September 2, 2014

2 Important Things to Know About Viral Videos

viral video facts

Ever since the phrase “viral video” became part of the English lexicon, business owners have been excited about the idea of having one. After all, what business owner or marketing manager wouldn’t kill for a video featuring his product that’s seen and shared by millions of people?

If you’re one of those business owners, there are a couple of things you need to know before you get too excited about the idea of creating a viral video.

Viral Video Facts

1) Videos About Products and Services Usually Don’t Go Viral

Have you noticed that there aren’t many viral videos featuring products and services? That’s because there aren’t many. It doesn’t mean they can’t go viral, it just means they usually don’t.

There’s a good reason why most viral videos are about things like turtles crossing a highway at rush hour. Those videos happen because the right video device was in the hands of the right person at just the right moment in time.

In a word – luck.

One of the few viral videos that was about a product was created by a blender company called Blendtec. Blendtec makes very powerful professional blenders. So, to demonstrate that, they created a series of videos of all kinds of crazy things being blended — golf balls, iPhones, Barbie dolls, etc. Of course the crazier it was, the more views it got and it became a viral sensation.

What people don’t realize is that this successful viral campaign was never created with the intention of going viral. It was created with the sole intention of effectively and creatively demonstrating the product benefit and selling Blendtec blenders.

2)  Most Videos Created with the Intention of Going Viral are Just Really Bad

The problem with the mentality of intentionally trying to create a viral video is that it places the emphasis on the wrong thing — being wacky or outrageous versus effectively selling the product. As a result those videos tend to be really bad. Often, embarrassingly bad. So, not only are they not seen and shared by tons of people, but the people who do see them often get turned off to the product being sold.

That said, most Web videos are totally boring. The people behind them fail to realize that it’s not just about communicating the right information, it’s about doing it in a way that quickly gets attention, engages the viewer, and ultimately persuades them to take the desired action.

The challenge is coming up with a big, smart, creative idea that does that.

Viral Photo via Shutterstock

5 Comments ▼
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John Follis


John Follis heads up Big Idea Video, creator of short format, high concept video that captivates and persuades prospects. According to Forbes, 76% of marketers expect to invest in video this year and make it their #1 marketing strategy. John Follis honed his talents as Creative Director and Co-founder of Follis/DeVito/Verdi, one of Madison Avenue’s most successful, award winning ad agencies.

5 Reactions

  1. You really cannot create viral videos just because you like to. It has to be interesting enough that people will share it. And even if it is interesting, people should be able to find it. So it is really a mix of coming up with something great and sharing or marketing it.

  2. I’m with you there: don’t go in with the intention to create a viral video, because it’s that very intention, for many, that goes against them. Just create, have fun, share/promote – see what happens – let go of what doesn’t.

    • Thanks for the comments above. It’s primarily un-enlightened, un web savvy clients that think a viral video is something that can be created with the right magic formula. Unfortunately, most of those type clients aren’t the type who’d be spending their time reading this blog.

      • You never know: this post might very well fall into the hands of those who could do with this type of information :-) .

  3. I would agree that you cannot try too hard to create a viral video. Some videos do become viral when you don’t even try to make them viral. Like Aira mentioned, the video really has to be interesting enough as well as engaging enough so that people will naturally want to share it. My partner and I have learned that when done well, videos can be great for generating traffic, building backlinks, and increasing conversions (since you’re able to put a “face” to your company and help build that trust with that prospect, etc.).

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