How we make videos go viral on social media

3 months ago AJ

At MinuteVideos we do a lot of research on social media so we can make our videos go viral on Facebook and YouTube. These platforms run on algorithms, so if you know how they work, it’s much easier to make videos that go viral reliably.

For example, in 2017 we figured out that Facebook changed its algorithm to prefer “average watch time” over “shares”, which means that videos should be longer. Videos that are at least 6 minutes long with a good story have a pretty good chance of going viral, while it’s almost impossible for videos that are under 2 minutes.

Our research comes from several channels in several languages, some of which we own ourselves and some of which are owned by our partners and customers. The following is a list of our most popular channels:

1. MinuteVideos Thailand Facebook Page

  • Followers: 700,000
  • Total video views: 60,000,000
  • Minutes Watched: 100,000,000

MinuteVideos Thailand is our main Facebook page where we do most of our research.

This page started in August 2016 when we made two videos explaining the new constitution which was being voted on in Thailand. Because they went viral we decided to continue to make videos for this country, which lead to 60 million views and over 700,000 followers the next year. This enormous traffic makes this our main research page to understand the Facebook algorithm and how to develop new storytelling formats that go viral. Every week we launch 2-3 videos to test new formats and stay up to date with any changes to the Facebook algorithm.

2. Sprouts YouTube Channel

  • Subscribers: 150,000
  • Total video views: 6,000,000
  • Minutes Watched: 15,000,000

Sprouts is a partner channel for which we produce all the videos. This is the biggest English following that we have and our best resource to study the YouTube algorithm. While both Facebook and YouTube focus mostly on average watch time, the biggest difference is that YouTube doesn’t “autoplay” videos like Facebook. This means a video’s title and thumbnail are very important.

3.MinuteVideos YouTube YouTube Channel

  • Subscribers: 15,000
  • Total video views: 2,000,000
  • Minutes Watched: 5,000,000

MinuteVideos is our most active English channel for multilingual content.

MinuteVideos is our main English YouTube channel where we feature videos that were produced in English and later translated into other languages or the other way around. It’s a great way for us to understand which part of a video’s success comes from the algorithm and which is due to cultural factors.

4. MinuteBusiness Thailand Facebook Page

  • Followers: 60,000
  • Total Video views: 3,000,000
  • Minutes Watched: 5,000,000

MinuteBusiness Thailand is our first “Network Page”

MinuteBusiness Thailand was the first page where we experimented with the concept that it’s more effective to have many smaller Facebook pages linked together as a network instead of just 1 really big one. So whenever we create a video that is related to business, we don’t post it to our main page with 700,000 followers. Instead we post it to “MinuteBusiness Thailand” and then share it to our main page. Of course this doesn’t get as many views as directly uploading to the main page, but it gives Facebook enough views to decide if it likes the video and make it go viral on its own. The benefits of having such a “network of pages” is that each of them can be tailored much better to their target audiences, which leads to better branding and conversions. The fact that we were able to reach 60,000 followers and 3 million views after posting just 4 videos on this page shows that this is a viable marketing strategy that should be considered by more digital marketers.

5. Other significant channels:

MinuteVideos Thailand YouTube Channel

  • Subscribers: 13,000
  • Total Video views: 1,000,000
  • Minutes Watched: 3,000,000

MinuteVideos Facebook page

  • Followers: 15,000
  • Total Video views: 2,000,000
  • Minutes Watched: 2,000,000

Typing Practice: How to make better explainer videos.

a year ago marc schwyn

That's right. If you want to make better explainer videos we highly encourage you to learn how to type faster and without conscious effort. It doesn't really matter if you're a client, script writer, storyboard artist, editor or the project manager. Learning how to type faster and taking control of your keyboard will improve your work in many aspects.

If we take a moment to think about this, it becomes obvious very quickly. Most of us spend the majority of our working days on the computer, to which the keyboard is the most important source of input. Yet we differ widely in our ability to use this most important device. some people type at 30 words per minute, many get to 60 and only very few get to 90, 100 and beyond.

