How to test if an idea has the makings of a viral video before you produce it
First off, I want to say that the tips shared below were initially aimed at creators who want to produce a whole video series, but I think many of the points apply equally to musicians who want to produce individual music videos.
About those video series, though…
One of the clear ways to establish a large audience on YouTube is to create not just a single hit video, but a whole series that can build upon the success of prior videos. For instance, my friend Mike’s band The Union Gospel recently started shooting a bunch of takeaway-style performances in the NYC subway, and they’re calling it The Subway Series. Every week, I’m psyched to click on the video to hear what cover song they picked to play.
What’s the problem with a one-off music video?
Well, nothing inherently, but you might be squandering the buzz if you only post individual videos every once in a while.
Think about it. If you post an awesome music video that gets shared like crazy when it’s first published, but then take 6 months to post a followup video, your YouTube activity will probably look like a giant, exciting spike on the graph which eventually settles back to a disappointing plateau somewhere around where it was before your big hit video.
In this situation, there’s nothing specific for viewers to look forward to. There’s nothing else for them to click on. There’s little to incentivize them to subscribe.
But if they knew you were creating a new video every week or month, that’s a whole different story. Like singer-songwriter Brett Newski’s “Crusty Adventures,” a funny video series about the gross underbelly of touring abroad. It’s tough not to click on each subsequent episode to see what kind of auto breakdown, disgusting smell, bad gig, or swindle comes his way.
But producing a series of videos is much much much much easier said than done. And since it’s hard work, you’ve really got to think your ideas through beforehand.
In a recent Creator Academy bootcamp, YouTube provided a list of 10 helpful criteria to measure the merits of your ideas before you start shooting anything. It’s a kind of checklist, and it’s meant to guide you as you brainstorm video series concepts, but — as I mentioned above — I think many of these criteria are worth applying to individual video ideas too.
Does your video pass the test in these 10 areas?
Ask yourself the following questions. According to the Creator Academy, you don’t need to answer “yes” to every single one in order to make a quality video. But the more times you hear yourself saying “yes,” the more confident you should feel that you’re onto something good. Read more »