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Going Viral: The Future In Marketing?

Whether it’s the Harlem Shake or Gangnam style, most of us have watched a viral video in the past week or so – but what exactly does it mean to “go viral”? How can we harness the power of social media to promote ourselves? Should we be saying goodbye to the traditional methods of marketing our businesses and promoting ourselves?

going viral

Going viral

A video goes viral when it is shared online on a massive scale through email or social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. Viral videos often contain shocking or humorous content, such as accidents or stunts like a man jumping into a frozen pool, or entertaining comedy dance or musical sketches like “The Evolution of Dance” and “Chocolate Rain”. Viral videos can also be produced for political purposes, like “We’ll Marry Your Girlfriends” – a viral video made in a comedic effort to persuade American voters to legalize gay marriage.

By far the most successful viral video to date is “Kony 2012” – a political campaign to arrest African cult and militia leader Joseph Kony. The video had over 34 million views on the first day of its upload in March 2012 and it had been viewed more than 94 million times as of November 2012.

How can going viral help you?

It seems to be every marketing team’s mission to make a video good enough to catch on like wildfire. Why it is so important? It’s simple. Getting a video to go viral will help you get more exposure for your company or your product. If you have a website or blog, you will receive more traffic. If you have other videos on your channel, you will get more views. Do you write a blog that nobody is reading? You’ll get more followers and more feedback from people.

Going viral is a way to get a lot of attention without spending a lot on a full-scale marketing campaign and advertising. All that is needed to grab attention is good, relevant content and your logo or message at the beginning or end of the video directing people to where you want them to go. The harder part is figuring out how to make your video go viral.

Do new trends spell death for tradition?

Not necessarily! Every company has its unique target audience, customer base and locations to advertise and market products. For example, a family-run pizza shop in White Plains, New York would gain very little from making a video go viral. Traditional methods of marketing and advertising like billboards, bus-stop ad placement and banner printing are still very useful and unlikely to die off. Using a banner to advertise a store opening or a sale is still common practice everywhere! No viral video needed.

Want to try going viral?

Keep it short and simple! Scan the newspaper for relevant trending topics, or easier, check Twitter’s trending hashtags – users will be able to find a link to the video when they type in the keyword. Make sure you include funny or interesting material worth sharing, and check that it hasn’t been overdone. Keep it family friendly so it can be shared faster and with all age groups.

Are you going to try going viral?

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Images:  “Business And Marketing Concept Present By Green Viral Marketing Arrow Around The Green World Isolated on White Background

Simon is the owner of Simon's Online Marketing an online marketing agency focusing on clients in difficult niches and the Eureka Network.

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  • EmilySuperdream

    Really interesting article, thank you! It’s always good to think about new approaches in marketing.

  • I get the idea of more exposure, more chance of success, but too many people forget about the cores that need to be in place for this to work.

    For instance, if I had a video go viral right now, I wouldn’t be able to grab as much of the traffic that landed on my site due to the fact that my messaging isn’t captivating much. I only have about a 3-4% signup rate on my blog (working on upping that over the next few days). So even several hundred thousand views wouldn’t equate to as much as it could.

    The key here is understand that we need to have the structure to be able to support something like that. And also, there’s the question of quality.

    I remember a story of a girl that appeared on a talk show and got over 50,000 followers on twitter within a few days. The thing is, she had nothing to offer those people and really not even anything important or helpful to say. It was completely useless for her and the people that followed.

    Going viral isn’t always as great at it sounds up front. I get the gist of the article, but it’s important to remember the keys that have to be in place for it to have the most long term affect it can.

  • Christina Giliberti

    It’s interesting – The ‘#danceponydance’ advert became an overnight viral success and the reason (I believe) is due to the idea that it tapped into the fact that what people are interested in is ‘silliness’. Clever that it was actually developed on behalf of ‘3’ ( They used the multi-marketing approach to add a social layer (share your own pony mixer mashup) and branded channels for the campaign. How this contributes to RoI has yet to be seen, but the use of viral/social has given them huge attention, PR, access to a wider audience and a pat on the back for being innovative. It will most likely win a few awards to boot.
    I feel that viral has to be well-thought out to make this kind of impact in a social, yet professional sense. You also must monitor all expressions, CTAs and subsequent conversions to capture the full picture. As Jared as mentioned – viral doesn’t guarantee success……but it does have a strong place in the marketing mix.

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