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YouTube and other video sharing sites are an enormous part of the online world. Since launching in 2005, YouTube has become the fifth largest brand on the Internet. Its videos regularly generate more than 100 million views, and new stars are often born when a YouTube video goes viral.
YouTube can also make your business a star, even if you don’t have a big budget. Online videos usually cannot carry as much of the marketing load as television commercials, but they can provide an entry point or an engaging hook to draw viewers into the rest of your online campaign. YouTube, and other video sharing sites, can help you maximize your ROI.
Choose a format
Viral videos are created when a video advertisement is naturally passed by users through the Internet. Brandfocused videos, for lack of a better word, are videos that are anchored to a highly visible site, are clearly branded and are meant to be seen as commercials or sources of information.
These categories aren’t entirely separate, brandfocused videos can go viral, and many viral videos are anchored to one site, but they do reflect differences in how advertisers want them to be perceived. Viral videos appear as spontaneous encounters between consumers and your brand or product. Brand-focused videos are meant to be seen as messages from the brand to the consumer.
Before you decide which type of video to make, you have to decide what message the format of your video will send to the consumer, and whether it fits with your overall branding strategy. A viral video might be appropriate for a brand of beer, but it might not be such a good idea for a mutual fund company.
Sunglasses-maker Ray Ban has created a site on YouTube called Never Hide Films, where the company posts videos including viral sensations like “Cow Gives Birth to Dude” and “Guy Has Glasses Tattooed to Face”. The most popular one so far, “Sunglass Catch”, has hit nearly 5 million views. By watching them, you will see what many viral videos have in common:
1. Viral videos show something new or never seen before. This means that directly replicating a viral video, doing the same thing that another viral video shows is impossible. The person or people shown in the video have to be doing something so unexpected that the viewer will be caught off guard and feel compelled to pass the video along.
2. The video, however, can imitate the types of videos that go viral. For instance, the “Sunglass Catch” video is similar to other homemade videos where basketball players or skateboarders do more and more outrageous stunts as the video progresses. Look at several different viral videos and see if you can imitate the types of things that are shown, if not the exact actions.
3. A good viral video lies on the border between real and unbelievable. The more gullible will be shocked and will pass it on. But even the more discerning will pass it along because they think other people have been fooled by it , and want to correct them. The sunglasses tattoo video left many people, including news outlets, questioning its accuracy. Even though it is clearly on your site, commenters on YouTube still wonder if it is real.
4. The video should also look authentically homemade. Sure, there are many high-budget, visually rich ads that get passed around as viral videos, Sony Bravia’s are a good example, but with enormous budgets like that, the benefit of going viral is minimal. A good viral video will use its low budget as an asset. The lack of visual richness will also blur the boundary between real and unreal.
5. Having a place where viewers can easily connect the video back to other parts of your marketing plan is crucial. Author’s “Never Hide” tagline helps in this regard, but the fact that Author curates these videos on a single site is also important. Author also takes down copies of their advertisement from other posters so the connection to their home site is not diluted.
6. Most viral videos fail. Of the twenty videos on the Never Hide site, only four have reached one million viewers. Prepare to throw a lot of spaghetti on the wall before any of it sticks.