But think about it.. If you can increase your typing speed from 50 to 100 that's doubling the speed at which you use your computer. Emails done twice as fast, notes written in a flash, entire articles written in half the time. More importantly this is not like making a "deal with the devil" where typing faster also means you get tired sooner or develop repetitive strain injuries.. In contrast, it's like a basketball player with bad eyesight getting her first glasses or changing from windows to macOS...

Learning how to type faster necessarily comes with learning how to type healthy. Correct position equals more words per minute (wpm) and less injuries. More importantly it requires less work from your brain. When your working on the computer you use your brain to make an argument, describe a situation, give feedback... Creative stuff that puts a load on your brain. But your brain also has to think about how to phrase your argument, then how to spell the individual words and then where to find the letters to type them.

Typing practice means that only after a few weeks you'll be able to find letters on your keyboard subconsciously. You'll even remember how to spell them. All you have to do is think about a sentence and it will automatically flow from your fingers like magic! This means that your conscious brain doesn't have to do a lot of work and instead you can focus on making a good argument and packaging it in a well written sentence.

In other words, you'll have a multiplier effect. Typing faster times more brain capacity means exponentially better arguments, scripts, comments, instructions and thus making explainer videos that are exponentially better in quality.

And here's the good news: Typing practice doesn't take very long and it's not very difficult at all. There's lots of free gamified websites out there that work amazing and are lots of fun. It's not like learning a new language that takes years. Just signup and follow their instructions. Practice 20 minutes per day for a month and you'll improve your accuracy and speed by 2 or 3 times in just a few weeks.

Personally I love which combines a super nice interface, games and beautiful explainer videos all around typing. And when you're ready for it you can visit where you can face-off against other internet users. It's very addictive.

Storyboard description guidelines for hand-drawn explainer videos

a year ago marc schwyn

Storyboard Descriptions (SD) are a step in the MinuteVideos production where we describe what the storyboarding artist should sketch for each scene. This is done after the script is confirmed and before storyboarding begins.

Storyboard descriptions are meant to make the production process more efficient by reducing the time spent on storyboarding and revisions. But it's also meant to improve the overall quality of the drawings because coming up with fitting illustrations is a different skill from drawing them well, which is why they should be done by different professionals.

In this article we're describing the basic guidelines for writing Storyboard Descriptions. Some of these are more important for the artist, but it's good if the person doing the descriptions keeps them in mind as well.

Storyboard Descriptions are written in the comment section to each scene with a description for every item. You can see an example in the image below.


In the image above you can see 3 main parts. The script text (which will be read by the voice over), the storyboard image (which is drawn by the storyboard artist) and the comment section on the left (which is used by the storyboard descriptions writer and other collaborators).

In the script text you can see numbers in the square brackets. These numbers are there to show the duration of each image. During the time it takes the voice over reads this text, the corresponding image will be drawn. Then, in the comment section on the right you can see the descriptions that corresponds to each number from the square brackets in the script. Finally the artist will draw the image and add the colorful numbers that you can see in the image above, but of course this doesn't exist when you're writing the storyboard descriptions.

Writing the storyboard descriptions is a tough task that requires a lot of creativity, reading text, seeing images in your head and communicating them well for the artist and collaborators. So here are some general tips and guidelines to help make this task easier and improve the quality of the storyboard.

  1. Develop the scene from the top left to the bottom right.

It's important that the items on the top left are drawn first because otherwise the hand will cover them up when it's drawing the next item. It's very annoying for the viewer when an image that they have already seen gets covered up.

  1. Try not to leave any blank spaces on the scene.

Unintentional blank spaces on the scene look amateurish and lazy. Also, because explainer videos are mostly watched on the phone, on YouTube and Facebook, the space on the screen is precious and should be used to its fullest.

