From a marketing standpoint, viral videos are kind of like the arms of a T-Rex – they’re not gone, but they’re pretty much useless. The fact is, the majority of marketers who use video aren’t trying to go viral anymore; they’re aiming instead to deliver value to their organizations, to their viewers, or to both. In the aptly titled report (if I do say so myself) Getting More than “Going Viral…” Sophistication in Video Marketing, our findings show that the top marketing initiative pursued by 85% of video marketers is lead generation / customer acquisition. And while 80% cited brand awareness as a goal, the one thing viral videos can support, the other top initiatives cited were thought leadership (79%), sales enablement (71%), and improved customer interaction & retention(65%). Point being, the majority of video marketers are using their content to support multiple marketing initiatives, few of which benefit directly, if at all, from virality.
Level-setting on Video Marketing
Now, I’m not saying that having a video that happens to go viral is a bad thing. If you distribute your content effectively, and it resonates with enough people to get shared exponentially, well done! To use another analogy, however, what I am saying is that having a viral video is like marrying into wealth. If, for example, after tying the knot, your beloved bride or groom reveals that she or he is actually the crowned princess or prince of Shangri-La, then hooray for love and karma! If, however, your primary goal is marrying into wealth, well, you may just be the subject of a Kanye West song. In other words, viral videos are more often than not happy accidents (which may result from doing the right things); as a desired objective, they’re an empty pursuit.
you are waching: How Video Marketing Killed the Viral Star…
Beware of non-marketers on video marketing
Nevertheless, at some point, a panicked executive is going to rush in and pant:
“Our competitor’s video on widgets just went viral – drop everything and make a viral video of our own!”
“The board doesn’t think we have enough awareness. Your priority for this quarter is to make a viral video!”
“Didn’t we invest in marketing technology that supports video? We’re not getting the full ROI unless we have a viral video!”
“I just read an article on [insert buzzwords here] – we need a viral video!”
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How to Kill the “Let’s Make a Viral Video” Urge
So how do you avoid this empty pursuit? Let’s look at the facts.
For one, as noted above, the majority of marketers who use video aren’t chasing the viral video dream. If you’re being pressured to produce a viral video based on what’s trendy, you can cite actual video marketing research to empirically prove that, like recording things on VHS, nobody does it anymore.
In “This is what we need because I said so” situations where making a viral video is on the table, taking it off the table calls for a little tact. In these cases, the “nobody does this anymore” argument won’t work very well. Instead, you should focus on whether or not a viral video will really support your existing marketing programs. Since fueling multi-touch, nurture-based marketing campaigns with enough appropriate content is the top pressure reported by 65% of video marketers, the importance of having a system of marketing programs that videos can already fit into really can’t be discounted.
This programmatic approach to video should allow you to raise the following questions:
- Who is the audience for this video?
This question puts the viral video pusher’s perspective in jeopardy. If you have a well refined buyer persona, a healthy handle on targeting and segmentation, and/or a rich database of existing contacts, the idea that everybody should see this video starts to seem silly. With your existing resources, you’re beyond relying on a broad, shotgun approach; you’ve already invested in knowing precisely who you want to reach. You can thus redirect the conversation towards making the right video for the right audience for the right reason (read: conversion).
- What’s the next step that you want viewers to take?
Speaking of conversions, what does the viral video pusher want the video to actually do? Does he or she truly believe that the audience is going to have a miraculous epiphany after seeing the video and buy everything you have available? If the person advocated the viral video idea doesn’t have an answer, it could very well end the conversation right there. Effective video marketers align the content they create to the conversions they’re trying to drive. If the video doesn’t serve a clear purpose, does it really make sense to produce it?
- How will we measure success?
Research shows that video marketers are 124% more likely than their peers to have a lead-to-revenue framework in place allowing them to easily calculate ROI from video efforts. In other words, talking ROI should be in your comfort zone if you’re using video. Challenge whoever is pushing the viral video on how making this a priority, or a primary initiative, yields a favorable ROI. Chances are, they won’t be able to do it.
Effective video marketing has evolved well beyond the viral video fantasy stage. When it comes to producing and using video, today’s marketers are much more measured and strategic. Videos may still go viral, but if they do that will simply be an unforeseen (and, for all intents and purposes, unforeseeable) byproduct of everything else that video marketers do.
For more information on video marketing, read Aberdeen’s full, free report: Getting More than “Going Viral…” Sophistication in Video Marketing (July 2015).