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Don’t try to make a viral video—Make a great video instead

Don’t try to make a viral video—Make a great video instead

We all want to do an awesome job for our clients. In the world of video marketing strategy, many people consider “awesome” or “successful” to equal “our video went viral”. Here’s the thing, since only a small fraction of videos ever “go viral”, making that the focus of your video marketing strategy is doing both you and your clients a disservice. The reality is that focusing on making an awesome video with great production quality is far more important in both the short and long term than trying to shoot for the moon and going viral. In Social Media Today’s Viral Video Manifesto series, they make it sound like creating a video that will go viral is a simple, formulaic process that anyone can follow and succeed. While aiming for the stars is laudable, it isn’t a strategy that has a good chance of success.

Very few videos ever go viral

I was looking for some kind of data that could give you an idea of how few videos “go viral”, but if you consider that you can count on your hands the number of videos that go viral in a year versus the number of videos uploaded every day that percentage is so small that I’d need to use scientific notation to put it here. I did find this quote however from Video Marketing for Dummies that puts it very succinctly:

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.

Putting this into perspective, the chances of your video going viral are about the same as hitting a grand slam, blindfolded, with your back to the plate—essentially slim to none. So if you base your strategy on the video going viral for a campaign to be successful—you’re setting yourself up to fail.

Quality is essential to success

Data from Conviva highlighted by ReelSEO and us—Two Seconds of Video Delay Equals 20% Drop in Viewers—draws a clear parallel between the quality of a video and how many people watch a video all the way through (or at all). While the Conviva data focused primarily on low long it takes a video to start up, by reading the report closely you can make the connection that people won’t waste time watching a poor quality video. Poor quality can be how long it takes for the video to start playing, poor audio quality, poor picture, or even poor planning and dialog. The bottom line is that regardless of how “quality” is measured, “just okay” or something you’ve shot yourself, isn’t good enough. Since the goal of any video marketing strategy is people watching the video all the way through and take some kind of action, you need to make a video that is watchable in the first place.

If not viral, then great

So if the chances of creating a viral sensation are pretty low, and overall video quality is so important to viewers, then the answer is obvious—spend your time making videos that are great. Helping your client to plan and make a great video is much easier than trying to hit the viral video jackpot. Here are just some the elements of any great video:

  • Planned. Great videos aren’t just shot off the cuff, they are planned ahead of time and stick to a production plan
  • Professional. Great videos are professionally shot and edited. You can’t skimp on this.
  • Promoted. A great video isn’t truly “great” until other people watch it. Make sure that clients have the video on their website, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, and any other social media destination that makes sense for their audience.
  • Proven. There are a number of proven types of videos that resonate with viewers and drive business results.
    • Company or product profiles: talk about and explain a company or its products
    • Customer testimonials: let happy, satisfied customers do the selling.
    • Press releases: take a basic press release and expand with video to explain the news
    • Interviews: What makes a company or product tick.
    • Ads: a scripted ad to promote a company or announce a special offer.

Set yourself up to succeed, not fail.

It might take some diplomacy, but you need to set realistic expectations in your your client’s mind. Becoming a viral sensation isn’t realistic or achievable. What is achievable is building a strategy upon high quality videos, that convey a message clearly, and can be connected to business metrics. This is something that you can achieve with any client and not bank on one off success.

Photo by clive dara from Flickr.

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