Beyond Viral: YouTube Viral Video Genius Kevin Nalts Nalty Shares His Secrets

Beyond Viral: YouTube Viral Video Genius Kevin Nalts Nalty Shares His Secrets

Kevin Nalty has over 169 million video views on his YouTube Nalts Channel, and over 220,000 suscribers.  His personal video successes have made him one of the most trusted experts in viral marketing consulting, and he has worked with such major brands as Johnson & Johnson, Starbucks, MTV, and Microsoft.

And now he's sharing all his secrets with you in a brand new book, entitled Beyond Viral: How to Attract Customers, Promote Your Brand, and Make Money With Online Video.  With a forward from industry favorite, David Meerman Scott, the book is full of surprisingly-frank insight and advice on marketing through video.

Mark had a chance to catch up with Nalts at Blogworld in Las Vegas last month, and the two of them talked about the core strategies outlined in the book.  Here's a video with some of the interview highlights:

The guys cover a wide range of topics in the interview, ranging from video seeding to content strategy.  For those of you that don't have the time, I'll highlight some of the most interesting nuggets from the video:

Viral Video Roulette

Brands often consider online video to be "viral roulette," a high-stakes game where victory is completely out of your control.  But viral video marketing doesn't have to be such a crap shoot, says Nalts.  There are a ton of ways to get creative and engage your audience with video in a way that minimizes the risk of colossal failure.

Beyond Viral - A Better Strategy

There are some constants in online video—topics that have a higher percentage chance of going viral.  Videos with dancing, singing, surprises, pets, or babies are fine examples.  But as much as you want to be aware of the trends—and even piggyback on them from time to time—it's crucial that you add something new to the formula if you want to stand out.  As Nalts says,

"You can't hope to borrow off another viral idea and hope to go viral with that, you've kind of already missed that.”

The Element Of Surprise

One of the recurring themes of the interview was the element of surprise.  Video creators are going to find success more often when their videos have some kind of unexpected twist or surprise—preferably near the end of the clip.  That way, you can "turn the tables a bit on the viewer," which makes them more likely to share the video with friends.

Advertisers In Online Video

Online video was, intitially at least, created by the masses for the masses.  Brands were wary of the "wild, wild, West" landscape.  However, the tide is turning, and more and more brands are turning to viral video as a place for advertising.  One of the best ways brands are engaging online video is with the use of established web stars, many of whom have huge fan-bases that can help get your video off the ground.

The Tone For Branded Video

Brands have a fine line to walk.  On the one hand, they want to break out of their comfort zones a bit and embrace what online video is all about.  On the other hand, they have their already-established brand and voice.  And the best advertisers, according to Nalts, are the ones that strike the right balance between the two.  You have to be loyal to your existing branding that customers know and love, but you also have to stretch a bit.  Think of the established branding as an anchor, but let the boat float around a bit and explore the open waters of viral video.

Video Production & Experimentation

There have been too many viral flops from big brands to count.  After all, there is and will always be an unpredictable element to online success.  But brands that keep the production costs down are the ones most likely to find success.  Don't throw your entire annual budget into one special-effects-laden opus.  Instead, advises Nalts, keep your production costs down, and focus instead of putting out a lot of content.   Throw "a lot of spaghetti on the wall and seeing what sticks.”

Hosted Vs. Posted?

In his new book, Kevin has an entire chapter devoted to video search optimization.  Mark Robertson assisted Kevin with the chapter and suffice to say - there is some great information with regard to strategies for optimizing hosted vs. posted video.  Nalts thinks both hosted and posted video are great, with a slight advantage going to posted video.  Sure, we all want our videos on our corporate sites, and we want customers to come there to see them.  The problem with this strategy is a little thing I like to call "reality.”  Because consumers aren't going to seek out content on individual corporate sites… they seek it out on portals like YouTube.

Also, and perhaps more importantly, posting your videos on YouTube is simply the easiest way to ensure they get found in search engines.  YouTube's transcriptions, along with other tools, make it a snap to be found by Google.  And being found by Google is more important to getting viewers than the prestige of hosting your own videos.  As Nalts says near the end of the interview, "An important part of an SEO strategy is get your content on YouTube.”  You can optimize your video content that you put on your corporate site too, of course, and you should… but YouTube is simply easier.  Those who want to have their videos found in Google will want to make YouTube a big part of their online video strategy.

Video Seeding

It's important for video creators to understand that YouTube is not a set-it-and-forget-it kind of service. You don't just drop the video on YouTube and go.  You have to promote it, seeding it with initial viewers.  That means letting journalists and bloggers know about it.  That means optimizing it.  But more than that… it means participation:

"The big thing that took me from getting a few hundred views to, you know, being one of the YouTube top whatevers… is active participation in the community.  And you can't fake that and you can't rush that.  To me seeding is reacting to other YouTube content.  I think we saw that well done with the Old Spice campaign…  Think about distribution even before you shoot the video.”

The more time you spend in the YouTube community, the more trusted you become.  The more trusted you become, the more people will pay attention to what you have to say in the discussion, and eventually to the videos you create and share.  Smart brands are already doing this.  Don't just ad-bomb.  Don't just upload and forget it.  Sponsor web stars, support events, participate in the community, and your chances for success increase exponentially.


Nalts is in a very unique position in the online video industry.  He is both a trusted video marketing expert, speaker, and consultant… but he's also one of the most successful entertainers (video creators) on YouTube.  He's got experience—and success—at both ends of the spectrum.  Which gives him a rare perspective and unbeatable combination of skills.  Short and sweet—I try to listen to what the man says, because he's hit home runs as a producer and as a marketer.  Thankfully, between the new book and his blog, Will Video For Food, there's no shortage of great material for me to catch up on.  Buy Beyond Viral - It is well worth it...

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About the Author -
Jeremy Scott is the founder of The Viral Orchard, an Internet marketing firm offering content writing and development services, viral marketing consulting, and SEO services. Jeremy writes constantly, loves online video, and enjoys helping small businesses succeed in any way he can. View All Posts By -

What do you think? ▼
  • Martin Salter

    When You Tube, Facebook or any future giant web portal get too hung up on selling rather than sharing - people will simply move on. However smart, subtle, creative brands become in putting their messages in front of people I think that at some point people just say - enough! A zillion cat videos, fart videos, people slipping over videos - if that's what people want to watch then there really is no hope for humanity! If You Tube made more of the amazing content posted, clamped down on the unbelievable amount of copyright theft, and perhaps even started charging a small fee for really great content then maybe You Tube would be less about irritating ads popping up on the video you are trying to watch and more about focusing on championing great film makers and backing them with some serious cash. Could You Tube become the new Hollywood, with crowd fund backers funding new film makers who no longer have to use traditional distribution channels - yes it could. Will it do this - I really hope so. Charlie bit me? Do you know what - I really don't care.

    • Martin Salter

      I hate these damn auto facebook tweet things - I didn't even authorise this to go up. It's all getting a bit sinister me thinks !!!

    • Jonathan Mayo

      so your day didn't get better then....

  • Ronnie Bincer

    I ordered my copy and it should be here soon.

    I agree with Nalt's perspective (mentioned in this article) that posted on YouTube is huge for getting your video/content found. (as those that my follow my comments know) I am a fan of YouTube as the primary place for my and my client's videos... which is why I struggle so much with the Video Sitemap issue since that seems to do nothing for Posted videos (to date).

    Maybe Google/YouTube will eventually come up with a way to claim ownership of a YouTube video and then having the YouTube embed on my site will be valuable to Video Site Maps.

  • David Curtis

    I'm reading it now, and I agree it's well worth the time. Great job, Nalts!