  1. Try to give each element as much weight/importance as the text that corresponds to it. If an image reflects 2 out of 3 sentences in a scene it should also cover ca. 70% of the space. This will help the speed of the animation stay roughly the same. If you draw something very small for a lot of text and something very big for very little text, the big thing will be drawn very fast, which looks hectic and the small thing will look choppy because it's been slowed down too much.

  2. Try to create one overarching theme for each scene instead of many little items. This makes the whole thing prettier and more impressive.

Often this can be done by imagining a scene where many things are happening. and then the individual items can be fit into different locations of the scene.

If you can't imagine a real life scene that combines all the items then you can also connect them with geometric shapes or other design features.

Storyboard descriptions for marketing explainer videos on Facebook

a year ago marc schwyn

The 3 main steps in making an explainer video is script writing, storyboarding and production. In and around these steps are several important tasks that can make or break your video. Because they all build on each other, every step has to be done well in order to get good results.

In this article we discuss storyboard descriptions, which are text descriptions of what the artist should draw. They are done after your script is approved and before the sketching artist gets to work.

The reason this is a separate step from storyboarding is that coming up with a fitting illustration and drawing it are two different skills. The first is about "meaning" while the second is about "making it look good". Many people can be good at doing one of those things, but very few people are good at doing both!

Storyboard descriptions for Facebook explainer videos are different from YouTube explainer videos because of Facebook's autoplay function. This means that instead of a thumbnail, most people are going to see the first scene of the video playing without sound, which means the first scene now does the same job that a thumbnail used to do.

  • The first scene has to grab the attention of the viewer and tell the viewer what's in the video.

Designing the first scene

For the hand-drawn explainer videos from, we include a big title on the top left of the scene and then a single image that's as impressive as possible. The title has to be on the top left so that it can be drawn or faded in first. This means the viewer will know instantly if the video is interesting or not. If the title was drawn on the bottom right for example the hand will cover it when it's drawing anything to its top or left side, which is very annoying to watch.

And here is the intro scene from our Symptoms of Depression video that does this quite well.


And here's a second example from our Bipolar video:


Designing your introduction or "thumbnail scene" this way is extremely important. We believe that this can change the reach of your video by a factor of 10 or more. This is based on data from our Thai Facebook page with over 5 million organic video views. All of our videos that reached between 1-5 million people organically have been designed this way.

All of our videos that did not have a thumbnail scene reached only between 50,000 - 300,000 people. Below you can see an example of an introduction scene that doesn't work because it jumps right into the information without a title and has lots of small illustrations (We only have this example with Thai writing).


The reason this is so important is 2-fold. First, it makes more people notice your video, giving you a better view rate overall. Second, because you explain what's in the video people can make up their minds quickly if they want to watch it. So people who wouldn't like the topic anyways don't even start watching while people who would like it are more likely to notice your video and watch it. Because these people are also more likely to share your video you end up getting a higher share to reaction to view ratio. And that's very important. Based on our data, Facebook heavily depends on the number of shares, not likes, to decide if it is going to show content to more people. As a rule of thumb if your video has more shares than reactions, you're on track to going viral.. So in summary, it's really the title page that "makes or breaks" the success of your explainer video on Facebook.

Beyond the title

Facebook videos are also different than YouTube or Website videos for the other scenes because more than 50% of the people watch them without sound.


This means that you have to mix enough text with the images so that the viewer understands the content. Sadly, you can't really use Facebook subtitles because then you have two things going on (images and text at the same time) and Facebook subtitles don't demand enough attention.

To do this we recommend an additional step before you do the storyboard descriptions which we call "script reduction". During this step you cut out anything that's not absolutely necessary from the script and reduce what's left to bullet points. Most likely this will be the text that you will write in the scene. Of course some bullet points you can still draw as an image if it can be understood without explanation.

Below you can see two scenes from the Symptoms of Depression Video that do this well. Even though both of them could be improved by including a title to explain what the scene is about.

