6 Steps for Going Viral by Wendy Crawford

 

So, what is it about some videos that turn them into viral sensations? What prompts those tens of thousands of clicks, likes and shares on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc? Odds are there is a baby, a dog or a cat in the leading role. Most videos that go viral – get the most hits – have a combination of one, two or all three of these adorable characters. “Make them laugh or make them cry”, i.e., tug on their heartstrings. Kodak and Hallmark figured out what sells umpteen years ago. And the formula is just as true when it comes to having a pet video go viral. Follow these steps and your pet may end up with more friends than you:

Step 1 – Be Mindful of Safety
Safety always comes first, especially when you are capturing your pup interacting with others. As experienced pet owners you know the signs to look for, but when we’re behind the camera we can easily get distracted. For instance, if a video has an adorable toddler tugging at the family dog’s ears and the pup starts out fine but then begins to tense and give ‘back off’ signs … well, I’m betting you would join me in mentally screaming – “CUT”. Our pets warning signs are different from humans; we need to know what to listen and watch for. This is especially true if we are camera-person and director. Finding the fine balance between safe and not can be tough. You need to know what to anticipate before it happens and the first step is being aware that something could happen.

Step 2 – Get to Know Your Camera
Now that you know your video stars are safe, you can concentrate on getting a top-notch video. Capturing such a video of even a semi-active dog requires some skill and a lot of luck. No amount of digital splicing and editing can make a shaky video clear or correct grossly out-of-screen photography errors. The solution is easy: get to know the camera on your phone. Intimately. To the point where you can adjust settings, including sound, without having to stop and look. It helps to remember the best viral videos are never staged; they are candid, spur of the moment and spontaneous expressions of pure joy. We can’t plan for them – so keep your camera handy! 

Step 3 –Practice!
Practice. And then practice some more. As your skills improve, you’ll find your intuition for the perfect shot becomes second nature. You become less self-conscious and/or likely to photo-bomb. The plus to all this practice: you’ll have a digital chronicle of your pet’s idiosyncrasies, joys, loveable silliness, and personality. You’ll not
want to share most of what you shoot – but Cloud storage is a pittance. And the memories are
forever.

Step 4 – Be Creative and Have Fun
One way to add variety and fun to your videos is by capturing your pet’s antics with a Doggie Cam. Or you can get a small camera designed to be attached to your pet’s collar … you’ll see the world as he does. The Doggie Cam is a monitoring system to see what your pets are up to when you’re away. Are they abiding by your training rules such as “stay off the furniture unless I invite you up?” The doggie cam will tell you. In fact, you will be treated to some hilarious shenanigans, along with realising how many hours dogs can sleep.

Step 5 – Edit Your Footage to Convey a Story
Think about the story you want to share. The “Why” or purpose of what you want to convey. This is when you might discover you have not one but a few stories to share with Internet fans. Video clips can be edited to do everything from sharing your pet’s exuberance at discovering a toys to sharing a training ‘light bulb moments’ to helping a foster pup express his personality to potential adopters. Sharing your pet’s love of life with the world brings smiles to every viewer. And smiles and messages are what make videos go viral.

Step 6 – Review Successful Viral Videos
Some of my favorite videos are from the Dodo and from the rescue group I work with, Saving  Carolina Dogs Rescue and Adoption Network or SCD. The Dodo’s videos are either funny or share a story that began in dire circumstances and ended up happy-ever-after. The videos posted on the rescue group’s Facebook page begin with the initial photo or video of the terrified dog.

Once under the group’s umbrella, the pup is vetted, neutered and placed in a foster home.  The volunteer foster family posts videos, photos and written commentary highlighting the pup’s progress as he/she becomes acclimated to newly-discovered human kindness and caring. It is these videos that are so instrumental in generating true interest in potential adoptees. People get a solid sense of the dog’s personality. “Will he/she blend in with our kids, other pets and lifestyle?” Then the arduous screening process for finding the optimum human and dog personality match for the ideal forever home begins. Then comes my favorite part – the videos that elate even the most hard-hearted. It is adoption day! These are the “WOO HOO, I’m finally HOME” videos that inevitably choke us all up.  

My favorite rescue video is about Remy. He was found at the San Antonio Animal Control. Less than a year old, he was a street dog who had been attacked by other dogs and was listed as a “medical case” (which usually translates into euthanasia due to costs) when the group pulled him. The SCD foster took him to the vet where his chest and front legs were shaved to tend the puncture wounds. The rescue covered all his medical costs and nursed him back to health. Remy started to learn basic commands and more importantly, to trust people and accept love. He discovered regular mealtimes, a warm bed and what toys were for. Once healthy, Remy found his “real family” in Washington. His forever home had worlds of patience and tons of love for this scared boy and he blossomed.

Remy today: Go to tpg.pet/remy to see the video Remy’s Dad uploaded to youtube for TPG readers.
There are videos from the Dodo:
tpg.pet/vet – The video is about a veteran with PTSD and adopted cat and dog – who became his service dog. 76,432 views and increasing
tpg.pet/mom – The video is about an amazing service dog with his human mom. 2,353,894 views and increasing
tpg.pet/rescue – A rescue finds a home, then her pup seven years later … and a family infant who gave the dog a reason to live. Will you become one of ever increasing 12 million (!!!) viewers?
My final thoughts – these viral videos tell real stories of pets and their people. That is what makes them so extraordinary.

Quick Check List for Making Pet Videos

  • Know your camera
  • Watch for your pet’s warning signs of discomfort
  • Never stage a video. Your pet isn’t a stunt animal trained for movies
  • Make your photo shoots fun for your pets
  • Learn to edit your videos. PC magazine recommends the following
    • Adobe Premier Pro
    • Corel Video Studio Ultimate X 10
    • CyberLink Power Director
    • Apple Final Cut Pro X
    • Apple iMax (for Mac OS X)
  • Note there is also free editing software available. Google will give you sources to research
  • Be patient, practice, and have FUN!
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