Much like it has done almost everything else, the Internet has changed marketing. Gone are the days when the golden ticket was putting the right ad in the right place to have people talk about it the next day in the office – and taking its place is the viral video.
Viral videos are a curious thing; they’re one of the most powerful tools in the marketer’s arsenal, but whether there’s a formula for making one is a contested topic.
Can you really make one deliberately or do they just happen naturally when you happen to be recording a panda in the zoo when it sneezes?
Well, I believe that the answer is somewhere in the middle. Certainly getting your video to go viral requires some degree of luck, but we can at least create the right context and do everything we can to help it on its way. With that in mind, here’s a few tips to think about:
There’s a couple of video types which are just inherently better at becoming viral. Predictably, these are the ones which get shared the most, and these fall into a number of categories.
Funny: Everyone loves funny, and I would say that I see considerably more funny videos shared on social networks than any other style. People want to be the source of something their friends will like, and there’s an amount of perceived street-cred for being the first to find and share something. Of course, ‘funny’ is a subjective thing, and that’s where keeping your fingers crossed comes in…
Weird: Weird content is sharable because it’s so remarkably memorable. Think of Gangnam Style by PSY – it’s not necessarily a musical masterpiece, but it’s quirky and watchable, and that sort of thing gets noticed. Gangnam Style has a ‘have you watched it yet?’ element to it and leads to feeling as though you’re missing out on something if you haven’t. This is exactly the right kind of weird.
Cute: There’s relatively little to be said on this one. People like cute things; whether this be a puppy falling asleep or a snowman travelling to buy a gift for his snowwoman wife as in this Christmas’ John Lewis advert. Generally, cute is quite a tough thing to incorporate into a selling environment, so you’ll need to think hard on this one.
Ridiculous: Posting something completely ridiculous will probably get you noticed, but that doesn’t mean always for the right reasons. If you’re a well established name with strong customer loyalty then you can probably get away with this and it’ll work well, but if you’re new to the scene then perhaps steer clear of it.
Poignant: Poignant is fairly well tried and tested. A video which makes people stop and think is likely to get shared for the same reason that a funny video will; people want to be the one to get their friends thinking.
Remember that whichever you choose, the most important things to address are the thumbnail, the description and the title; many a good video has been lost at the wayside because they’ve failed to catch people’s attention.
Distribution is key. Even with the best video in the world there’s still plenty of potential to fall flat without a good sharing network. Once you’ve posted your video, share it on your social networks, ask your friends to share it, blog about it, email it out to your mailing list. Do everything you can to get it out there in as many places as possible.
Remember also that there are bloggers out there with a huge audience and a very powerful opinion; whether this be on YouTube or their own website. Reach out to them and even a few positive responses will work wonders.
Above all though, remember the element of luck. Not everything can go viral, and if one out of every ten of your videos is successful then you’re doing well. Keep producing, watch your audience to see what went wrong and try again.