Brands Gone Viral
In the rapidly increasing move toward digital, big brands have found a silver bullet to add to their arsenals, something that blends their love of the traditional 30-second spot with the participatory frenzy of social networking: the viral video.
How do you make a good viral video, though? There are five key steps to consider.
Step 1: Pick a Hook or Two
Funny and bizarre, amateur-style videos are often what people think of when they think of viral videos-and sometimes, that is what works. We've even done our share of those at Razorfish. Funny and bizarre simply may not work for your brand, though, and that's OK. Many brands—from Dove to Nike to Apple and beyond—use different approaches and still have great success with viral video. Consider, for example, how the following two brands used their own approach to viral video:
- JC Penney's "Beware of the Dog House" was a big success (even becoming Creativity Online's most viewed clip of 2008), and though it was funny, it wasn't the normal kind of YouTube-style, lowbrow humor; it was more like a dark sitcom vignette that poked fun at a common cultural controversy. And it certainly wasn't amateur; it had a very slick, professionally produced feel.
- TED.com has created an entire empire of viral videos, yet none of the clips from this provider of free, recorded talks and performances are amateurish or include off-color humor or randomly bizarre situations. Instead, its massively popular videos use altruism and dazzling displays (sprinkled with often very intellectual humor) to connect with the audience and create a mass movement.
Looking at Ad Age and Visible Measure's weekly Top 10 Viral Brand Videos list from February 8, 2010, we see this range of approaches even more clearly. Though bizarre and funny videos definitely make the list often, other types do, too. Looking across the swaths of videos, there generally are five main "hooks" that tend to be used, often in combination. Take a look and start considering which hooks might relate to your brand: