Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Student viral videos – tips and ideas to get started

Student viral video: how-to guide
In our previous blogs we’ve discussed the rise in cloud computing and the upward trend in the integration of smart devices in the classroom. Schools throughout the UK are becoming hubs for innovation, which is helping to raise learner engagement and promote higher levels of learning. But where will this take us next?

Well, for some teaching professionals, nurturing a culture of creative learning is leading them to expand lesson ideas and draw on contemporary issues that are likely to engage learners even further.

Viral videos have become the holy grail for major brands and advertisers in recent years as a way of gaining the attention of otherwise difficult-to-reach consumer groups. For many, the aim is to create something unique that captivates a target audience and evokes a common interest. The success of viral videos can be largely attributed to the rise in social networking and the free access to sites like YouTube, where users post videos online and can share content with individuals and communities across the world.

So what place do viral videos have in education?

Creativity is the process of using our imagination to produce something new or to develop an original idea. It is more than just brain/mind-storming or image streaming. Creativity in learning goes much deeper, to getting an individual to think creatively and being able to creatively solve a task or problem. It’s not surprising then that, for some schools, viral videos have weaved their way into certain lesson plans.

For a community school in Kent, viral videos have been used as an instructive aid to demonstrate sociological behaviour and as a mechanism to stimulate debate and discussion.

Yet while viral videos can encourage group collaboration and provide a visual dimension to a lesson, they can also be used to develop creative learning environments and applications. Teachers have begun to assign students the challenge of creating their own viral videos.

In this article we’ll look at what makes a successful student viral video, how to develop a unique idea and what essential ingredients you’ll need to include in order to give your video the greatest chance for success.

What makes a successful viral?

While there are success stories such as that of Keenan Cahill, the 15-year-old boy who covered Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream, and became an overnight internet sensation, viral videos have become less about luck and more about planning.

Many large corporations have identified the value of commissioning viral campaigns, which has meant social marketers have had to develop an intuitive understanding of what makes a video go viral.

The truth is, however, there are still millions of pounds being wasted on ill-timed, poorly distributed and badly produced videos that miss their mark with the intended target audience. YouTube has amassed millions of videos and so it’s no longer enough to produce a video, publish it on the site and expect to count thousands of views.

Developing your own unique viral

A video that goes viral can cost millions or it could be as simple as a parent filming his child wake up in a car seat to their favourite song.

That’s what makes them appealing to us: it can be a real-life clip that captures something viewers feel they have to share with their friends and family or an ingenious idea that a company commissions to demonstrate their brand values or reposition themselves within a particular market.

There are various reasons why a viral gains popularity, and as a result there is no single formula or set criteria when developing your idea. Instead, there are principles that we can draw from past success stories, providing us with an underlying set of ingredients that are common throughout.

Tips for producing a student viral video:

1.    Wow − that’s funny!

Take a moment to look through your Facebook newsfeed or Twitter profile; chances are most of the videos you and your friends have shared have a common trait − they’re funny.

A viral needs to offer the viewer a compelling reason to watch and share it. We all love to laugh and this has led to the vast majority of videos being humorous for the viewer.

For a student project there may be a specific topic area that is in focus or a message that must be revealed. Like commercial virals it’s important that the video captivates its audience and a powerful way of doing this is by making them laugh. The viewer is then in a position to appreciate who (the brand) or what the underlying message of the video is.

Example: Bodyform’s The Truth YouTube video is a great example as it combines humour, shock and intrigue as Bodyform's CEO responds to what we think is a bad review from a 'male customer'.

2.    Keep it short and sweet

Let’s be honest, virals are often shared while at work, at class or during the day when you have other things to do. Viewers have limited time and so are precious about what they look at and watch. Again, if you look through your Facebook newsfeed or at past videos you’ve posted or liked, they’re probably all quite short, generally no longer than a few minutes.

Content on the web is getting shorter and more concise. As consumers, there are thousands of competing messages passing by us each day and so in order to create a successful video an audience must be engaged, captivated and rewarded in short succession, leaving them no time to get distracted.

3.    You have to see this!

This is the reaction all social marketers strive for, confirmation that a video has hit its mark with its intended viewer and they’re forced to share it with others. But this reaction doesn’t necessarily have to be down to something you found funny, it could be that the idea is simply unique, a piece of footage that is unreal, shocking or so ‘awesome’ that it deserves to be seen by others.

Example: T-Mobile’s flash mobs were some of the first large-scale, scheduled dance routines to take place in public places throughout the UK and helped the brand generate millions of views as a result.

A word of warning must be heeded: once you’ve formed your idea, walk people from your target audience through it. One of the most common failings for advertisers is that because it’s their idea it’s immediately awesome. Best to run it past a small group to make sure it actually is (this also helps to refine and in many cases improve on some of the initial ideas).

4.    Work within your means

If you’re tasked with producing the video within school it’s important to remain realistic. Producing a student video is restricted by time, money and access to sets, actors and costumes. Your teacher is aware of this and will not expect you to set up an elaborate stunt, or recruit a shopping centre full of people.

What hope do I have of creating a video that goes viral?

To cut it short… as much chance as a professional marketer!

Why? Marketing professionals are allocated a budget, an ad spend and although this can support more elaborate ideas it can also distract them from the essential elements outlined in this article. Creativity can come from anywhere; you don’t need to be in an official role or position to have an idea.

Provided you take into account these principles, tailor it to the interests, motives and needs of your audience and encourage your social networks to share the video once it’s launched, you’ll have a strong chance of developing a successful viral video.

Start here

If you’re a student or teacher why not start here by posting a link to your viral video and asking our community to offer their views and experiences?

About us

LearnersCloud has extensive experience in producing HD-rich tutor-led videos that offer students access to engaging and easy-to-follow material, ideal for GCSE revision and e-learning.

We’ve formed a team of specialist subject teachers, quality assurance advisors and EdTech developers to offer students a unique opportunity to improve their understanding of the core subjects and achieve better exam results. Covering GCSE Maths, English, Chemistry, Physics and Biology, students can learn, revise and test themselves on their PC, tablet and smartphone device anywhere and at any time.