Going viral: nine top tips to push your video through the noise

The Accenture Digital Media Awards, of which The Irish Times is a media partner, are being awarded Friday. Here, the nine nominees for Best Use of Video, reveal their secrets


There's no magic formula for making a video go viral but each of the nominees for ‘Best Use of Video’ at the Accenture Digital Media Awards will hope they've cracked it all the same. Timing, emotion, relevance, celebrity and a bit of luck can all influence the journey of a video clocking up millions of online hits.

We asked the ‘Best Use of Video’ nominees, how do you get a video to go viral?

Tip 1 – Emotion

Nominated for: GAA Be There All The Way
Agency: Maxus/Brando Client: GAA

Sarah Scollan, Account Manager, Maxus: Emotions are key to sharing content online. Be true to the values of your brand with video, and give people something that they are proud to share. We created short documentary style films called "docupills" for the GAA "Be There All The Way" campaign with the focus on the fans, encouraging people to support club and county throughout the year.

We wanted to engage the audience and here is where emotion is key. The GAA is part of Irish culture and history and we wanted to show the dedication from parishes across the country all year round; from washing the jerseys to travelling for training on cold, rainy mornings and the hard work that comes from people involved all parts of the organisation.

This story went beyond the matches; it was something people were proud to share. The reaction was incredible with 1,832,545 views across all videos, including social views, from January to September 2015.

Tip 2 – Be relevant to your brand

Nominated for: Lingerie Worth Showing Off
Agency: Mediaworks Client: Lidl

Aaron Chalke, Experiential Client Director, Mediaworks: For a video to stand out it has to be something special. However, it’s important to always be relevant for the brand and its audience with your content. This video was to promote Lidl’s lingerie range in advance of Valentine’s Day and it was easy to have a bit of fun because Lidl, compared to other retailers, have quite a light-hearted tone.

They are known as the place you can pick up your spuds as well as ski-gear or drill bits. The idea was based on the perception that Irish men aren’t known for being that romantic and can get embarrassed talking about lingerie. We partnered with her.ie to find real girlfriends who wanted to get their own back on their boyfriends by having our actress ask them for their opinion on her lingerie.

We increased Valentine’s sales and went viral with over 1.17 million views and had radio, TV and online coverage including Australia, Belgium, Netherlands and France. I would advise anyone making a video to avoid concentrating on the word ‘viral’, be true to your brand and if it has a tone, stick to that.

Tip 3 – Timing and the mood of the nation

Nominated for: Hailo – The Heterophobic Taxi
Agency: Gaslight Client: Hailo

Dave Davin from Gaslight: Timing is a huge part of something going viral. As part of their support for last year’s Marriage Referendum, Hailo, approached Guns or Knives to come up with something that would get people thinking ‘just how ridiculous discrimination is.’ They came up with some reverse engineering creating ‘The Heterophobic Taxi Driver’ and came to Gaslight so we could bring it to life.

We had huge success with this video but If we hadn’t released it at this time it might not have been so popular. This was a time when the national conversation was focussed on the referendum and this was a video opposite to the ‘norm.’ If you think about the word ‘viral’ it’s something that is infectious, and a viral video is something that resonates with universal feelings. This showed the ridiculousness of homophobia and discrimination of any kind.

Within half an hour of its release the video had gone viral. It went as far as Australia, and to date it has 483,916 views on Hailo’s Facebook page and 230,478 views on their YouTube page.

Tip 4 –Keep your audience in mind

Nominated for: Club Orange – #TheBestBits
Simply Zesty Client: Club Orange

Rob Treloar, Account Director, Simply Zesty: Keeping your audience in mind is something that seems obvious but can often be forgotten in creating content for brands and companies. We have worked with Club Orange for over three years so we have a good insight into the audience which is largely 18-24 and male.

#TheBestBits engaged the audience from the beginning as a user-led social campaign. We wanted to identify the Best Bits of Ireland by asking Club Orange’s social media audience and then use their recommendations to create video content. We were led by the audience from conception to conclusion, making it very unique. It was humorous, authentic and feel-good, not a polished, perfect ‘version’ of Ireland and spread very rapidly online.

The campaign reached an audience of over 5.3 million, while over 350,000 viewed the video content on Facebook and YouTube and Club Orange sales increased by almost 10 per cent compared to the same period the previous year.

