Just make it go viral! We hear that all the time from building product marketers that want to gain exposure, early adoption and excitement around product launches. Just shoot a video, post it on YouTube and let’s wait for the millions of views we are going to receive. If only it were that easy!
Because of a few well-publicized success stories like Orabrush, “viral video” has become a common term used throughout the marketing world, and it’s promoted the misconception that putting a video online equals a viral video. That’s no different from saying you want a “sales-driving print ad” or a “ROI-generating sales promotion.” We can plan a strategy around that desired result but calling it “viral” won’t make it so – only your audience can do it. However, there are tactics we can employ to up the probability of it.
Understand what really makes a video go viral
At the South by Southwest panel “Viral is a Dirty Word,” Ogilvy’s Robert John Davis and Jeremy Sanchez explained that distribution and promotion are still critical to the process as well as having a plan for the creative execution. Here’s some of the high points:
1. Have a plan. No one is going to magically stumble across a video that no one put any effort into planning and producing — much less watch and share it. Start by pulling trending words from Google and look for “trigger” terms that will help craft a message your audience will find valuable. When coming up with your concept, look to target specific groups of people, rather than try to pull off a concept you think appeals to everyone. Keep in mind that most viewers who start your video won’t finish it, so don’t put a URL or call to action during the last few seconds. Get them in early. Lastly, think about the platforms your audience views your videos on, because the aesthetic quality will change from desktop, to tablet, to mobile. The Multi-Channel Funnel feature of Google Analytics is a great way to harvest this data.
2. Don’t forget about distribution and promotion. We tend to think that “viral” means free. Not the case. Videos take time to catch fire, and if you want them to make their way around the Web, you have to remember to do more than just tagging and posting to social networks.
3. There are 3 kinds of media you can use to complete the promotion circle: paid, earned and owned. Paid media is the most important to marketers, because regardless of the creativity behind your video, there’s a 99% chance that it will not reach a fraction of the audience you have in mind unless you pay to promote it. You can also use promotions and content partnerships to your advantage if you’ve got the budget to fit them in. Earned comes from sharing, blog features and embeds on YouTube, which is a direct result of proper tagging, relevant content and a little of the paid stuff paying off. Of course, owned media is you promoting through your own channels.
So, we know videos work. We know great content can get momentum behind it and gain exposure, but remember to think about it as one more part of the puzzle of your campaign launch and deploy sound marketing logic to get the exposure you crave.