What makes a video marketing campaign "viral?"
Monica Hamburg recently wrote an article which is a crash course answer to this question. She quotes The Six Simple Principles of Viral Marketing:
“any strategy that encourages individuals to pass on a marketing message to others, creating the potential for exponential growth in the message’s exposure and influence. Like viruses, such strategies take advantage of rapid multiplication to explode the message to thousands, to millions.”
In other words, a viral video is one that compels me to share it with my friends, and then compels my friends to share it with their friends, ad infinitum. Potential = Huge.
So, the question that begs to be asked is: What makes a video so compelling that I want to share it? What is it about a video that compels me to spread it through the social web -- that compels me to add it as a favorite on Youtube, compels me to post it on MySpace or Facebook, or compels me to write about it on my personal blog?
The general consensus is that that a video which is compelling enough to go viral is exceedingly funny or clever.
What's wild, though, is that if you look at the top videos on YouTube itself -- you'll notice that the great majority aren't just funny or clever. They're also music videos! And if they're not music videos, they almost always have a strong soundtrack that plays a vital role in the mood & meaning of the video. Music is key to their virality.
Interestingly, I've checked out a lot of the top videos and while they have gotten tens of millions of views and are clearly viral, I don't find them at all compelling. They were obviously entertaining enough for many people to share with their friends -- but they weren't compelling in the true sense of the word. If you feel compelled, then you feel like you absolutely must do something. And these videos didn't come close to making me feel like I absolutely had to pass them along...
What would compel me to spread a YouTube video? If there was something at stake. If spreading the video would make a difference in the world.
And that's where the nonprofit community comes in.
The nonprofit community is composed of organizations which focus on a wide array of issues in which everything from genocide, rain forest destruction, and child trafficking are at stake. These are huge and important issues - many of them with life or death consequences. And it is because there is so much at stake when it comes to the missions of these organizations, that they can create videos which are inherently compelling. People feel compelled to spread these videos because by doing so, they're building awareness and making a difference.
While the nonprofit community has created many great videos about social issues, the music video genre, which has proven to be the most viral, remains largely untapped by this sector. As previously discussed, creating a music video is key if you want to have a hugely successful viral video. People like music videos and if you can wrap a social cause around dancing, singing, & a good beat - you're far more likely to get your message spread through the web. There is a lot of space here for creativity as well as risk – although the potential exposure for social causes could be bigger than anything we've ever seen before!
Got a video that you think fits this description? Submit it here.