Tip 5: Adopt Influencer marketing

Nominated for: Cian Twomey Partnership (Client- Yik Yak)
Agency: Outset Agency Client: Yik Yak

David Anderson, Director, Outset: Our top tip for going viral is adopting influencer marketing. We partnered with Cian Twomey, one of the biggest Facebook influencers in Ireland, to promote the Yik Yak, the social media application for their launch in the Irish and UK markets. The target audience was for the 18-24 year olds so Cian was a fantastic fit as this is his audience who he talks to every day.

They have a level of trust with him and listen to him.  This audience is very savvy and don’t like being ‘sold’ something we knew we had to have Cian incorporate the app in a way that was natural. There were no big production or costs creating these videos, just one person and his camera phone. Social media influencers will become more and more popular because this is where young people live.

The reaction was amazing. For the five videos in total we had a reach of 80 million, 21 million views, and 1.2 million interactions.

Tip 6: Invest in media

Nominated for: The Red Shoes
Agency: VOCAL Client: Kildare Village

Niall O’Driscoll, Creative Director, Vocal: You can invest a huge amount of time, effort, money and creativity into making a video, but this is a waste if nobody sees it. The Red Shoes was a daring fairytale video, something that had never been done before so we wanted to make sure people saw it.

This long format 3.5 minute film was something visually beautiful and we wanted people to fall in love with it and share it because they loved it. It is important to invest in media at the beginning to create that solid launch bed and engage bloggers, influencers and media to spread the story. We had a very special launch with a live performance of the ballet with invited guests and bloggers and it took off from there.

Investing in media is so important to promote your video, you have invested in creating it and it deserves a platform to get as much exposure as possible.  

Tip 7: Be creative with the mundane to put a human face on a brand   

Nominated for: Dublin Bus – Mad Dash Home
Agency: Carat & Rothco Client: Dublin Bus

Michael Browne, Digital Media Planner, Carat: We wanted to create a video to educate the public about the people and technology behind Central Control, the nerve centre of Dublin Bus operation. Instead of going down a safe, boring, information-only route we took a different approach. It was fronted by Baz and Nancy after their Emmy for their TV show ‘50 Ways To Kill Your Mammy’ which was great timing. We collaborated with Rothco and the idea was to have a race between a rally car and a Dublin bus and that the bus would win. It is a three and a half minute video so considerably long, but I think we kept people engaged with the structure of the story, Baz and Nancy, and the fact that we used actual Dublin Bus employees. We integrated many different digital elements and were the first in Ireland to run YouTube through double click technologies with the campaign. We achieved 29 per cent completion and 85 per cent recall on YouTube, extremely rare for a three minute video.  

Tip 8: Align your story with cultural or national events

Nominated for: Temple Street #LittleCaddies
Agency: ICAN Client: Temple Street

Andrew McNulty, Creative Director, ICAN: My tip for making a video go viral is to try and align your idea or story with what’s happening now. The #LittleCaddies campaign featured children in Temple Street Children’s Hospital giving their golfing heroes tips on how to be the best, follow their dreams and never give up during the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open 2015. Our aim was to make golfers aware of the hospital and encourage support of the hospital. We got a great reaction when it went live, Graeme McDowell, Shane Lowry, and Padraig Harrington re-tweeted it on Twitter and it had over 16,000 shares. It was also a featured on the NBC golf channel in the USA. The video was designed to let the kids express themselves and be themselves and their advice and attitude was inspirational.

Tip 9 – Speed and preparation

Nominated for: Paul O’Connell UL Honorary Doctorate Video
Company: University of Limerick

Sheena Doyle, Media Relations Manager, University of Limerick: Ours was really a news video, or a video press release, which captured rugby player Paul O’Connell receiving his Honorary Doctorate at the University of Limerick and the key to the success of it for us was speed and preparation. It meant lots of planning and preparation with an extremely tight deadline to get the video out to news desks. It was a genuinely lovely event that the whole UL community was invested in because of our admiration for Paul O’Connell and we wanted to do him, and the day, justice. The speed of getting the video out was crucial, we wouldn’t have had the same reaction if we released it a week later. You have to grab the opportunity and do as much as you can to prepare in the window of time you have.


The Accenture Digital Media Awards are being held on Friday, February 19th. Now in its twelfth year, the awards recognise creativity and innovation across multiple areas of an ever-changing Irish digital sector that includes digital content creation, advertising and marketing, mobile media, app development, social networking and web design. Be it the smaller start up or larger corporate companies, all aspects of digital media are recognised and celebrated at the awards.

Categories include: Agency of the Year, Best Design/Art Direction, Best Digital Strategy, Best Innovation, Blog/Blogger of the Year and Media Brand of the Year. See digitalmedia.ie for more

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