Is there value in viral?

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Everyone wants to create viral content – but how achievable it is… and does it come with some cons as well?

If you think there are a lot of viral videos out there these days, just consider that each minute 300 hours of YouTube video is uploaded. That’s almost a fortnight worth of content, every single minute. No doubt a large portion of these uploaders would love for their videos to go viral.

If there were an easy formula for making a video stand out from the haystack, every person and company would be on it. But truth be told, more strive for viral… than achieve it.

The question should be asked: when it comes to your videos, is there virtue in viral?

Going down the “pursuit of viral” path means you aren’t deploying resources towards videos that are potentially more sensible and effective. It requires sacrifice, such as cutting down on messages to make room for humour or emotional appeal. One whiff of awkward product placement or an overzealous sales pitch is often enough to defeat a video’s share-worthiness.

It’s also a guessing game. Some of the new viral videos out there… aren’t even technically “new”.

Daniel Cardenas from Sierra Media writes: “Typically, some internet tastemaker (usually a comedian), plucks an awesomely absurd video out of obscurity and…BOOM. Viral. A video can languish on the web for months, years even, before a random chain of events gets it in the hands of the right person with the right following.”

It makes you wonder how many videos there are, already sitting on YouTube, which will only go viral once 5 or 10 years passes!

For marketers, this means you can create a video you think has all the elements of a shareable, viral video – and it may indeed have all those elements – but it still may not take off. So, perhaps you’re better off investing in content that is safer and more targeted in its purpose.

The Ad Group writes: “We advocate starting your web video process by concentrating on the needs of your target demographic. If you do a great job servicing this group by serving their interests in a surprising, new, and memorable way, they will share your work. More specifically, they’ll share your work with like-minded customers who are much more likely to patronise your business.”

Another thing to bear in mind is the fact that viral videos don’t take long before they’re potentially distorted, ridiculed, satirised, auto-tuned and/or remixed by the masses. There’s a question as to whether this publicity is ideal, when you’re not in control of your message.

“Are you willing to put your brand into the hands of an irreverent public and let them build you up by tearing you down?” writes Cardenas, “Or would you rather make a video that tells your story, educates your customers, and encourages an action you control?”

Finally, consider whether general “reach” is truly your objective. Is it worth getting hundreds of thousands, even millions, of people seeing your video – when they’re not in the right geographical region for them to purchase your product or use your service? Or perhaps they’ll enjoy the video but aren’t the right age or demographic to actually benefit from what you’re selling.

Viral can indeed deliver value – but trying to seek out this elusive status can be ambitious and risky.

Cardenas agrees: “Popular is always good. Engaging is probably better. Functional is a hugely underrated descriptive. But that might be exactly what you need – a video that works.”

Whether you’re set on going viral or wish to create a more functional video, get in touch us at Jumbla. We’ll work with you to bring your vision to life!

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