The ‘REAL’ secret to viral video marketing

The Guardian’s Jessica Twentyman recently wrote an interesting piece entitled “The secret to viral video marketing” reviewing 2013′s successes in an effort to key in on how campaigns “go viral.”  The piece illustrates well how much we still have to learn in regards to optimizing for viral success. While some important points are made, a major insight is largely glossed over in the piece and in the industry in my estimation.

Twentyman, through interviews with executives, made a some great points that warrant noting.  First, content is still king! Social media sharing is driven by the value placed on the content by network.  Consumers use the content to satisfy certain sharing motivations.  If the content has no value, then there is no reason for the consumer to share it.

Secondly, the article notes the importance of setting goals that are sensible for the scale and scope of your brand.  Debate has persisted as to what number of views constitutes “going viral.”  Visible Measures, for example, has defined a video as viral after 1 million views.  This mindset plays to national brands with large budgets and assets to the exclusion of small and regional brands.  Your definition of “viral success” should be tempered by what makes sense for your particular brand.  For a local brand, 100,000 views by people who might actually become a customer is equivalent to millions of hits for a national brand.

The articles glosses over a vital point that I have seen in my own academic research in noting in passing that brand loyal consumers are more likely to share content.  The consumer-brand relationship can have a major impact on viral processes.  Recall again that people share content to which they ascribe value. The consumer’s relationship with the brand determines how much they trust the brand and the content that the brand produces.  The brand becomes a conduit for self-expression and relational maintenance.

Further, the brand relationship intertwines with interpersonal relationships within social networks such that the two compliment one another in driving viral sharing behavior.  For example, if a close friend shares an ad, then chances are you will watch on their recommendation regardless of your relationship or lack thereof with the brand.  However, if a random acquaintance shares the ad, then the brand relationship plays an important role in whether or not you watch and vice versa.

We still have a long way to go in understanding how to optimize campaigns for viral success.  The industry largely still ignores or underestimates the power of the brand and interpersonal relationship dynamic.  My research continues to examine this dynamic.  To be continued…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s