These Video Influencers Share Their Best Tips for Creating Viral Content

Theorist Media founders teach brands how to make the most out of videos

Matthew and Stephanie Patrick co-founded Theorist Media.
MatPat

When Matthew Patrick, or MatPat as he’s known online, graduated college, he didn’t know how well his two areas of focus would combine. As a neuroscience and theater double major, he eventually decided to put together his creativity and analytical skills to figure out why things are popular online.

In 2011, he and his wife Stephanie Patrick, a chemistry major in college, created a YouTube channel called The Game Theorists, which now has almost 9 million subscribers and is one of the platform’s top 20 gaming channels; they also created Film Theorists, which has 4.9 million subscribers, and GTLive, which has more than 2 million subscribers and is YouTube’s top livestreaming channel.

“When we started these, we realized these platforms were interesting marriages of creative platforms that were ultimately run by engineers,” he said. “They’re run on an engine of science and math.”

Matthew and Stephanie used their channel as an experiment to see what works for YouTube’s algorithms.
Instagram: @matpatgt

Matthew and Stephanie started to use The Game Theorists channel as an experiment to see what worked with or against YouTube’s algorithms.

“We wanted to learn how to wring every last view out of our videos,” said Stephanie, director and strategy consultant for Theorist Media, which she co-founded with her husband alongside the channels. “But we have to be as efficient as possible, as what we write, shoot and edit is incredibly complicated.”

According to Matthew, each video typically takes up to 100 hours to produce, so they always try to get the most out of every upload.

“By experimenting so much early on, we were able to get a robust set of optimization strategies across many verticals,” he said.

With their channels’ sustained success, Theorist Media is able to take their learnings and teach brands or marketers how to make the most out of their digital and social media videos. Here are some basic questions they frequently get asked by Fortune 500 companies:

What does it mean to be successful on social video platforms?

“The first thing we ask a company that wants to go viral is, ‘why?’” said Stephanie. “There has to be something you want to actually achieve, and we want them to reach that goal instead of the broad ‘viral’ term.”

The team suggests clients decide if they’re trying to build up a fandom, market a product or drive attention to something specific like a movie release. From there, a brand can understand how better to achieve that or determine a measurement of success.

“A lot of companies want just one easy fix that will check every box that means a video went viral,” said Matthew, “but it doesn’t work like that. Some videos are better at driving subscriptions to your channel, some are better at being shared. We can help a brand achieve their goal once they finally nail down what it is they want the video to do.”

What’s the ideal length for a digital video?

Theorist Media understands the frustration of clients who just want to plug their content into a formula that will immediately make a video extremely popular online. But like the above question, the right length depends on the goal you want to reach with the video.

“A lot of people think short content is designed to go viral, but longer content keeps people around for a longer amount of time,” explained Matthew. “If you decide on your goal and the platform you want to upload it to, that will determine the video’s ideal length.”

According to them, YouTube (for now) tends to favor videos that have people watching for longer amounts of time.

“If you get someone intrigued enough to watch for 10 minutes, that video will outperform ones that are the typical two to five minutes in length,” Matthew said.

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