Viral Video: The Last Big Thing
It surprises me how many brands are still pinning their hopes lottery-ticket-style on viral video. While I agree with my Twit-pal @fondalo that video remains a viable communication format – especially when injected with humor – it is not the next great brand savior. The biggest current viral video hit garnering 39 million views and growing is Sittin On Tha Toilet – to the benefit of zero brands.
Look, I’m not anti-video…but I’m also not pro-jumping-on-the-next-big-thing particularly when it was the last big thing. To those brands who are looking to be edgy and reap big awareness ROI…that ship may have sailed. Even the edgy stuff isn’t making as much of an impact anymore, because audiences are used to it (or even numb to it). They may give it a cursory look and just move on, vs. ensuring that all of their friends watch it. Remember the Pamela & Tommy Lee sex video? EVERYBODY was watching it in 1998. Remember the McDreamy / Rebecca Gayheart sex video in 2009? Relatively speaking, it barely blipped on the American net-surfing pulse rate.
What brands can do (and should do, IMHO) is evaluate whether or not a video component makes sense for their overall marketing campaign. If the answer to that question is yes…then look into creating good content, not just something edgy that a contestant on The Apprentice might have dreamed up with little regard to the long-term brand reputation.
You really can’t create viral – you can create good, authentic content and promote it so that targeted audiences will share it. If it goes viral, that’s a bonus but not a goal. And if you’re looking for the next big thing, don’t use the past as your roadmap.