Viral videos are all the rage in social media and can stand to make a big impact for brands. With the ever-increasing popularity of social media, advertisers are diverging from broadcast and print media to digital and mobile media. Platforms like YouTube, Instagram, Vine, and Snapchat provide marketers the platform to make video an impactful method of advertising.
Many brands have seen huge success with viral videos. But there is no set of rules that guarantee your video will go viral. The basic building block for a successful video, though, is to generate content that someone finds worthy of sharing with his or her friends. Sounds like a simple goal, but the path to obtaining the goal is nuanced, and the video has to be genuine. Brands currently producing videos focus on telling a story that the viewers find interesting while portraying the core values of the brand.
Videos generated for social media provide marketers the opportunity to be more experimental, creative, and risky. “Different” or innovative is often rewarded on social media platforms, and people like to see something they have never seen before. Brands choose different avenues to capture the attention of their audiences, whether through music, quirky humor, heartfelt sob stories, or something soft, cute, and cuddly (always a crowd pleaser). The key is to evoke some sort of emotion in the viewer, which will make the video memorable.
The most successful branded videos are often light on branding and heavy on content. In viral branded videos, the focus is on the story, not the brand. Many videos have the brand appear at the very end of the video, if at all (or, very covertly, such as a logo on a person’s shirt). The purpose of the video is not to shove your brand down their throat; it is to attract a viewer’s attention enough to keep them interested until the end of the video. If the viewer watched the video all the way to the end, and they are surprised to find out the content was generated by a company, they are left with a positive association with the brand.
Launching the video
There are many options for launching your soon-to-be viral video (or so you hope!). If your video is going to be based around an event (like Red Bull’s 2012 supersonic freefall) it is best to hype up the event ahead of time to get as many viewers as possible for the big launch. In contrast, companies may choose to release an online video without any brand affiliation (it would just magically appear in the Internet universe). It is important, though, that brands quickly claim responsibility for the video if it does go viral. Claiming responsibility in a timely manner ensures that your brand gets the most reach out of the video, but it will also keep your company from looking sneaky. If people feel a company has duped them into falling in love with a video that is fictional or created for advertising purposes, there may be backlash.
Whether the video you launch is a flop or a viral hit, the risk can really be worth it. If marketers put the effort into creating content that is compelling, effective, and engaging, the video has a fighting change to make a difference for the brand. One thing is certain: video storytelling isn’t going anywhere, so best to take advantage of the trend starting now.