Viral Video for SMEs

One of my non-business, non-artistic family videos reached a significant milestone this weekend.  Seren's Birth Video has now been seen over 100,000 times on You-tube alone.  (Warning: Graphic Childbirth Scenes! Not Safe For Work!)  See it here.  After the initial spike it is now viewed about a thousand times a week, varying slightly depending if it has been featured in a blog post or on a child birth forum.

Although 100,000 views isn't enough to consider it a real viral video, it got me thinking about how viral videos can help small businesses grow...

Image: Kentbye CC2What is a Viral Video?

A viral video is a video that gains widespread popularity on the Internet by many people passing it on through email, instant messaging, blogs, facebook, twitter and other media sharing websites.  The video is transmitted in a similar way to a real virus, jumping from one person to another using pre-existing relationships.

What is a Viral Marketing Video?

The aim of a Viral Marketing video is to use the viral nature of the medium and use the viewer to pass a brand building video on, without you having to pay any distribution costs.  If the video is good enough the viewers become willing and knowing participants in this game, not minding that they are advertising for you for no monetary payment, as you have earned the favour by entertaining them for a minuet or two.

What are the Benefits of a Viral Marketing Video?

As a general rule, I would say a video needs to have over half a million views to be considered a really successful viral video, but anything over a couple of hundred thousand views will create a buzz around your brand and have a real impact on your business.  A Viral Marketing Video can help a small to medium sized business in at least four ways.  I'll explain using a couple of well known examples.

"Will It Blend?" from Blendtech.  1 min 37 sec.

1.  Increase Sales.

The "Will It Blend" series has been massively successful with over 80 million views, directly increasing sales.  Although you will most likely never get this many views and only a few percent of viewers will be potential customers, that still could be many thousands people who are looking for your product or service.

2.  Strengthen Brand Identity.

Blendtech and Tom Dickinson are now a nationally recognised brands in the USA, mainly through the "Will it Blend" series.  Customers and fans buy "Will it Blend" t-shirts as they want to associate themselves with the quirkyness and fun they see in the videos.  Other companies and organisations also want to assosiate with Dickinson and Blendtech and actually send their products to them to be blended.
When someone receives a video from someone they like, admire, trust or respect, part of the positive feeling that they have for that person is transferred onto your brand.  This is the same phenomenon that traditional marketing exploits by using celebrities to feature in adverts.

"Matress Dominoes World Record" from Bensons for Beds. 1 min 10 sec.

3.  Coverage in the Local and National Media.

If a video goes viral it is often picked up national media outlets which then increases the impact to brand awareness and sales.  The Bensons' World Record video was picked up by most national newspapers (e.g.Mail, Guardian, Express), Channel 4 News and received even more attention when Blue Peter did the same stunt a few months later. 
Even a mildly successful video will draw the attention of your our local or regional newspapers and radio stations who are always on the look out for the latest local hero or celebrity. 

4.  Increase Employee Moral.

Even if the Bensons Beds video had not gone viral and none of the previous three benefits came about, the moral boost for the staff alone would have made the exercise worth while.  "The staff got together to do something different, fun and slightly risky!"  Sounds familiar?  Just like a standard team building day trip out?  Though when you film a video together it builds your brand externally as well as internally.  If you needer a larger cast for your video, consider inviting your employees family and friends along to help out.  This will encourage a community feel during filming, which is good in it's self, but it should come across well in the video as well.
Having a successful Viral Video out on the web also makes your business a more desirable place to work and you will find recruiting better quality staff a bit easier.

In my next blog post I will talk about number of useful things to consider when planning your Viral Marketing Video.  Any questions to or comment using the comment form below.  Please subscribe to this blog using this feed.

Reminder:  My film "Lift" is being shown at the Exposures Film Festival this Wednesday 18th November at 4.30pm.  See here for more details.