Viral Videos - Will they work for your business?

Many businesses today want to commission viral content to aid them in their marketing strategy; however the term "viral" isn't so clear cut.  The term “viral” describes a process rather than a product, it is what happens to content when it gets swept up and carried along the currents of the internet, so in other words it spreads. It is the degree to which this content spreads that determines whether or not you can consider it viral, today what constitutes viral is content that spreads across huge audiences in a very short space of time, usually through social media platforms. It can be measured in terms of likes, shares, retweets, views and trending topics.

You might remember Volkswagens 2011 Super Bowl ad which features a pint-sized Darth Vader, whose attempts to use the Force finally work when the all-new 2012 Passat arrives on his driveway. The Passat ad appeared on YouTube the week before its TV debut on February 6, 2011. By the next morning, the video had received one million views; the number reached 8 million before the commercial aired on TV. The online version lasted sixty seconds, compared to thirty in the broadcast version, and the longer version stood out more in people's minds. As of February 7, the video had more than 15 million views. To date the video has attracted 5,165,131 Facebook shares; 114,826 Twitter shares and 4,873 blog posts a great example of content going viral!


What you need to consider is this, is a viral video what you need to promote your business?  A viral marketing campaign is all about engaging your customers on a global scale, whereas a promotional one is about exposing targeted audiences/customers to your business and letting them know you're out there. It goes without saying that video plays a massive role in both of these, in 2012, audienceschose to watch video ads 4.6 billion times, about 13.2 million times every day, and over 150 times per second. Think of this, that's 4.6 billion times that people actively decided to watch video advertising. According to the Online Publishers Association, 80% of Internet users recalled watching a video ad on a website they visited in the past 30 days. Of that 80%, 46% took some action after viewing the ad…

• 26% looked for more information about the subject of the video
• 22% visited the website named in the ad
• 15% visited the company represented in the video ad
• 12% purchased the specific product featured in the ad

You might be thinking, "If my content's went viral isn't it doing the same thing as promotional content should do?" Well no it isn't because, one of the drawbacks of something going viral is that YES! You've managed to grab everyone's attention although; as with all things viral they tend to be short lived until the next big thing comes along. A promo video or "ad" doesn't tend to suffer this drawback. Think of it this way, you commissioned some content and it went viral people online were sharing, liking and talking about it, it was "trending"… However, if you commission one good quality promotional video you're going to give people a lasting a memory of your business. Remember the purpose behind all the content you commission to promote your business, to drive sales of the product you deliver. Instead of starting a campaign thinking “I want this to go viral”, think first of the content! The first thing you need is content that is high quality and engaging, something that people will relate to, it has to be something that will make people want to share it and talk about it and most importantly THINK about it.


Video content is king on the internet so this is the best place to start, you need to achieve a balance between delivering the message you’re trying to get across and keeping people entertained enough to continue watching it. It’s suggested that 30 seconds is the maximum time you have to grab a viewer’s attention before they choose to skip your ad, I would argue that it’s 15 seconds especially on platforms such as Youtube where users are given the chance to skip an ad after 5 seconds. So aside from the aesthetics of making it look and sound wonderful, use your video to tell a story because, people love stories and we love sharing them as well. Keep it short, chances are that people are going to be directed to your video on their way to something else, so it is unlikely they are going to sit through anything longer than about two minutes. Maintain a consistent brand persona, when people are thinking of a product or service that you offer you want them to think of you, if you can build this association in people’s minds successfully they’ll remember you for a long time. With your video try to engage an emotion if you’re making your audience smile, laugh or even feel good about themselves they’reway more likely to share your content among their connections.


This doesn’t mean however that you haven’t reached your objective. So some important aspects to think about before deciding whether or not you want to launch a viral campaign as opposed to a promotional one are;

• What can a viral campaign do for your business that a promotional one can’t?
• What objective am I trying to achieve with my video content?
• Is my content delivering the message I want to get across?
• Is it good enough that people will deem it share worthy?