One of our clients who owns a successful business called me one day to tell me that one of his videos had gone viral. I can remember the excitement in his voice as we spoke on the phone.
He was thrilled that one of his videos finally caught traction and achieved “virality”. The short 25-second video which was a comedic piece had gained over 1,000 organic shares within a day or so of posting.
But can you guess what impact this had on his business?
In fact, most of the attention and comments were coming from a country that he didn’t even serve.
Of course, this was a one-off case. Maybe you sell internationally and you would love to get the extra attention no matter the region.
But there is a better approach.
Should you aim for viral?
As a video focused company, it’s not uncommon for clients to come to us with the hope of making a video go viral. And we completely understand. In this noisy internet world, it’s more important than ever to do things that will make your brand stand out and help gain awareness.
However, in many cases, viral is not the right goal. First, let’s look at some numbers.
There are over 4 million hours of video uploaded to YouTube every single day. And that’s just YouTube! Not to mention the millions of videos be posted to Facebook each day. Of those videos, only a fraction of a percent actually go viral. And those videos typically have nothing to do with a brand. They are cat videos, fail videos, memes, ect.
Aside from the fact that virality is usually a matter of luck, synchronicity, and magic fairy dust, going viral typically doesn’t have much impact on your business. Or at least not enough to justify the number of hours and attempts it would take to actually have a video go viral.
What should you focus on instead?
Imagine you were presented with two options.
Outcome 1 is that your video will go “viral” among 1 million people who may or may not be likely to purchase your product or service. They may not even be close to your target market or in a country where they can buy.
Outcome 2 is that your video goes “viral” among 1,000 people who are much more likely to purchase your offering and are qualified to buy.
I want to be clear. It’s not about thinking smaller and lowering your goal. It’s about specificity and making sure that your video objective is mapped to your business objectives.
Choose a more targeted approach.
While outcome 1 might feel better because it reached 1 million people, that’s just a vanity win. Over the short term, outcome 2 will get you more immediate purchases. Over the long term, a good sized group of those 1000 people will become fans and advocates of your brand spreading awareness even further.
It’s important to ensure that every video for your business is tied to a tangible goal. Whether it’s awareness, recruiting, or direct sales.
Rather than focusing on going viral, get more specific on a small group to go “viral” among that will become customers and loyal evangelists. This is why it’s so important to understand your audience.
3 Tips for how to create more shareable content
It is still a beneficial exercise to look at what it is that makes a video viral. Although there are many factors that go into a video achieving virality, here are 3 critical elements that you can apply to your content creation strategy:
The first key trait of creating shareable content is relevance. Is the content relevant to the target audience? So how do we go about creating relevance? Well, you can check out websites like Google Trends to do a quick search and see what topics might be trending in your industry that are getting more traction and ultimately going to be more relevant to the audience.
But it doesn’t always have to tie to this big trending topic or news article, sometimes it’s as simple asking, what common pinpoints or challenges or experiences will the members of my target audience share and relate with?
2. Emotional Response
The second key characteristic of shareable content is that it elicits an emotional response, whether it’s anger sadness, laughter, nostalgia. It’s these emotional responses that inspires your audience to share this content with their community.
The third and final thing to consider is the distribution plan. Believe it or not most viral ads or viral pieces of content still have an initial push to get them out there. Whether it’s paid advertising or media outlets, so what you want to think about is what key platforms or avenues or key people can you reach out to and give your content an initial push.
You never want to put a piece of content up and then just hope that people find it.
Consider these elements when creating any content for your brand, not just video.
In conclusion, when setting out to create a video or marketing campaign, choose the goal that is most going to help your business. Then use that as your north star to guide the creative and strategic decision making. If you want to go viral to build awareness, go a level deeper and ask yourself what group of potential true fans you want to go “viral” among.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments and feel free to share with a friend.