Going Viral

by Ken Mueller on September 18, 2012 · 15 comments

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4440388209 4cd37012ab Going Viral

As a marketing and communications professional in the digital realm, people come to me to help them market their businesses online. They’ll ask me to help them “market this” or “promote this”, and I’ll come along side them and help them do just that.

My goal is to help them build a fully, integrated online (and offline) strategy that helps them meet their stated goals.

But there’s one thing I can’t do.

Very often in conversation someone will asks,

Can you create a viral video for us?

It seems we’ve become so accustomed to talking about videos going viral, that apparently there is no such thing as just plain old video anymore. We don’t work to create a video; we work to create a “viral video”.

You can create videos, but you can’t, with any certainty, create viral videos. You just can’t.

Oh, you can try, and you can work hard to do everything that’s required of you in order to make a video go viral, but there are no guarantees. Think about the videos that have gone viral. Some of them are professionally made music videos. Others are the lowest quality videos of funny or interesting random moments. You can’t predict viral. You can create the most compelling video content, but unless the right people see it (and share it) at the right time, it won’t go viral.

Did you know that about 72 hours worth of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute? And every person uploading each of those videos is hoping that their video will go viral, and yet many of them will get very few views at all.

And it’s not just videos. Images, tweets, blog posts, and any other form of content are all things that we want to see go viral. I write a post here every day, and I hope that people will read it. I work to build my audience over time in hopes that more people will read and more people will share. Yet, very few of my posts get anywhere near anything that I would consider viral. I have a few posts that have performed extremely well for me in terms of a much larger number of people reading them and passing them along. But that’s about it, and I certainly can’t plan them.

So do you want a video to go viral? Here are a few things you can do:

1. Create great video content – Make it funny, make it compelling, make it amazing. Whatever you do, make it relevant and make it great.

2. Get it out there – Post it, share it, spread it around, and don’t give up.

But even then, no one can promise viral.

Also, remember that viral is a relative term. Viral for Justin Bieber or a Fortune 500 company is different than viral for Joe’s Scrapple Emporium & Tattoo Shop. Getting a thousand views would be a major disappointment for the first two, but Joe would be thrilled with that many views.

Oh, and one more thing. Going viral isn’t always a good thing. Just ask Fedex, United Airlines, or, dare I say, Rebecca Black.

Just don’t come to me and say,

“Let’s make a viral video!”

Instead, ask me to help you create a great and compelling video that fits into your overall marketing plan. I’ll do everything I can to get it out there, and we’ll see what happens. But I won’t promise viral.

Have you tried using video as part of your online marketing  plan? How has it worked for you?

 

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15 comments
mcahalane
mcahalane

"Joe’s Scrapple Emporium & Tattoo Shop"... I wasn't sure whether to laugh or groan at that one! Great post, as usual, Ken.

TedRubin
TedRubin

Most do not realize that a video going viral is very often just what they do not want. Not only are few prepared to leverage the results, and most do not even know how, but most often the reason it goes viral is not even in line with your business goals. So listen to Ken and build a business strategy around using video as a thoughtful part of your overall marketing plan. 

RyanKBiddulph
RyanKBiddulph

Trying to make content go viral is the quick way to create a bland video. Force negates. Speak your mind. Solve a problem. Inspire. Viral takes care of itself when you focus on the basics. Thanks for sharing Ken. 

kmueller62
kmueller62

@johnhaydon Thanks for the RT, John!

kmueller62
kmueller62

@amywagner23 Thanks for sharing, Amy!

kmueller62
kmueller62

@barrettrossie you can't afford me...

barrettrossie
barrettrossie

Well, I sure ain't hiring you to make a viral video for me! :-) 

It's a good point. I've heard the same question a bunch of times. The problem is -- incredible creativity is hard. Look at all the ad agencies creating all the tv commericals, with all their resources. And how many of them would you actually want to share? Not many, even including the Super Bowl spots. 

annedreshfield
annedreshfield

Do you think we could get our video of pranking Jeremy to go viral, Ken? 

Latest blog post: Test

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@barrettrossie Seriously. I would bet that most videos that go viral just do so without anyone really planning it. It kind of happens.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@annedreshfield I tried. I really did. I wanted to do more of those, but it kinda fell flat. How the heck are you??

annedreshfield
annedreshfield

@KenMueller I'm doing well! Burning up here in Southern California -- it's been in the 90s and 100s for the past three weeks. Can't wait for fall weather! How about you? 

Latest blog post: Test

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