It’s a popular question for every marketer and advertising agency, “how can we make this video go viral?”

Such a simple question should have an equally simple solution. And judging from the attention that American fashion photographer Terry Richardson received last week, it appears to be. The secret formula for every viral video should start with:

  • One part supermodel.
  • One part bikini (OK, maybe two parts bikini).
  • And of course, a phat beat.

If you haven’t heard of the “cat daddy”, it is a dance move made popular by the group the Rej3ctz and Chris Brown. So when Richardson and supermodel Kate Upton had some downtime during a photo shoot, it made sense to film the bombshell dancing.

Richardson initially uploaded the video to YouTube, where it was promptly banned, and shared it on his blog.

After the video hit the Web, interest in Kate Upton hit a spike, rivaling the interest surrounding the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition.

A week later, the official videos from Terry Richardson have seen 2.3 million views on Vimeo and 4.9 million views on YouTube, respectively.

Miss Kate Upton may just be a dancing machine. In April of 2011, she uploaded a video of herself doing the Dougie at a Clippers game. To date, the video has seen nearly  7 million views.

While Kate Upton in a bikini may help your video “go viral,” the real secret is in Richardson’s approach. He has taken his audience behind the scenes of a photo shoot to see Upton being herself. And it just so happens that being herself involves dancing in a bikini.

Before you ask to make a viral video, consider this – would you want to watch it over and over? Would your friends and family watch it repeatedly? Would strangers want to watch it multiple times, and share it?  If creating a “viral video” was easy, everyone would do it.

So the lesson learned is that success starts with great content. Does your video fulfill a need? Is it funny? Is it unexpected?Is it surprising? Is it short? Note: no one wants to watch a 15 minute product driven video. Consider commentary on recent events.

The point here is, you need to start with a strong concept. And that takes much more work than just uploading a cute video of a baby or someone getting kicked in the balls.

And when all else fails, consider this. Is your video sexy? If not, contact a supermodel and ask if she wants to dance for the camera – and perhaps YouTube.