To go viral or not to go viral…that is the question.
Viral. It’s a buzz word that when you’re in our line of work, you get pretty sick of hearing. It’s not that having a video go viral is a bad thing. It’s probably not. But it’s how many potential clients put pressure on themselves to think they need a video - and for that video to go viral. So let’s step back, take a breath and investigate the all powerful “Viral Video.”
First off, if you are hiring a video production or marketing company to produce you a video that you’re hoping will in fact go viral, that is a very tall order to meet. You have already set the bar extremely high, and unless you have the budget to not only shoot and produce something rather amazing, you better have the budget to promote the heck out of it. I’m really not trying to be harsh, but for years we’ve seen people produce a video with us, a well-produced video, maybe a very humorous video, and then do nothing with it. And when I say nothing, I mean it just sits on their website and they share it once on Facebook hoping it’ll be shared by others.
So let’s look at two different examples of videos that went viral and see if we can come up with some logic about this topic.
The first one I’m going to use is Dollar Shave Club. Almost everyone and their brother has seen their original spot from years ago. If you haven’t then here it is. We still get new business calls from people that say, “We want something funny and kind of in your face. Have you ever seen the Dollar Shave Club? You know, something like that.” I’m not kidding, this happens all the time. Can I say, DSC was lightning in a bottle. But the video going viral wasn’t just based solely on a well-produced video with killer writing, acting and timing. No. There was actual Google ad campaign that helped make it a star. I can still remember seeing Dollar Shave Club ad banners on random websites after it was released. But the fact is they did everything right, but also needed to advertise.
The other example I want to use is actually a personal experience that happened recently. If you didn’t see this video below. This is Andrew Suggs. A musician from Atlanta that wanted to do a creative thing and express his patriotism by setting up his amplifier and playing the Star Spangled Banner at the Grand Canyon. He released the video the morning of July 4th, and once the local news picked up the story by mid day, the video started going viral all over Facebook (over 7 million views). This was especially cool to see because Andrew was a founding member of Atlanta Idea Studio and worked with us for a few years as a content writer and PA.
The best thing about this is it’s just authentic. It wasn’t some famous rock guitarist going to the Grand Canyon to get some publicity. No. It was just a regular guy expressing his passion for music and his country and doing something no one had done - not at least at the Grand Canyon.
My feeling is things that organically go viral are authentic. Stories of real people doing real things in the world. If it’s not going to happen organically, then you’re going to have to pay to promote it. We’re so saturated in content from brands that it’s even harder nowadays to make an expensive commercial go viral organically. So, get viral out of your head and think more about who you are selling to. Viral is for the broad audience looking for a laugh, but success lies in the specific audience looking to buy what you’re selling.