How do you keep people’s attention? By building… tension

What makes some content go viral and other content completely flop?

It’s a great question, and if I could give you a definitive answer, I’d be a billionaire. It’s an evolving science. But while there may not be an instant magic formula to going viral, there are some factors that successful videos have in common, and you can increase the likelihood of your content succeeding if you pay attention.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Brendan Kane (@brendankane)

So why did this musician, who at the time of releasing this video had only around ten thousand followers, generate a video that did over ten million views?

Watch the first fifteen seconds of the video. Does anything stand out to you? She doesn’t sing a single note. In these crucial first seconds of the video where the audience is deciding whether or not to watch the video or keep scrolling, she stands out by not singing.

What she does do, quite masterfully, is build tension. You’re watching the video and you want to know – “how good is she going to be? Is her voice really worth all this buildup?” And then when she sings, not only does she have a superstar voice, she’s making a personal connection with the audience. You can see it in the smile she gives and the way she makes eye contact with the viewer every so often. She really makes you feel like she’s singing just for you, and it’s that feeling of intimacy that makes people want to watch and share.

Of course, these strategies don’t just apply to singers. Here’s another example:

@drjuliesmithBased on Simons & Chablis selective attention experiment. Video credit Melissa Webb on YT #psychologytest #psychologytricks #learnontiktok #psychology♬ Say So (Instrumental Version) [Originally Performed by Doja Cat] – Elliot Van Coup

This video also does a great job at stopping the scroll, and it starts with those first few seconds of building tension. The viewer is instantly engaged, wanting to play along with the test to see if they can “pass” it. Dr. Julie doesn’t feel the need to over-explain her psychology test, which could potentially overwhelm the viewer – she trusts that the viewer will be interested enough to stay with her the whole way through. The whole video, you’re watching intently, even though you’re not really sure what the “test” really is. And just like the last video, the payoff – finding out that while you were paying attention to one thing, you probably missed some other stuff – is satisfying and worth the wait.

Feel like there’s just one thing that’s holding you back from success? This may be the right fit for you…Register for my master class here.

Work with brendan