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Why Viral Isn’t Always Virtuous for Video Marketing

The first topic that comes to mind for most marketers considering video marketing is videos that “go viral” — many a marketer now dreams of creating videos that tally zillions of hits and draw millions of buyers to their company’s door, resulting in profits and accolades. Though creating this type of video is an admirable goal, first consider these important issues:    

  • Few business videos go viral. More than 48 hours’ worth of video is uploaded to the YouTube site every minute, and fewer than 30 percent of these videos garner more than 99 percent of the traffic. Only about 1 million videos have more than 1 million viewers, and fewer than 50 videos have more than 100 million hits.

    Considering that business videos represent a small percentage of uploads — and that the most viral videos usually involve sex, scandal, or severe shock value — it stands to reason that the truly viral business videos are few and far between.

  • Broad-based businesses benefit from viral video. If your business is local or has a small demographic, it will have difficulty justifying the cost and effort required to make a video purposely go viral.

    To a neighborhood store or restaurant, a million views may sound beneficial, but translating that number into physical dollars may not be as effective as waging a direct-mail campaign within your own neighborhood.

    Likewise, if you’re a financial advisor working only with exclusive clients who make more than $1 million annually, a viral video is unlikely to reach your most profitable clientele. In fact, you may receive calls and e-mail from people who aren’t your customers — which wastes your time.

  • No one can make videos go viral every time. As with any other marketing approach, creating successful viral videos requires knowledge, creativity, and experimentation. Ad agencies charge millions to produce videos, and they distribute them in ways that they hope will go viral. Most fall short and see greater exposure by way of conventional channels, such as TV.

    Without a large following, lots of money, and a killer concept, getting a video to go viral requires a perfect storm of luck and timing. When it does, it’s often too late to capitalize by attaching a marketing idea.

If you’re committed to the holy grail of video marketers that is viral video, you need to first understand how it works and the factors at play.

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