This Brilliant Viral Video Actually Teaches Us Something About How to Go Viral

Viral videos. The first time I gave “viral videos” a serious, work-related thought, I was working for Howcast. It was 2009 or so and our entire (small) organization was tasked with creating a viral video. 

At the time I rolled my eyes  at the earnestness. The neediness. But beneath my not-quite-hipster scorn, there was real terror. How DO you create a viral video? What was the formula anyway? Was there really a formula? Or did it just… happen? 

Spoiler Alert: I don’t know the formula. Maybe there is one, but I don’t know it. If there is one, it’s certainly not what it was in 2009. 

But actually I do think there’s a clue in this Chatbooks video. The screen shot above was taken when the video had about 5 million views, less than a week after it was published. Maybe not the hugest number in our post- Chewbacca mom age, but it ain’t bad. 

And I was thinking about what made this video so watchable. What made me want to share it with everyone? And then I figured it out. 

It was me! 

Or rather, it was the fact that I fall into the bullseye center of Chatbooks ideal audience.

And that made me realize the counterintuitive key to this video’s success: it is targeted. It IS NOT for everyone. But it captures the attention of a very high percentage of a very specific audience. Because its creators know who that audience is and how to talk to them. 

They want to reach moms who want to create photo albums out of the thousands of pics on their phones, but haven’t done it yet.

That’s all. 

This video went viral because it: 

1. Identifies the pain points of its ideal audience, using that audience’s language

  • no time (“My children are growing like weeds, but I barely have enough time to keep them ALIVE let alone print pictures of them.”) 
  • not very much money (“When Sara does something adorable, I have to say, ‘That’s cute, but not $50 cute.'”) 

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  • tons of unorganized photos collected on the phone, not archived anywhere else
  • not a ton of technical/design expertise
  • no energy to get all of that stuff organized, printed, designed, shipped! What a headache.  
  • But it would be really nice to have photo albums. I want photo albums. I love my crazy life and I want to be able to look back on it! 

2. Explains how Chatbooks address all these pain points

  • Prints and ships automatically “without you having to lift a finger”
  • But you will be notified if you want to edit your order or send it back
  • Chatbooks are made with high quality materials for a low price “so you can send the savings on your little thumbsuckers.” 
  • “Live your life and let Chatbooks print it.” 
  • Go straight to the app from the video (for the many people in this audience who look at Facebook on their phone primarily or exclusively). 

What I really think is worth noting, in both the “identifying pain points” section of the video and the “here is Chatbooks can help” section, is that the script uses the language of the ideal audience member. It uses the words that this mom would use to talk about why “making photo books sucks”! 

One of my friends, who is a mom of two small boys, commented,

They have tiny spies in my mind.

So yes, the production values on this video are high, the script is well-written and funny, and they had money to buy the Facebook ad. All of those factors helped make this video go viral. 

But one thing you and I can learn from this video is: are we talking about the problems our products and services solve so clearly that our ideal audience would say, “They have tiny spies in my mind” ?


Get your checklist for more tips on what speaks to your ideal audience. 


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