Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

YouTube marketing 6 – sharing and going viral 2

Posted in Web 2.0 marketing by Timothy Platt on October 30, 2012

This is my sixth installment in a best practices series for developing more effective YouTube and similar video clip marketing campaigns (see Web 2.0 Marketing, postings 64-68 for Parts 1-5.) And I began a more explicit discussion of developing video content that is more likely to be shared and to go viral as a part of this series in Part 5. I said towards the end of that posting that I would go into more detail as to how to do that, and that is the goal of this posting. But I start this by sharing an important cautionary observation:

• There is no single, simple, formulaic method that can be universally applied for making marketing messages of any sort go viral. What you can do is to increase your chances of that happening, and with a significantly higher rate for having your message shared by some customers and prospective customers, even if it does not go on to spread anything like wildfire.
• So the goal here is not to find and apply some universally applicable trick or method, but rather to understand what you seek to do and improve your chances of achieving at least some of that.

And I said that I would delve into the details here but I begin that with a more abstract principle: the power law or 80-20 rule. Actually, in this case this is more a 95-5 or even at times a 99-1 rule. Many, many videos are produced; few are viewed more than just a few times and outside of the limiting constraints of a very local audience directly connected to the online video’s producer. Of the few (5%, 1%?) that do spread for their visibility to a wider audience, only a small percentage of them go widely viral and to a general audience. The Pareto principle is a direct application of this empirically validated finding to economics and I add to business, and marketing reach and sales. So the details of making video clip or other content rich marketing go viral is all about developing with a goal of reaching that 5% or even that 1% status.

• Who are you most directly seeking to reach, who by demographics might be a likely customer candidate?
• What appeals to them?

Mine this from the social media sites they favor and turn to, and a good starting point can be found with Facebook walls. Who are you trying to reach as a first cut and what do they tell you they like, from their likes indications on their Facebook pages? What qualities stand out from that, that you might be able to tap into and incorporate in your own messages? That might mean directly using or it might mean parody – or it might mean making videos that seek to do both, adding in but with a twist.

One of the points that I raised in Part 5 of this series was that crafting a message with a goal of its going viral in your marketplace communities means starting with a goal of creating an entertaining message that others will want to share. Then you add in your branding and your marketing message, and with a goal of making them seamlessly blend together. This leads directly to a practical question.

• What specific branding do you want to include here? You need something that will fit in and work in a video context and that will appeal to the audience you seek to reach.

This might very well mean drafting a new logo variant, consistent with your already ongoing branding but formatted to fit and work here. And your message has to be carefully crafted too, with the marketing side of it crafted for word and image choice to blend into and work with the entertainment side of this message too.

• If in doubt, ask what works and what doesn’t and for the types of people you seek to reach. But do not over-rely on focus groups or similar marketing analysis while doing so.
• Test your next videos by seeing what did and did not work for your earlier online video efforts, and with an eye focused on what is being shared virally now, and with real reach to whom.

That, I add, means continually seeking to hit a moving target. What is in and what holds real potential for becoming a next “in” are always changing. Turn to frequently underutilized sources of potential insight. Enlist your own staff, and certainly members of your staff who would fit into your basic target market demographics to learn what they see as being “in.” If they go to sites like YouTube, what do they click to see? What types of videos do their families and friends share with them and what do they in turn share with others too? Throw a wide net in gaining insight into the marketplace and for what people are viewing now, that your marketing message might mesh with as offering similar appeal – if crafted to do that and with an appealing entertainment-oriented context message. And look for and actively seek out feedback and conversation and through all of your online channels. And fine tune from there as you craft your next messages.

Now let’s assume you produce a marketing video that catches the eye and interest of a social media-active community and that does spread virally to still wider communities of viewers. Now you have a lot of viewers, some of whom will only see this for the entertainment side of your overall message, but some of whom will pick up on the marketing message side of it too. Now what happens and what do you do? I am going to turn to that in my next series installment, simply noting here that going viral in your video marketing clips can only be seen as one step in a larger process – and that following through on this for a marketing outreach that has really spread will mean effectively connecting with new types of customer and potential customer who do not in fact fit your initial marketing demographics assumptions.

You can find this and related postings at Web 2.0 Marketing.

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