Why you can’t make a viral video

“Where my kids at?” I love this video from Toyota. Genius, right?

Most marketing departments have thought it. Maybe even said it:  “Let’s make a viral video.”   But the hard truth is, there’s no such thing as Viral Marketing. That’s because you cannot force other people to share your wonderful message.

Don’t get me wrong, you can create a video with viral qualities like these:

  • A good story that is creative, funny or surprising.
  • An emotional thought that gives us common ground.
  • Something timely that relates to a current event or the culture today.
  • A brand that invites you to own or manipulate the story.

Viral marketing is not a strategy; it is pure dumb luck. It starts when one person passes content like video, photos or links to other people, who in turn share it with their network and so on.  It happens every day around the world through email, text messaging, tweets, Facebook and other networks like StumbleUpon and Digg.

Viral marketing is of your control. That’s a frightening thought for many companies! But let’s say that you produce a hilarious video that appears to be unplanned and looks very amateurish like some of the most popular viral videos. And let’s say millions of people see it thanks to your Search Engine Optimization strategy and a terrific promotion budget. Is it popular?  Yes, but it’s still not viral.

So don’t be tempted to tell people you’re about to launch a viral marketing campaign.

If your video does go viral, it’s because people you don’t even know are delighted or shocked enough to send it to their friends. That is your reward for putting the best content told in the most creative way out there. It’s not viral until it is.

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  1. Tweets that mention Why you can’t make a viral video | SPREEMAN COMMUNICATIONS -- Topsy.com - October 20, 2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Sarah Schneider, Amy Spreeman. Amy Spreeman said: Is "viral marketing" a myth? http://t.co/RYe0rjW […]

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