Nowadays shooting a web video is as simple as having a low-budget digital camera, a bootstrap crew, or even just a few willing friends and a cell phone. Given the wide-open nature of the digital media space, it has become more and more difficult to make a mark in web series content. However, there are some simple tricks that you can employ in order to take an average series and make it go viral. Ideally, this newfound fame will open lots of doors for your actors and the creators behind the series.
Attach a celebrity, and lacking that, the best actors possible
It might be easier said that done, but having celebrities as part of your web series will guarantee at least a few hundred thousand views outright. Reach out to managers and agents once your first script and/or sizzle reel is completed and see if they’ll have their clients star. If you hit a wall, then cast up-and-coming talent or unknowns that are amazing actors. At the very least, this will make your web series watchable and get your concept across for later distribution.
Pick the largest platform possible for distribution
Instead of just posting your series on YouTube and hoping for the best, consider if other outlets (Buzzfeed, Vimeo etc.) might be better homes for your series. Reach out to the heads of PR at video platforms and see if they’d be open to featuring your work.
Promote on social media. And promote often.
Before filming even begins on the first episode of your series, you should have a Twitter account and a Facebook page announcing it. Sharing and saturation of the marketplace via social media are the bread and butter of a viral series. Every time an episode is released or the show is mentioned in the press there should be a mention on your social sites. Another way of achieving reposts is by getting a blog to feature your web series. Make friends with PR representatives at major websites and make sure you tell them when your episodes are released.
Invest in music
Nothing lends a polished look to a piece of content more than good music. If there’s anything to go over-budget on it is your sound-mix/music. It doesn’t have to be overly complicated for a comedy web series, but comedy without music is suddenly FAR less funny to the viewer.
Try and sell your series to a larger broadcaster
Once your web series achieves a high level of success, the best way to continue its growth is to make a deal with a major channel or over-the-top distributor (Netflix, Amazon etc). Some examples of shows that did this are BROAD CITY (HBO) or GENTELEMEN LOBSTERS (Seeso).
The main takeaway however, should be that your content must be something you believe in deeply. The path to a successful web series is long nights, big edits and many re-writes. If you don’t love the project in the first place, you’re better off not trying to achieve viral fame.