Rule Two: Don’t Waste My Time

Too many online videos fail to get to the point fast enough.

Dramatic Chipmunk

In TV and movies, you can take your time to get things started. In the online world, that’s certain death. People can turn away in a moment. And they will. Every second of your video has to grab and hold our attention.

So show us what you’ve got and don’t waste our time for even a moment.  If we’re here to see your sword swallower, show us your sword swallower.  Right away.

Maybe the best example of this is Dramatic Chipmunk, in which a prairie dog (not a chipmunk), turns suddenly to the camera with striking theatrical flair.  It delivers its sideshow moment right away, and then it’s done.

It’s 5 seconds long and it has 35+ million views.

Note that this does not mean your video has to be super short.  Conventional wisdom is that to go viral a video needs to be under three minutes, but Battle at Kruger is over eight minutes long and has 65+ million views.  And the scary and brilliant Star Wars: The Phantom Menace Review, with well over one million viral views, clocks in at an epic seventy minutes.

So whether your video will be five seconds long, five minutes long, or even longer, be ruthless in making sure there isn’t one second more footage than is absolutely necessary.

Show us what you’ve got and then wrap it up.  Anything else wastes our time.

NEXT RULE: Rule Three: Be Unforgettable →

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.