If you aren’t one of the millions of people already familiar with Walk Off The Earth’s massive viral success, here’s the deal:
The Canadian indie band from Burlington threw a cover of Gotye’s ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ on YouTube where all five members of the band play the song on one guitar.
The video blew up, and in true viral fashion received over 20 million views in the first ten days. Walk Off The Earth have since landed a spot on Ellen, had their single reach #1 on iTunes, and inked a deal with Columbia Records.
At the time of writing this post, the video had over 63 million hits.
Here are four tips we can take away from Walk Off The Earth’s massive success:
1) Build a Network
While it may seem like WOTE came out of nowhere, the truth is this band had already worked hard to establish a strong social media foundation. They’d been making similar videos for more than two years and had uploaded almost 60 videos. Before ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’ their YouTube channel already had over 30,000 subscribers.
By posting creative covers WOTE was able to link with some of YouTube’s most popular musicians. The band also brilliantly linked themselves to other viral videos. Remember ‘Auto-Tune the News’ (the viral series that gave us Bed Intruder)? Check out the appearance at the end of Backin’ Up. This video has almost 7 million hits, and WOTE was able to connect with a channel that had over 1.2 million subscribers.
Building a broad social network is one of the best ways to increase the odds of your video catching on. By generating a following and connecting with other channels, WOTE had already done the legwork to set themselves up for a viral video of their own.
2) Make Quality Content
The Stickiness Factor. While this should go without saying, it’s often overlooked. Audiences gravitate towards videos that are creative, unsettling, humorous, or evoke some sort of conversation. People want to see something unique.
WOTE’s cover offered something audiences hadn’t seen before, and likely aren’t able to recreate themselves.
And while quality production isn’t necessary for a video to go viral, it can certainly go a long way to helping your video spread. People are attracted to content that looks and sounds great. In WOTE’s cover the audio is extremely clean, and four pitch-perfect singers suggest the song likely went through some post-production.
In an interview with USA Today singer Sarah Blackwood admitted to the video taking 14 hours and 26 takes to get it right. In the end the work paid off. The quality not only highlights their talent, it offers a unique and memorable experience that’s easily shareable.
3) Engage Your Audience
They’re the ones sharing your video. Make them feel like they’re part of the process. Rather than sitting back and watching the views roll in, Walk Off the Earth was active in communicating with their viewers. They responded to comments, took cover requests, provided studio updates and even posted a video response to ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’ (which alone has received over 2 million views!) thanking their fans
Engaging the audience can be one of the most effective ways to strengthen fan loyalty. Having them feel like they’re part of a conversation will keep them coming back.
4) Shamelessly Self Promote
Check out this screen shot from ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’:
Throughout the duration of the video, viewers have been given links to:
– Join the Facebook page
– Purchase the song on iTunes
– Watch other WOTE videos
– Subscribe to the WOTE YouTube channel
– Watch the original Gotye version
– Subscribe to Sarah Blackwood’s channel
Walk Off The Earth often end their videos with a dialogue or short blurb encouraging you to purchase their songs and check out their other videos. While you need to be cautious not to over-sell yourself (your video isn’t a sales pitch), use the opportunity to drive traffic to your networks and keep your audience connected.
While viral success can seem spontaneous, it’s often the result of a well-planned strategy. Thanks to Walk Off The Earth for demonstrating just how far an understanding these strategies can take you.