by Carey Madsen.
Is Your Company Prepared to "Go Viral" with Video? How often does this phrase come up in your office these days? Whether it’s the hype about Susan Boyle and her nearly instantaneous Internet fame after a recent appearance on "Britain’s Got Talent," or the less than appetizing shenanigans of two very foolish ex-Dominoes employees, people and brands alike are 'going viral,' for better or for worse, all the time.
In the case of Susan Boyle, producers of the show and Google’s You Tube have all been trying to cash in on the Scot’s wild popularity, but early reports show they were too late to the party. Far worse, in cases like that of Dominoes, in which the online hysteria is not planned or executed by the companies whose brands take a beating, and their communications and marketing professionals scramble to implement some damage control.
However, more and more brands are finding the right way to engage customers, employees and even investors online in meaningful, thoughtful interactions. But how do you go from steady, well planned social media to a 'viral' experience? The vast audience certainly has appeal: YouTube has 100 million monthly viewers in the U.S watching 6.3 billion videos, Facebook has 200 million users, and Twitter is currently growing at an annual rate of 1300 percent. At this rate, Facebook and Twitter combined will have more than 300 million users by this time next year. At the same time, Nielsen reports that U.S. television viewers increased a mere 1.3 percent, to just under 290 million people, but that includes everyone from age two on up, with older viewers (age 55+) showing the fastest growth rate of still only 2.7 percent.
But this isn't a 'build it and they will come' scenario, despite some executive-level expectations. There’s a lot that goes into making an effective and popular online video, and there’s no one secret formula for success. But, there are a few basic 'rules' that almost always apply, starting with the fact that this isn’t an all or nothing proposition. Video can be an extremely useful tool to target your key audience. the right investment in video can make a positive impact with the right audience – even if it’s not considered a world-wide hit. Consider these and save yourself, and your brand, time, money and credibility as you add video to your online strategy:
- Be Yourself (Or your brand). Transparency is rule number one when it comes to all online interaction. People are smart and you should treat them with respect. This means being honest and representing yourself or your brand in a way that’s consistent online and off. Don’t try to take on another persona, or worse, steal someone else’s. You will be exposed and it will not be pretty. Tell your story, respect your audience, be creative and real. Your online community will respond accordingly.
- Shorter is better. Let’s face it, most people have the attention span of... well... we’ll avoid making comparisons. Point is, you’re not going to keep people watching for more than a minute or two, unless you’ve got something really amazing. Even then a few minutes and you’re done.
- Make a connection. Video is entertainment. This is your opportunity to connect emotionally with your audience. Video should show something that can’t be expressed in print, rather than a verbal and visual rehash of your latest blog entry. To be remembered and – more importantly – shared, you need to make people laugh, cry, or roll their eyes as they relate "that’s the challenge I live with every day!"
- Be relevant. Just like television advertising, the best spots are often also the worst ones. You’ve heard it before. A friend says "I saw the funniest ad last night. I can’t remember who it's for, but anyway there’s this guy..." Beautiful, well-executed creative creates a positive memory with its audience. A memory of... well, we can’t quite remember...
- Don’t over invest. Some of popular videos online are also highly produced TV commercials, but most of them are not. In the end, only a few videos go viral, and many of the most legendary viral videos – both good and bad – were made on a cheap hand held camera or even a cell phone. Find the right balance in reflecting your brand image, but don’t break the bank on outside talent and production. Video should be part of a larger strategy, so allocate your budget accordingly.
Are you ready to add video to your online communications strategy? SSA can help. Contact us to learn more.