3 Keys to Successful Viral Video Marketing

19 May 2010 | written by Sam McRoberts for the web site marketing strategies section(s)

3 Keys to Successful Viral Video Marketing

For many years I’ve found myself fascinated with online videos. As an Internet marketer, that fascination has developed into something of a quest to create a replicable pattern for viral video creation. Creating a successful viral video is, after all, the Holy Grail of online marketing.

One of the greatest viral video success stories is that of the Will It Blend video series. Over the past 3 years, the Will It Blend videos have seen upwards of 250 Million views. One of their most recent videos hit 100,000 views in less than 2 days. Though some may say otherwise, their success was not accidental.

George Wright, the director of marketing for Blend-Tec, came up with the concept for these delightfully destructive videos. I was recently privileged to attend a lecture by Mr. Wright in regards to social media and viral marketing, and I came away from that event with some very useful words of wisdom.

The first thing that was emphasized was this: it was not an accident. The idea of blending strange things in blenders was nothing new to Blend-Tec, as it occurred with 2×4′s every time a change was made to the blender to test its durability. However, when George was put in charge of marketing, and learned about this common occurrence, he saw the potential for an online campaign and ran with it.

George knew what they had, and he knew that it would be a hit online. Of course, there was no way for him to know just how big of a success it would be, but it was planned, it had a purpose, and he knew who to get the video to.

With that in mind, these are the 3 main keys I took away from that lecture:

#1. The video must be worth watching, so plan it out.

You need to know your intended audience, what they find interesting, and where to find them. Once you know who you are trying to reach, you can develop a concept tailored to them.

While a concept occasionally works more than once, it is wise to come up with something unique. You certainly don’t want to be known as a copycat!

Having watched hundreds of viral videos, from Star Wars Kid to Will it Blend, I’ve found a common thread or two. First, every video I’ve seen appeals to a strong emotion, usually humor. Second, almost every video I’ve seen has some element of Taboo, a hint of the forbidden.

It would be considered impolite to make fun of larger individuals or the socially challenged, but Star Wars Kid does both, and viewers love it. Dropping your phone into a blender would not be considered appropriate behavior, either, but we all have that destructive inner child who would love to be able to do just that.

Touch the right emotional thread with a bit of taboo woven in, and you’re on your way.

#2 – Your video needs to have a purpose, such as branding or sales.

It could even be some strange purpose known only to you, so long as there IS a purpose. Effort without purpose is wasted.

In the case of Blend-Tec, that purpose was branding. They were relatively unknown in the home kitchen blender industry. Their main focus had been mostly commercial entities, such as Starbucks and Cold Stone Creamery. These videos put them in front of their potential customers in a way nothing else could have, and demonstrated how incredible their product was at the same time.

Determine in advance what you want to achieve with your video, and integrate it into the video concept right from the start. In terms of monetization, viral videos are best for branding, demonstrating a product, or both. While you can of course make money off of video ads, I know of no video that has gone viral with ads integrated right from the start, so that should be a distant second in terms of purpose.

Also of note, if you have a clear objective for your viral video, it will be that much easier to determine how effective a marketing tool your video turned out to be. If it is meant to generate leads, having a dedicated phone number or website just for this project can help you to better track the success of the video in terms of conversions and money.

#3 – Get your video in front of the right people.

When the announcement was made that there was going to be a Harry Potter theme park, the woman in charge of the marketing notified a small handful of bloggers at a secret midnight meeting. Within 24 hours, literally hundreds of millions of people had heard the news. Such is the power of putting your material into the hands of the right people.

If your video caters to a certain niche, make an effort to find the people in that niche who are the most active or influential in the online world. This is the ultimate key to a viral marketing success. You can create the most amazing video in the world, but it will never take off unless you get it to the right people.

In addition to carefully targeted individuals, you should send it to your current clients, family, friends, old college buddies, and anyone else you think might appreciate. Encourage all of your employees to do the same. The more people who see your video, the better.

Believe it or not, successful viral video marketing really is that simple. You’ll need a lot of creativity, but with careful planning, a clear goal, and the right people, your video will be well on its way to the viral video hall of fame.

If you are interested in moving forward with video marketing for your company, OrangeSoda offers cutting-edge video marketing services.

7 Comments

7 Comments

  • Kevin Phelps |   May 19th, 2010 at 10:36 am

    I agree that you need to get your video in front of the right audience. Whatever video you are making is sure to have its industry that it ties in with. Odds are those industries have forums as well that you could embed your video into. Just throwing it up onto YouTube just won’t do the trick.

  • AJ Wilcox |   May 20th, 2010 at 8:35 am

    It’s super easy to create content that is shocking and hilarious. Now, how to monetize that…

  • ACL Mike |   May 20th, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    Would this be a good way to get my latest video in front of people?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kt-qXvGIZS4

  • Dan Garfield |   May 24th, 2010 at 8:07 am

    Mike: Not really. Your video is a commercial. If you were buying ad time somewhere it might be a good commercial but as it stands it’s not a viral video.

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