Viral Marketing is Achieved By Not Doing Viral Marketing

March 9, 2008 at 3:33 pm Leave a comment

Viral marketing isn’t something that you can control. You can’t just say something is “viral.” Sure, your video may be clever, and your video may have an element of “shock” to it, and it may be pretty cool to the people inside your office – but it isn’t a viral video until it’s passed around by a lot of people who have no stake in what you’re doing.

For example, here is Time Magazine’s completely arbitrary list of Top 10 Viral videos.

  1. Chris Crocker – Leave Britney Alone  17mil+ views
  2. Will Farrell and Pearl – The Landlord  54mil+ views
  3. Miss Teen USA South Carolina 23mil+ views
  4. Hillary/1984 4mil+ Views
  5. Phillipine Prison – Thriller 12mil+ views
  6. SNL – Iran So Far (data: n/a)
  7. Don’t Tase Me Bro/ MC Hammer 1mil+ views
  8. Dan Rather: To Coat or Not to Coat 400k+ views
  9. Clark and Michael 100k+ views
  10. Daft Hands 15mil+ views

Now, what are the common traits?

  1. All of the videos are either embarrassing, interesting, or funny.  There’s no corporate shill in any of them.
  2. Only one of the videos promote anything.  No ads for McDonalds, Coke, or Taco Bell in the bunch.  Only the Clark and Michael trailer is promoting something (themselves) and it is enough off-the-cuff humor to remain interesting.
  3. They’re worth talking about- each video makes you want to talk about the content.
  4. Only one professionally-shot video (SNL) – and even that has its roots in the amateur filmmaking.
  5. Mostly unintentional.  Dan Rather, Don’t Tase Me Bro, and Miss Teen USA SC weren’t expecting to end up on YouTube.

If you WANT it to become viral, then it probably won’t.

I think that the lesson here is that if you’re the kid at the lunch table doing something to be popular, everyone is going to see your true intentions.

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