The Reality of Viral Videos.

The importance of viral videos for marketing is outstanding. We have all been caught up watching videos like that; it has gone from the internet and taken over more traditional media such as television. But viral videos will always be linked to the web. To be qualified as viral the viral status should remain public. That is the big difference between online videos and TV or films. Unless the ratings are revealed, we, as consumers are not aware of the popularity of the shows or films. On the other hand, videos online can easily display how viral they are. Have a look at the already famous YouTube views/likes counters; it is there for all to see.

Now, as a new concept, the definition of a viral video and its characteristics are not well established. Most of the blogs and written articles about it rate a video viral when it reaches around 1 million views in less than 24 hours. Some others will only be measured as viral if it reaches 5 million views in 2 weeks. This wide difference on what makes a video viral can be linked with the real range and overall value for creators and companies. A video can rank 5 million views, but only get 20% of those view from the intended target audience.

But the target audience is not the only issue faced by “viral video creators”.
The biggest problem is the actual content. Predict on whether or not a video will become popular is almost impossible. Several blogs and articles try to give a magical recipe of ingredients to make a video viral, but the reality of it all is that getting viral on the internet is more about luck than anything else.

Casey Neystat has produced several viral videos with relatively small cost (Here are some examples) Indeed; they are interesting and compelling; furthermore, they are branded as the creation of one of the biggest names in Youtube at the moment. But even with that, viral video production is not an exact science. In part, this is due to the significant role of the community.

The best example of the community working is the case of the mother with the Chewbacca mask. She became a viral hit out of nowhere. The video was taken with her phone as she giggles and laughs while wearing the mask of the beloved Star Wars character. The video itself is pretty dull, but it was a combination of factors that created the right environment to get a viral video. When the video came out, Star Wars was all over the internet again. The new movie had been released, and another one was announced. The community was deep into that trend. But more importantly, somehow, in the clusterfuck and war zone that the internet is, everyone seemed to like this woman. That was all. Everyone started to share, and she became a celebrity in less than a week.

How is that marketing and advertising executives with years of experiences did not think of something similar to promote Star Wars and its merchandise? Well, it is pretty simple. No one can predict or think about that. It is random. That is one of the main things about viral videos.

Nowadays, everybody knows how unlikely is to produce a viral video. Indeed, some topics become more trendy than others. Celebrities, Youtubers, scandals, fails and cats seem to be a good way to reach wider popularity. Many have tried, and the community status and money related with viral videos make it very appealing, not only to brands but also individuals.

The constant stream of social media platforms in our lives has led us to reach for likes and retweets more than ever. Being popular on the internet is not only a business but instead part of our lives. Becoming an Internet sensation must feel awesome. Thus, many have tried to get into blogging or creating content. Unfortunately, due to the amount of content online, it is unlikely to become viral. Regarding videos, it is important to understand that thousands of videos are uploaded every second to YouTube.

Accordingly, most companies and brands have adjusted their efforts of production to follow a cheaper model and continue aiming for what has been proven to be an effective way to make accessible content, that is, regular content. Brands and companies aim at viral content, but usually, have a bank of content specifically dedicated to fulfilling the feeds of clients and audiences. Let’s take for example GoPro. It’s Youtube channels had several viral videos. Being an action camera manufacturer and distributor gave GoPro the upper hand at producing quality exciting videos. But despite it all, GoPro has opted for more regular content instead of more “compelling videos with higher production costs and longer developing time. Most of the videos on the channel are produced via GoPro but takes personal experiences as a way to consistently upload videos. Viral videos do not have to be expensive, that is the charm behind them, especially during these years when it’s harder to make a video viral.

The other aspect is the reality of video promotion on the internet. Despite the romantic view of “anyone can become famous on the internet”, the reality is different. Unless you invest on your videos, it will be pretty unlikely to be seen. Brands, companies, and Youtubers spend hundred, or even million of dollars on advertising. PPC has reduced the amount of money spend on promotion, but the cost is still there. Creating a video is half of the tasks. The second, and sometimes, more important part, is to know how to promote it. SEO, PPC, analytics and other aspects are of great importance for everyone in the video production industry. Unless you know how to promote effectively, adapt, and take advantage of the online promotions tools. Your video will be in a pool of other 2 million videos with the same aim. Thus, spending money is always important. Google AdWords has become the best tool to promote content online. Youtube can directly link videos with Google Adwords and create banners to promote a channel or a video. Once you learn to use those tools, you are on your way to make your content visible. That is the first stage but still, is a long way from viral production and distribution.

The last part is actual content. We have seen examples of how random is the “selection” of viral videos. The only thing you can do is to bet on the next best choice; that is quality content. A video produced properly with a DSLR camera will have much better chances to succeed than a video shoot exclusively on an old camcorder. A video with outstanding audio will provide lower bounce rates than an over modulated output.

See where I am going? The romantic story of video production with zero cost is far from the truth. The reality is different. Spending money on equipment and promotion will raise your chances of becoming viral. The other part is out of your hands. Only the community will dictate the relevance of the content your produce.