Tuesday, 8 January 2013




Viral 101

All too often I hear of agencies receiving a brief to produce a "Viral Video" or a "Viral Campaign" but this is a lot trickier than it sounds. Consumers and the general public decide what goes "viral" and what they think is worthy of sharing with their friends and social networks. So how does one create content whether it is in the form of a TV Advert or a Video that is guaranteed  to go "viral"?

This is no easy task but if one understands the principles of what goes "viral" and why it goes "viral" then you can start to compile a strategy to create viral content. Before we start here is a quick definition from Wikipedia

Wikipedia's definition of Viral Marketing 
Viral marketingviral advertising, or marketing buzz are buzzwords referring to marketing techniques that use pre-existing social networks to produce increases in brand awareness or to achieve other marketing objectives (such as product sales) through self-replicating viral processes, analogous to the spread of viruses or computer viruses (cf.internet memes and memetics). It can be delivered by word of mouth or enhanced by the network effects of the Internet.[1] Viral marketing may take the form of video clips, interactive Flash games, advergamesebooksbrandable softwareimages, or text messages.

The ultimate goal of marketers interested in creating successful viral marketing programs is to create viral messages that appeal to individuals with high social networking potential (SNP) and that have a high probability of being presented and spread by these individuals and their competitors in their communications with others in a short period of time.

So, just like a "virus" marketers hope that whatever content they create goes viral (spreading like a virus) amongst their relevant target audiences. To date, one of the best "viral campaigns" that I have come across is one by a company called SMART WATER but first let's have a look at a couple of examples of what goes "viral"? 

2.  Babies and children  (over 450 million views) 

SMART WATER researched the latest "viral videos" at that time and then they integrated all of this content into their video. When they released the video they seeded it through bloggers and other influential people in the Social Media space and they called the video "Jennifer Aniston's sex tape" so you can just imagine how quickly this went viral. 

If you watched the viral examples above you will see how well they integrated this into their campaign. Here is a link to the SMART WATER video

Locally I would have to say that Nando's is leading the way in terms of "Viral Marketing", everyone knows and remembers their ads. Their latest release being "Nando's Diversity" which caused a lot of havoc and controversy but this is exactly what they want because this is what gets shared and goes "viral". Santam also recently did some great "viral marketing" and quick tactical videos in response to the Nando's Ad


The benefits of "Viral Marketing" are the following: 
  • Cost-effective: These videos are quick to turn around and cheap to produce vs a full TV Ad
  • Longer shelf life: These ads will live on YouTube indefinitely 
  • Loyalty: You start to build a loyal following 
  • Recall: These ads break through the clutter and are remembered 
  • Word-of-mouth: These ads are usually controversial and are shared at a rapid rate 
So next time you receive a brief that says, "we want a viral video or viral ad" make sure your client firstly understands the principles behind what goes viral and secondly make sure you have done your homework and know what is going to be shared and ultimately go "viral". Always keep in mind: your objectives, the target audience that you are speaking to and of course, " The Celery Test". 
You can't guarantee it will go "viral". 

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