Script text:
Depression can come from many different causes[1] like genetics and chemical imbalances in the brain but it's most often triggered by a traumatic event [2] like the loss of a loved one or personal failure.[3]


Script text:
Just because someone is suffering from depression it doesn't mean that they are weak, give up easily or are unwilling to tackle a problem. [1] But due to the illness that has occurred to their mental state, [2] it means that they are not ready to face the issue. [3] It's like being in a pitch dark room and no matter where they turn, they just can't see the exit. [4]


General storyboard description guidelines

Beyond the guidelines above, storyboard descriptions for Facebook should follow the other basic rules like they should be for YouTube or Website videos. You can read about them on our Storyboard description guidelines for hand-drawn explainer videos article.

How to draw stick figures and 2D environments for base packgae explainer videos

a year ago marc schwyn

The base package is our most simple and affordable type of storyboarding. Compared to our other storyboarding styles we only use stick figures for people. Items are draw with much less detail and shading than our premium add-ons and we draw them in 2D instead of 3D whenever possible.

Our stick figures are generally drawn with a box like body which makes it easier for us to draw and write things on them to show who they are, what they do and things like that. From the boxed body there’s 2 lines each for the legs and arms. The arms are connected to hands which also have a surface area. The head isn’t directly connected to the box that represents the body, instead it floats over it. The head should also be oversized to emphasise emotions and expressions.

Here are some more examples of our stick figures. image

And here are some examples of base package videos from our portfolio

Telling the World’s Stories (Educational):

Unhelpful Thinking Patterns (Counselling):

Local Futures (Activism):

PRNA (Marketing):

ListingBidder (Ecommerce):

The Formal vs. Comic Storyboarding Style

a year ago marc schwyn

At MinuteVideos we have basic and premium storyboarding styles.

  • The basic style is drawn in 2D and uses stick figures for people.
  • The premium styles are drawn in 3D and additional detail for people and objects.

Our two most popular premium styles are Formal and Comic. Here is how they are different:

The formal storyboarding style means we draw items and people as realistic as possible. This is especially useful for technical videos that need to accurately depict visual details and for business oriented videos that prefer a more corporate feel.

Comic style drawings are drawn more simply and with more emphasis on emotion in people and function in objects.

Here are some examples of people illustrated using the formal and comic storyboarding styles.


In this graphic you can see the progression of a realistic face towards a minutevideos style cartoon face around number 4 and then all the way towards a character development around number 6.


How we record explainer videos at MinuteVideos

a year ago marc schwyn

Many of you have asked which pens we use to create our videos. Let me take this opportunity to explain our recording process in a little more detail. This is actually one of the most important parts about how we make our explainer videos so affordable.

Here's what's important:

  • Camera: Logitech c930e
  • Recording Software: VideoVelocity from Candylabs
  • Lighting: We built our own racks that provide cover from external light and fits the camera neatly in a circle of multi step LED bulbs.
  • Video Storage: Google Drive
  • Video Editing: Adobe Premiere Pro
  • Paper: Renaissance Watercolor Pad
  • Pens (basic video): Pigma Graphic 1 (see picture below)
  • Pens (Shading + Text): Copic Sketch
  • Pens (Water Color): Pentel Arts Watercolors

The art in the production is to produce highest quality videos on fairly basic and affordable equipment. For example, we started out using high end video cameras for our recording, but this was bulky and resulted in large video files that had to be reformatted before we could start working with them properly. In the beginning a project folder would use around 5GB in storage and it would take forever to sync them to the cloud. Today we record higher quality video files with much cheaper technology. We use one of the worlds highest quality webcams that sells for ca. $150. This camera ends up with better quality because it's so small and light that we can build it in directly with the light source. This means there's almost no shadows and the lens can be very close to the paper without disturbing the artist.

Even better, the VideoVelocity software allows us to record the video directly to the computer in almost any format we like. We use very high resolution but only about 5mbps which means our project folders now use about 500mb. This allows for very easy syncing to the cloud and easy collaboration around the globe. Video Velocity also has a couple more features that are very helpful. Most importantly its got motion detection which means it will only record when the artist is actually drawing, so there will be no "blank gaps" in the final video.

