45+ million views), the entire wedding party dancing down the aisle in JK Wedding Entrance Dance (75+ million views) – those are real.  They’re true.  And that truth is contagious.

When we think, “This really happened; you have GOT to see this!” – that’s when we click the share button.

Take a look at Disneyland Musical Marriage Proposal.  It’s fake.  It’s got lots of camera angles, perfect lighting, perfect sound, and the perfect, glossy couple.  With lots of Disney promotional support, it got a few million views.  But compare it to JK Wedding Entrance Dance.  That was shot with one wobbly camera and no edits.  And it was one of the most popular videos of the year, because everything about it is true.

Videos that are true are made by real people for real people.   Because of that, they create a direct, personal connection between the creator and the audience.  If we see actors, cameramen, producers, or editors using the tricks of their trades, we know we’re getting something that’s been repackaged and that sabotages the contagiousness of your video.

So keep it simple.  Keep it true.

Next Rule: Rule Two: Don’t Waste My Time →

You’ll find more details on the four rules and lots of ways to apply them in our book, The Viral Video Manifesto.

Illustration by Chris Peterson.