Why not? It’s cheap. Easy. You can put it on YouTube and not have to pay for any media. Wishful thinking. Guess what? We don’t determine what becomes viral. The consumer does.
Creators, marketers, even YouTube itself are often surprised at what goes viral and what doesn’t. There’s no real formula or blueprint, and certainly no guarantee. Nevertheless, there are three things you can do to increase your chances. One of the teams at Mullen recently applied two of them to our Boston Bruins videos, which managed to generate 300,000 views on the first morning they hit the web, and over a million views during the next week of playoffs. Here they are.
1. Make it as funny and entertaining as possible.
Why? There are two fundamental reasons. For starters, in the opt-in world of YouTube, Vimeo or other similar sites, no one watches anything they don’t want to watch. Furthermore, no one’s going to pass something on unless they think it’s so good that it will earn them credit from friends and family for being the one who sent it. Given that the next interesting video is but a click away, no one has any patience. So capture their attention and capture it fast. Being outrageous, unexpected, provocative or hysterical are always good places to start.
2. Have a distribution plan.
If you think viral happens by itself, think again. The best efforts – from Elf Yourself to Cadbury’s gorilla – had smart, well thought out plans for how to seed the idea. In the case of the Boston Bruins film it started by finding people with lots of followers to post the spots on YouTube, Break.com and eBaum’s World. We targeted influencers — bloggers, Twitterati and online media – who we could generate lots of attention. Deadspin.com, the reigning king of sports blogs, Barstoolsports.com, and Hubhockey.com all jumped on the opportunity to turn their readers onto the campaign. The next thing we knew, word was out and spreading like wildfire.
3. Build in a meme
OK, admittedly, the team neglected to do this. But we should have. A meme is simply a way by which the consumer can add to, customize, or incorporate him or herself into a modified version of the original concept and pass it on. No matter how successful your viral video might be, if you leave room for the consumer to co-create with you, it becomes even more effective. We should have made it possible for fans to do their own victory dance and combine it with the bear doing it’s shuffle. No doubt that would have generated plenty of participation. Oh well, maybe we’ll add that next time.
What’s the best example of viral video you’ve seen recently? Did it take advantage of all three of these tactics?