Listen up - how to make a viral YouTube video

By: Bjorn Schuller

Date: 5 May 2017

Listen up - how to make a viral YouTube videoYouTube offers businesses the ability to connect with their audience and build an engaged base of customers and prospects. The video sharing website has never been more popular.

Today, more than three billion hours of videos are watched per month, with an additional 300 hours of videos being added each minute. Yet, out of all the videos uploaded to YouTube, only a very small percentage generate more than a few hundred views, and only a tiny number of those end up going viral.

Why it pays to listen

The reason why some YouTube videos get significantly more views than others is often down to the nuances of how they are presented. And the audio plays a significant part in this success. By listening to what is being said and how it is being said, including the tone and context, channel owners can predict which videos will be ignored and which will become top of the viral charts.

Top-notch production values don't guarantee an audience. Having a video that is based on strong positive or negative emotions means that it will garner the most social interaction through comments and sharing. Our research has found that videos containing strong emotions - such as excitement, enthusiasm, fear or disgust - have greater potential to reach a large audience than videos that contain less engaging emotions such as boredom.

The power of enthusiasm

Put simply, enthusiasm is contagious. This is typified by the hugely popular unboxing videos. The concept is simple - you are watching someone unpack a product - but the person on screen is generally very excited about the content.

It is not just a case of what is said, but how it is said. In future, savvy businesses could run an automatic emotion classifier on their videos prior to uploading them. This is the natural successor to the speech recognition technology we have seen vastly improve on our mobile devices during the past decade; the technique of applying automatic emotion recognition is becoming increasingly popular in many businesses applications such as customer satisfaction analysis, call centres optimisation, targeted advertising and automated media classification.

By applying automatic emotion classification, YouTubers will be able to ascertain how positively the video is likely to be perceived by the audience and how much potential it has to go viral. This way, they can maintain the brand and ensure that they are spending energy and marketing budget in the right areas.

Emotional sweet spots

For a video to become successful in 2017, it should offer both the right content and hit the correct emotional sweet spots. Further, for the maximum chance of your video going viral, make sure the emotional classifiers that are identified are clearly highlighted in the text that accompanies that video, so that it comes up in YouTube's search feature or via a Google search.

Professor Bjorn Schuller is CEO and co-founder of audEERING.