Here are some pictures from our Studio

Pens for black and white explainer videos image

Pens for watercolor explainer videos image

Artist at work :) image

Camera and Light Rig image

Thanks for learning how we make our explainer videos. If you have any questions please email us to

How to create an "External Annotation" for your Explainer Video on YouTube.

a year ago marc schwyn

Have you ever seen a video on YouTube and then suddenly a dim colored box appeared on the screen with some text? These are called "Annotations" by YouTube and they're handy for a couple of reasons.

  1. First, Annotations allow you to make changes to the information in your video.

Most video platforms don't allow you to make changes to your video file. So if you need to change something in your video, you'll have to upload a new version, which means you'll loose your view count, comments and all other interactions. This is especially bad if your video is getting lots of traffic from search and other sources. But YouTube allows you to add and delete annotations on your video which give you at least some freedom to modify the information your viewers see.

  1. Second, you can link annotations to a URL with what YouTube calls "External Annotations. However, to avoid it's users linking to lots of scammy sites online YouTube requires you to prove that you own the site you are linking to. This means that setting up your first external annotation can be a bit tricky.

Here are the steps you need to follow to setup the first "External Annotation" for your Explainer Video on YouTube.

1. Verify your YouTube channel

This is quite easy. All you need to do is associate a phone number with your account. To do this, follow the 4 steps in the image below: Login to your YouTube account > 1. Click on your user icon on the top right > 2. Click on "Creator Studio" > 3. Click "Channel" in the menu on the left > 4. Click the blue "Verify" button and then follow the instructions.


2. Ad an associated website to your YouTube channel

Once your channel is verified you can add an associated website. To do this, go back to your "Creator Studio" > Channel > Advanced > Scroll down > Enter your URL > Click add. As you can see in the image below.


Once you've added your URL the status will be "Pending" the screen will look like the image below. Click the "verify" link which will take you to a new screen.


On the new screen select your preferred version to verify that you own the domain you're linking up. If you already have google analytics we recommend that you use that option (it's the fastest). If not, you can also use the domain name provider. Google will allow that for almost any domain name providers.


If the verification worked you should go back to the same page on youtube where it should now say "success" with a green light. If it still says "pending" try clicking the "refresh" button. You can also try clicking the "remove button" followed by the blue "save" button on the bottom of the page and then trying to add your domain once again. If your verification failed, or if it worked and your status keeps saying "pending" you may have an issue with using multiple accounts. If that's the case please send us an email to with as many details as possible so that we can send you more detailed explanations of what you can do about this.


3. Create your first External Annotation

Once your external URL is verified, create your first annotation by going to the editing section of your video. Again, login to your account, click your account icon, creator studio and then the "edit" button next to your video, as you can see in the image below.


Then click the "End Screen & Annotations" tab to get into the annotations editor.


Annotations Editor

Now that you're in the annotations editor you can start playing around. You can create lots of different annotation types, but to show you the ropes we'll first create a grey annotation that links to your website.

Next: 1. Click Annotations > 2. Add annotation (select "Note") > 3. Add a text (you can write your website URL) > 4. Check the box "link" > 5. type your URL > 6. Click Save > 7. Click "apply changes". Now when you go to watch your video you will see your annotation and when you click it you will be redirected to your associated website.


Now your annotation is already working, but you can make it even cooler by placing it at the right spot and during the right time. To place it on the right spot you can drag & drop or resize it by using the tiny boxes on it's edges as you can see in the green arrow 1 in the image above. You can change the time that it appears during the video by dragging and resizing the bar below the video near the green arrow 2 in the image above.

And that's it! You've created your first external annotation. Now that you've verified your external url the next annotation should be much easier to do. So have fun with them and let us know if you face any difficulties or if you have any additional questions via email to