Going Viral: Why Your Organization’s Video Doesn’t Need A Billion Views
A couple days ago, our very own Shana Glickfield said, in response to a request to help a make a video go viral, “There is no viral ‘button’.”
What Shana means by this is simple – it is obvious that clients and media professionals want our videos to gain massive organic exposure, and viral is the buzzword that’s been adopted to describe this mythical and difficult-to-formulate surge in views.
Most videos will be lost in the clutter, and making a video “go viral” is an incredibly difficult feat to achieve. According to YouTube, 48 hours of video are uploaded to their site every minute, resulting in nearly 8 years of content uploaded every day.
The thought behind going viral is usually, the more people that see a video the better. For most organizations and clients, though, this isn’t the case. Here are five reasons why going viral is not necessary for your organization’s video.
1. With a viral video, you end up missing the target.
Viral videos are the equivalent of throwing everything at the wall just to see what sticks. This lack of focus means that the people who you actually want to see your video, your targeted audience, will be overlooked in favor of trying to run up the video view count. Your video will completely overshoot the goal.
2. Viral videos don’t tell a story.
When most clients produce a video it’s because they’re trying to create a narrative that can’t be done in the same way as words on a page. Look at most viral videos. They’re of cats playing, kids coming home from the dentist and people dancing. None of these videos tells a story or includes a narrative- which for an organization to try and reach the same size audience as one of these, they too would most likely need to do away with any meaningful content.
3. People rarely watch viral videos to learn more about a product or cause.
People watch viral videos to be entertained, grossed out, or to be brought into the loop on what their friends are talking about. Again, an organization banking on having their video go viral would have to do away with their core message or education in order to win the race to the bottom or hit that coveted “viral” threshold. This leads me to my next point:
4. Viral means that people are watching just for the sake of watching.
The format and precedent around viral videos mean that people are watching for a very short time just to see what the fuss is about, not to digest a message or respond to a call to action.
5. The lifespan of a viral video is (very) short.
When the decision is made to create a video, most organizations spend a lot of money to create professionally produced videos that look well done. These videos can, and should, be used for longer than a week. Viral videos are like candy – they’re great for a minute, but no one remembers them in the long run. A more targeted nuanced video focused on an appeal to the right people can make an impact well into the future.
Viral videos can be a good tool if you want to get the message out about your skateboarding cat or talking dog, but the idea that “going viral” is the only way to get your video’s message out is misguided. The reality is that a more targeted approach, using a digestible message with an impactful call to action, even with a smaller audience, should be your version of success!