Viral Tips for Marketers – Tip #1: Think Sideshow, Not Story

One of the biggest mistakes that skilled, well-intentioned marketers make when creating viral videos is to employ the traditional storytelling methods of television and film.  But the Internet isn’t about story, it’s about sideshow.

Viral video is the 21st century sideshow.

Think about it. The most popular videos on YouTube range from the bizarre to the beautiful, and are gritty, weird, wonderful, bold, daring and often unabashedly strange. Whether highly crafted, or spontaneously captured, viral videos give their audience something to gawk at and that same audience will click away the second you lose their interest or waste their time.

Although there are some notable narrative viral videos (they usually involve celebrities), storytelling is a generally a hindrance rather than a help. It wastes valuable time, and distances the viewer from the immediacy and the emotion, making them a whole lot less likely to share your video.

So when creating your content, give us your unforgettable hook and then deliver on it right away. Forget about story. Focus on sideshow.