OK…. so here’s the deal: Viral videos are NOT for everyone and here’s why.

Every business would love to see their video go viral. This is the dream of every marketer, video producer or business owner – to get as many people watching in a short space of time, with little or no cost. This is the epitome of success.

Or is it?

You may ask yourself, “Is having 6 or 7 million viewers within a week beneficial to my business?” You’ll definitely get varied responses to this question.  But the truth of the matter is, what may be good for social events may not be the best for business.

YES. Marketing is a numbers game. And yes, it is science-driven by data (despite what some circles might think).  But quality versus quantity matters more than anything; it’s not all about quantity but the quality of the viewers matter. Viral video may work pretty well in some situations but in other situations, you’ll find out, it can be a dream killer.

Still not convinced? OK… here are 5 reasons why you should go viral …. If you dare!

Go viral if you want your videos to disappear as fast as they appeared.

Viral videos hit very fast.  People share far and wide.  People talk about it, make fun and all manner of things in relation to the video. Within a short space of time people forget all about it, another viral video appears, to be replace by another event that comes along, and your video is relegated to the periphery.  Within a week, nobody remembers anything about it. The reception may have been huge but the impact was very little.

An effective video should not only attract. It should engage viewers and inspire them take action, as well as remember what they saw for a long time. If you want to be a one-hit wonder, aim at your video going viral. At least you will have entertained the masses, but with nothing to write home about it.

Go viral if you want to give a cheap thrill.

According to Eric Hinson, the founder of Explainify LLC, to make a video go viral, you need to create some shock value that will evoke an emotional response in people to want to share it with others. This may result in a cheap thrill and some interesting conversation next to the water cooler but it then trickles through the cracks and is forgotten.

So what are the chances that your viral video will stand the test of time? And will it get you any business?

What you really need to be focusing on is actual value.  It is what makes people react;  there are no strong emotions about it.  It’s about simple reason. It helps people see reality without being blurred by fantasies. A video will be long remembered when it has resonated or connected with viewers’ needs and provided a solution to a problem. Get this right, make it consistent, and you achieve more by attracting quality prospects who are looking for solutions your business offers.

For Volvo Trucks, Jean Claude Van Damme achieved this on this video.

Go viral if you want to offend.

Take shock value one step further if you want to offend people, which can spell doom if they were your targets.  Remember, bad news travels fast and can go out of control.

Be mindful of the fact that not everyone will like viral videos.  Remember, we live in a big world of diverse values.  You may think your video may appeal to many if not all, only to end up offending some of the viewers or an activist group, which may result in getting bad press.

Don’t forget that offended viewers may very well be the people your business is targeting. You don’t want to bite the hand that feeds you. So unless you have a profound understanding of your audience and know what doesn’t rub them the wrong way, keep off viral videos that may offend. For an example of what people might find offensive watch this!

Go viral if you’re looking for Tom, Dick, and Harry.

When you create a targeted video that has something useful to offer, rest assured it may not reach millions but it will definitely appeal to the right person, and that is the bottom line in video marketing. Do not aim to reach the masses.  Instead target the few that will make the most difference to you and your business. That of course means you need to know your audience.

Here are two examples of how the Dollar Shave Club and FiberFix each ran viral video campaigns in a very appealing way that resonated for very specific target audiences.

Go viral if you have the energy and money in making it work.

It has been said that when you aim at reaching everyone, you end up getting nobody in return.  Making people smile or laugh especially in a diverse audience requires guts, lots of planning for contingencies, legal costs even, and lots of effort; not to mention the cost that is expended into coming up with content.  A lot of resources are used and in most cases your ROI may be limited, especially since you are targeting everyone. But here is an example of the successful brand video Turkish Airlines ran featuring Lionel Messi and Kobe Bryant that went viral having cost millions to pull off.

Viral videos may be fun and entertaining but may end up having the undesired effects. The energy and money used in their making may not be worth it after all.  Instead, aim at making a genuinely useful video that gets in front of your audience and brings it so much value that has viewers begging to come back for more of your videos.

  1. Spend your hard earned cash in the name of entertaining and educating your audience at the same time.
  2. Make a series of ‘How-to” videos.
  3. Draw your audience closer to your business by giving it lots of free stuff without any obligation.
  4. Make testimonial videos.  Show viewers what your established customers have to say about you; build trust with your target market, and you will be remembered.

Focus on the long game and leave viral campaigns to those who have the budget and are interested in broadcasting to the general public for getting brand recognition.  For most marketers and business owners, I suggest focus on quality and not quantity – this should be your guiding motto.

Now, as a parting bonus, and for those who are curious, here is my playlist of top viral videos that were successful on YouTube for your pleasure and amusement. Make sure to share! After all, that’s what viral videos are all about!

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