Years, maybe even as long as a decade ago, “going viral” was a bad thing, more than likely implying some sort of hideously contagious disease was in the process of decimating a population. In today’s world, marketers and entrepreneurs toil away with video cameras and computers, laboring long hours in their basement with the goal of making a big time splash on the internet, even if just for a few hours.

You’ve seen the kind of videos we’re talking about. Criminally cute kittens. A Korean rapper who became a worldwide overnight sensation thanks to his innate ability to dance like a horse.

What’s the big deal about a viral video? Whether they admit it or not, most entrepreneurs have visions of dollar signs in their heads. The internet in general and video-centric website like YouTube, in particular, can serve as the largest buying market the world has ever seen. We’re talking big time money. Get millions of people watching a video and throw some kind of product at the back end, it can turn into a gold mine very quickly.

What’s the secret to creating a viral video? Unfortunately, there’s no one in the world that can reliably answer that question. If it were that easy, we’d all be zillionaires. The code for creating the next viral video is a mystery wrapped in an enigma hidden inside a conundrum. Having said that, there are a few common denominators to be found in those videos that manage to find the big wave and ride it for a few moments.

Passion for the Subject: Most successful viral videos are born from the mind of a person truly obsessed with the matter. Trust us, it’s hard to fake passion, and the internet is notoriously hard on those who aren’t sincere.

Respect the Audience: Obviously, you probably won’t be able to provide a thorough explanation of the nature of quantum physics (in the event you’re crazy enough to take on that topic) in a couple minutes of video but don’t talk down to your viewers. They won’t like it and you’ll end up with the most non-viral video in history.

Hook ‘Em, Danno: One thing that most viral videos have in common is a strong emotional hook. Human interest, music, comedy. All these are good to include. And Jason Hartman’s ultimate suggestion? if all else fails, use cats. (Image: Flickr | KOREA.Net)

* Read more from Speaking of Wealth
“7 Habits” a Quarter of a Century Later
The Brain Works in Mysterious Ways

Derek and the Speaking of Wealth Team