Okay, anyone expecting to find the ten most definite tips on making a viral video here might as well stop reading now.
The truth is, despite what you might be thinking about “virality” of some videos, as a business looking to advance and promote your brand online virality might not be what you need.
Confused yet? Allow me to elaborate and let’s start at the very beginning and that’s by looking at what exactly constitutes a “viral content”. The definition varies but here are some most commonly accepted explanations – a content (be it video, image or a blog) that experiences a rapid growth in views, shares and mentions over a short period of time.
The consensus on “rapid” and “short period of time” is not unanimous but it is generally agreed that if a video gets more than 100,000 views within a week it has “gone viral”. It is not uncommon for some of those videos to get over 1 million views within a month. These numbers are what makes this phenomena so attractive to marketing and promotional managers world wide, especially to those representing smaller brands with modest budgets. It’s not hard to see why; make one viral video and with hardly any effort you can reach over a million people with one swift hit. The brand reaches international recognition and fame almost overnight. Genius.
This attitude, although slightly exaggerated, is not uncommon. I have lost count how many times I have been asked to make a “viral video” and this article is an extended version of the reply I usually give to those asking.
A little bit of research shows that a vast majority of viral videos are of personal nature and feature, to a large extent, strange behaviour of various domestic animals and, to a lesser extent, people. A lot of these videos lay dormant and largely unnoticed for months or even years before they get picked up by re-distributing channel with a large audience like failblog.org w or mashable.com which catapults them to the viral fame. It is worth noting here that this fame is not very long-lasting and as soon as the next singing cat or girl falling off her chair comes along its predecessor fades into online obscurity.
While this Warhol-esque 15 minutes of fame is great for the person featured or credited with posting such a video, it is hard to translate such a fleeting and random exposure to marketing success. It is also not unreasonable to assume that luck or at least lucky co-incidence plays a large part in the success of these videos. You simply cannot plan or count on a video to go viral.
Which brings me to my main point. Don’t be pre-occupied with the virality factor of your videos. Aim to make a great video rather than a viral one. Concentrate on a creative, clever concept and the views will come.
Your aim should be to build a loyal following that can be retained over a long period of time. Just like with most branding exercises you should always have short term and long term goals in mind. So, rather than trying to hit that elusive “virality” target in one go, aim to build a genuinely interesting YouTube channel with a regular, quality content and focus on growing your subscriber base. Do it right and your videos will soon be hitting the views usually attributed to “virals”.
Remember, the popularity of any video is based on its content, so it’s important your videos are creative, fresh and offer something new, even if it’s just a new way of looking at something. Don’t count on that first video to get a million views. Keep making them and build your subscriber base, read and respond to the comments. Make your YouTube channel a part of your marketing plan and your returns will be far greater than just 15 minutes of fame.
In Part 2 we will look at some of the most successful viral commercials.