3 steps to creating a viral church video
By Mark MacDonald

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Viral. It used to describe how a high school student could create a mono epidemic. One popular kid catches the virus and "somehow" some girls start yawning. Then other guys mysteriously feel lethargic. Soon, an entire school is talking about the outbreak. All from one kid.

INDUSTRY PULSE

Has your church tried to create a viral video?
  • 1. Yes
  • 2. No

Now, in a similar manner, someone thinks up — or happens to record — an interesting video. Soon, like a miracle, the video is playing all over the world with millions watching it. No wonder why it's called "viral."

This modern-day ability is caused by three converging factors:
  1. Video editing has become mainstream. In fact, Vine (Twitter's six-second video app) does it all by pushing and releasing a button.
  2. There are video recorders in everyone's pockets. No excuse of "I wish I had my camcorder" when "that" happened.
  3. Social media allows the ability to share anything to the interconnected world. Literally.
In the last few weeks, you've probably enjoyed Kid President wishing mothers a happy greeting. Maybe the crazy couple who "supposedly" sang for free gas, too. Or I'm sure there's a cat video you've ooohed over.

So, why do few Christian videos go viral? It's sad. Can a church video even take the world by storm? Churches produce thousands of videos every week for services. Some are even clever. But does it take more than that?

Yes. Three things must occur to produce the next best video:

  1. Subject Matter. Most viral videos make fun of (or mock) something. Or have to be so incredible it leaves people scratching their heads wondering how the video was made. Or have a mind-melting cute cat in it. This limits Christian themes; but it's possible.

  2. Time. People just aren't watching long videos anymore. In fact, most watch for less than 60 seconds. Can a pastor do something that short? Ouch. Seriously, to hold attention, you must shock with the unpredictable. Then shock again. Like waves lapping at the eyelids. Just when someone wants to stop the video, you must hit big; or create anticipation of what will come next.

  3. Tipping Point. Like the casanova who starts spreading mononucleosis; it all starts with the best connector. A great video must be seen by the right people who are motivated to pass it on like the proverbial hot potato. GodTube starts a lot of Christian "viral-lite" videos, but it has to break outside of its Jericho walls to launch big. Most huge videos take off quickly and gain tens of thousands hits within a few hours.
It's hard to "plan" a viral video; but we as the church need to use this medium to interrupt the world as a means to virally spread the love, grace and mercy of Christ. Think unexpected. Conjure a theme that's shocking. Like that the God of the universe reached down and saved even me.

Mark MacDonald is a brand strategist and creative director for PinPointCreative.com. He empowers churches to become known for something relevant through their services, ministries, websites and social media.