What Makes a Video “Viral?”

Viral Video in CanadaYou’ve likely heard the term “viral” before. In contemporary discussion, this is often attributed to online videos rather than a contagious disease. There’s a clear connection between these two very different concepts: the popularity of viral videos spreads like wildfire, much like a viral infection. Everyone in the digital industry knows this, from companies like xPosure Solutions to individual digital marketers.

The most basic characteristic of a viral video is what makes it a perfect marketing tool. But, it’s not easy to make a video go viral — not without specific quality standards, at least. And there’s one standard that speaks bounds: a video’s shortness.

The “140-Character Generation”

Try searching for viral videos online, and you’ll likely notice one thing in common: they usually don’t last more than 3 minutes. Sometimes, they only last a few seconds, yet they still get shared millions of times through various social media sites. Now, try looking for longer-duration videos and how often they got shared. You’ll notice the clear disparity.

Why? A study published in The New York Times found that almost 20 percent of people left the video after a mere 10 seconds. About a minute in, almost half (44 percent) of the video’s viewers have left the video already. What this means is that people’s attention spans have gotten shorter.

But perhaps, even shorter than ever.

People Now Have Shorter Attention Spans Than.. Goldfish?

According to scientists, people now have shorter attention spans than goldfish. This is due to the age of rampant smartphone usage. The study involved 2,000 participants from Canada, 112 of which had their brain activity scanned. The results showed that the average human attention span decreased from 12 seconds 16 years ago to a mere 8 seconds. Goldfish have an attention span of 9.

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This means that now is the perfect time for viral videos to experience a boom, or even a rennaissance. Marketers must use this opportunity to craft short, but meaningful and instantly shareable videos that can help spread awareness quick.