Going Viral: What I Learned from Getting a Million Views

One random Sunday, I woke up to one of my posts going viral on TikTok. It had received 160k views overnight.

While this was exciting, and unexpected, as a marketing / content creator, I wanted to see what, if anything, I could learn from it. I figured if I could deconstruct and understand why it went viral, I could use it as a template to do it again. Was there a repeatable format… or was it just a one-off fluke?

If it were a fluke, then who cares about a million views? It was a lottery and I happened to win it one day. But, if I could do it over and over again, then that’s worth something, so I was eager to explore this further.

The Viral Video Challenge

That Sunday morning, I made a LinkedIn post talking about what had happened. In that same post, I issued a challenge to myself, putting it out in the open for my community to follow along. The challenge was this: what would happen if I made a similar video in a similar style? Could I replicate the success?

Win, lose, or draw, I would post the results.

This is the original thumbnail I made for my LinkedIn post

The Video Virality Breakdown

Before we get into the results, I wanted to breakdown some of the reasons why I think my Chrome Hearts video went viral (see video 1). I think it was a perfect storm of a few elements.

As is often the case, I think a lot had to do with my hook

The hook refers to the opening line or 3 seconds of the video. You want to have something that is visually and auditorily interesting to stop the user from scrolling. You may have heard about the A.I.D.A. model, which stands for Attention, Interesting, Desire, Action. I first became aware of this from the movie ‘Glengarry Glen Ross‘.

There are lots of good examples of hooks, which I won’t go into, but in this particular video, I used Kendall Jenner (a very famous model) for 1.5 seconds, then immediately switched the visuals to display the Chrome Hearts product. My opening sentence was “This is Chrome Hearts, perhaps one of the most mysterious brands in the world.”

I said the name of the company in the opening sentence and told people it was among the most mysterious brands in the world. People with some familiarity of the brand may recognize the name or the product, or both (which is why I showed both in the hook) and wonder about it. If something really is mysterious, then naturally people’s curiosity will be piqued.

The other thing to note about saying something is mysterious is that the viewer will expect that I will tell them more or unravel the mystery to satisfy their curiosity. In storytelling, this is a ‘promise of a payoff’.

Of course, I cannot use the “mysterious” line for every brand since not every brand is mysterious. This was part of the perfect storm. Chrome Hearts, at least in my opinion, is quite mysterious.

The second part of the perfect storm is that Chrome Hearts, for whatever reason, is hated. So by picking this brand, there is a built in controversy. I had inadvertently picked a brand that connected with people on an emotional level. In social media marketing, this may be referred to as rage baiting. If someone doesn’t have any opinion of a brand one way or the other, or if they’ve never heard of it, then they won’t care what I have to say about it.

So I had picked the right brand, with the right amount of hate (based on the comments, 99% of them were negative), along with the right hook.


Video 1

Video 2

The Results of the Viral Video Challenge

I used some of what I had learned and made a new video about And 1, a basketball footwear and streetwear brand. I picked this brand for three reasons:

  • I figured it too would have a lot of mystique behind it
  • I figured it would have a lot of built-in nostalgia that would create high appeal
  • I had already written about this brand, saving me some time on learning about the brand and creating a script

I made my And 1 video using a similar editing style and posted it that afternoon. Exactly one week after that fateful Sunday where I had issued the public challenge on LinkedIn, my Chrome Hearts video has amassed over 1,000,000 views and counting.

My And 1 video in the same format DID get significantly more traffic than my usual videos. While a typical video of mine would get between 200 – 500 views, my And 1 video has done over 11,000 views (and counting).

While not a homerun, it is still a significant improvement. I also uploaded the And 1 vide to YouTube and it also did over 10,000 views on that platform, even more than my Chrome Hearts video (currently sitting at around 1k views on YouTube).

The Post Viral Video Challenge Breakdown

Now, you may be curious to know what having a viral video did for my channel / marketing business. So let’s break everything down. In the past week, let’s break everything down.

  • Followers – gained 200+ new followers
  • Website traffic – no noticeable gain from TikTok
  • Leads – no new leads

My viral video did not have anything to do with my business. I’m not in the Chrome Hearts reselling business, nor am I in the fashion business. So in a sense, I could have posted a video of a trainwreck and received a million+ views, it would have done about the same for my business as my Chrome Hearts video.

Sooo… was there a point to getting over a million views?

Depends on who you ask.

If you ask me, I’d say yes. While it was completely vanity metrics, I believe a rising tide lifts all boats.

While I didn’t receive a spike in website traffic or leads, it did allow more people to know who I am, which could lead to something in the future, or not. At the very least, it could help to attract more views on some of my other videos.

Social media is not about revenue. It’s about awareness. Marketing is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.

Overtime, if I put out good content, consistently, over time… then it could turn into something positive for me or my business.

If nothing else, I gained new knowledge that I can add to my toolbelt and could potentially help someone else.

So overall, it was a good experience and only time will tell if there are any other benefits that stem from it.

Until then, on to the next.

I have since made two other videos similar to the Chrome Hearts video: Supreme and Rhude, but neither has taken off. I will try again with some different brands. There are a lot of variables in social media and no guarantees. It’s really difficult to predict what will pop off and what won’t sometimes it’s not about the content, but has everything to do with timing.

We live, we post, and we learn.

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