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The Truth About Viral Videos That Nobody's Talking About

Posted by Jake Larsen on September 15th, 2013 at 9:00 am

As a Video Strategist I’ll ask businesses what they’re planning to do for marketing.  They respond, we’re going to make a viral video. To which I reply, interesting Strategy, I hope it works out for you. (Shake my head no, it won’t)

Planning for a Video to go Viral in your marketing is like planning on winning the lottery for your business to make money. It’s highly unlikely and it’s the worst marketing strategy you could have.

I interviewed Austin Craig, the spokesman behind a very successful YouTube video campaign for Orabrush, where we spoke about the big misconception people have about Viral Videos.

YouTube Preview Image

So how do you make a Viral Video? Just a few easy steps:
unicorn unicycle
1. Win the lottery
2. Use your winnings to buy a unicorn
3. Train your unicorn to ride a unicycle
4. Enjoy your life as a YouTube hero

Ok so basically what I’m getting at is this; expecting to think you can make a viral video is ridiculous. Austin and I get asked this question all the time. Every time I hear this I just want to face palm myself. His response is a little more professional. He says “I don’t immediately condemn them because that’s not a very good business practice., but education needs to happen in a situation like that”.

What you’re running is a business. A viral video is like winning the lottery, and buying a lottery ticket is not a business strategy” -Austin Craig

Now that I’ve ruined your dreams of creating a viral video, let’s talk about what you can do instead that is 100 times more likely to help your business. Austin says what he would do if someone asked him to help them make a viral video is to instead, help them create a strategic sales video. Once they have found decent success in that, then he would be willing to try something a little more crazy so that the business would have a cushion to fall back on if and when their "viral video" only gets seen by 150 people.  Orabrush Website

Now you're gonna say "Wait, but doesn't Orabrush have a viral video? Isn't that how they started?". Kind of. Yeah they have a video with over 18 million views which I guess you could say is "viral". But that didn't just happen by itself. Orabrush has been promoting that video since the beginning to make sure that it would show up when people searched for relevant terms. On YouTube there are 100 hours of video uploaded every minute. That's a crap load of videos. How do you expect your video to get seen in all of that if you don't promote it?

So what should your video marketing strategy be?

You need to gain people's trust with a campaign of videos, like the Velcro Theory.

The Velcro Theory explains how to make a message or video stick.  On one side of the velcro you have hooks and the other you have loops, when the two come together it sticks.  The hooks represent Videos and the loops represent viewers.  If you only have one hook your message won’t stick very well.  For this reason you need to create a lot of videos to hook and stick with the viewers.

*  If you are looking for more tips and tricks on how to increase your YouTube views and following, you should check out this Free Video Marketing Course.

6 Responses to “The Truth About Viral Videos That Nobody's Talking About”

  1. This is something all brand marketers need to hear. Most of the experienced ones have given up on earning media through online video long ago, some are just now stumbling upon the false hopes of virality, the smart ones watch and understand this video.

  2. This article would mean a lot more before the news broke about Jimmy Kimmel's "Twerking Girl on Fire." That was planned and I think it mostly worked. Luck may have a lot to do with whether or not a video goes viral, but often you can trace things back a little and see some of the steps that got the video to viral-status. It is not quite as luck based as winning the lottery. There are definitely gatekeepers and key players. You can also look at things that are common among viral videos. Along with luck, there is an art and a science to making viral videos.

    • Jake says:

      Hey Dannon,

      You are right. The twerking girl was amazing and very well planned.
      If you can pull that off do it. My hat will go off to you.

      But there is a huge misconception with "Viral Videos".
      When a business sole marketing strategy is to hope a video goes viral their though process needs to be fixed.
      I'm trying to correct this misconception by giving people a more practical and effective strategy.
      I'm not saying viral videos don't work, I'm just saying that you need to have more options to your marketing.

      There are 100 hours of videos uploaded to YouTube every hour!
      That's 2,400 hours of Video every day and 16,800 hours a week.
      When a video does go viral we are talking about 1 in a million odds.
      So the analogy isn't that far off from winning the lottery.

      But just like counting cards in vegas there are ways you can increase your luck and chances of virality

  3. excellent article. Part of the reason we are rebranding to "contagious"

    People for the most part have a very flawed understanding of viral videos

  4. also as a correction, it's over 200,000 hours uploaded per day as of recently. The odds are even higher than 1 in 1,000,000

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