Matt's recent blog post 'I Have a Meme'? made me do some thinking. How really DO things become viral and how the heck can our clients get in on the secret? So with Matt's four steps in mind, I started looking back at some of my favorite viral videos, and asking around for new ones that I hadn't been infected with yet to do some more research.
Some of my favorites are straight accidentals caught on a video camera from the 80's, and others are genius branded entertainment ' and I know what you're thinking; 'BRANDED entertainment'? that becomes viral? Yes! It's possible! Here are a few favorites:
- Liquid Mountaineering (I'm thinking 2012 Olympic games)
- Signs (Hopeless romantic?)
- The Happiness Machine (I want one next to my desk)
Accidental or pre-meditated, what is it about the best viral videos that makes you want to watch it over and over again and show your friends how cool you are for finding it? Often, brands need to have a bit more strategy to ensure success.
Here are some pointers for brands on getting infected
First of all, you can't MAKE anything go viral. I repeat, you cannot. As much as you want to conjure it up in your head, and dream about it at night ' you can't force your video to be the next 'Evolution of Dance'?. But, you can help it get there.
It's not about being the most offensive, the loudest, or the most absurd ' it's simply about being noticeable, memorable, and actionable. Great ideas and great virals offer an invite to consumers to connect with them, relate to them, solve their problems, or let them express themselves. Therefore, you need to understand and recognize the audience that will best adopt your viral.
One strategy is to seed the viral only to a small community to begin with. Let a certain community adopt the idea and run with it on their own. Don't try to cover all of the cyber world with your viral, video or otherwise, or else it doesn't become special and isn't 'rare enough'? to share and spread as viruses do. Figure out from the target audience what they want: What do they value? What's unique to them? What would stop them from what they're doing at that moment? Would they share things with friends? Would they be cooler for doing so? If you seed correctly, to a smaller, more defined group, then those members will take hold of the rest in spreading the word.
Once the initial community starts to share, let it run its course - much like our dear friend the flu. Don't try to mess it up with, or overload it with, brand identification (or medication). Wait until the buzz has grown to tag your brand's mark on top of the original viral's identity, without being too commercial. And in doing so ' reach out to the community that got the party started and congratulate them for sharing. Figure out how they shared and amplify the effect.
The sole goal of any virus is to reproduce. But it's not just about how many views you get - it's about how strong the virus actually is: How many times it got embedded. How many times it was commented on, remixed, or mentioned. Look at how it got to be where it's at and what people are saying about it. And don't worry about the negative feedback ' every viral comes with a headache or sore throat, but that can be overcome with a little TLC and popsicles.