Practical Ecommerce

What is Viral Marketing?

I flipped on VH1 recently and sat enthralled as a rap artist with colorful language skills hosted “Web Junk 20” where they played 20 videos plucked from the web and played them on cable TV.

Last night I saw that Bravo Channel now airs a show called “Outrageous and Contagious Viral Videos” in the afternoon and evening.

The show features videos found online, focusing on funny, creative and “blooper” style content (though they skipped the foul-mouthed rap star).

Though most of the viral videos currently getting air time on TV get ooh’s, aah’s and laughter, the fact that “viral videos” are now a part of everyday reality has serious business implications.

For those of you without a teenager or that one “special” friend who always sends the latest joke or video every time you open your in-box, let me bring you up to speed.

A “viral video” is a video played from a web page or as a file on your computer. It goes “viral” because one person sees it and passes it on to more people, who in turn pass it on to their contacts (like a cold virus). This social interaction is the gas in the video’s tank to help it drive around the web, sometimes getting millions of views all over the world.

Now, once we get beyond the “jackass” stunts, bloopers, and giggles, the principles that drive viral videos can help generate serious traffic to business websites.

These videos go viral in a general market because they play to interests and emotions we all share, including: laughter,horror, lust and sadness. In the absence of any other common factors, we, as humans, all love to laugh, etc. In business, we’ve learned that niche markets make it much easier to sell a product or service because we can group people based on profession, physical characteristics and interests.

For example, a dental supply salesman knows to target dentists and hygienists, and would not bother calling on a craft store. On the web, a dog trainer knows they should target dog lovers, and if they’re really smart, they target owners of a specific breed of dog. Anyone who sells anything to anyone online can harness the power of viral videos to get traffic to his website simply by targeting the videos at a specific audience and appealing to the same emotions that encourage people to pass along other viral videos.

Humor

Put a smile on people’s faces, make them laugh, give them a moment’s break from a hectic day and they’ll love you for it (and want to share it with their friends).

Who says you can’t make a “how to” video for your customers wearing a chicken suit!

Short and Sweet

The best videos that keep people’s attention last under 6 minutes. When starting out, try to keep your videos under 2 minutes, especially if they contain mostly “commercial” content.

“Ask To Pass”

Sometimes a simple sentence of “Hey, if you like this video, feel free to pass it along to a friend” at the end of your video will start the viral effect rolling.

Go Where The Viewers Go

Once you’ve distributed your video to your existing customers and asked them to share it, put your videos out where new people can see them.

Start with Google Video, iFilm.com and YouTube.com and then keep your eyes open for new places to post your videos to attract new viewers.

Practical Ecommerce

Practical Ecommerce

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Comment ( 1 )

  1. Legacy User June 11, 2008 Reply

    Viral Marketing plays on our natural inclination to talk about stuff we find interesting.

    — *Wayne*