Viral Videos - The Good the Bad and the Blend!

Keep up with the very latest developments in the digital marketing world

By Jade Hark
on 17/9/09

Viral  videos have been born out of the success of video sharing sites such as YouTube.  Videos can be easily shot nowadays, many of us having video cameras built into our mobile phones and YouTube makes it easy to braodcast those videos to a global audience.

From a marketing perspective, shooting a video and planting it on YouTube is only the first step.  YouTube videos that contain content that is worth watching ( a novelty for most of what is contained on YouTube), that is original or funny can be seen by millions in a matter of hours as these are the videos that people will watch, enjoy and then share.  It's this sharing that is also known as 'going-viral' and successful viral videos are those that appear on blogs, websites and achieve millions of views on YouTube and other popular video sharing sites.

The Good

Recently, United Airlines in the states were on the wrong end of a viral video campaign (below).  As you'll get from the song they managed to damage some of Dave's luggage (his guitar) and he wasn't too impressed with their customer service so posted the following on the net to vent his anger and hit-back.  This video has had over 5 and a half million views on YouTube and has been mentioned on national news channels.  This worked because it was original, had a serious point and of course like most good promotional pieces has a good sprinkling of controversy.

The Bad

Remember way back at the top of this post I mentioned the criteria for successful viral videos, and one of those being 'original' (I'll pass on the funny and worth watching as they are due to opinion).  Well, the BBC recently decided to target Virgin Media through a 'viral video' campaign, but in exactly the same sort of way as Dave Carroll in the previous video.  They got a guy with a guitar, wrote a jingle and filmed him walking through relevant areas related to the words he was singing.   Admittedly, airports aren't the most fun places, but graveyards?

The song is awful, the locations are dull but... he can play electric guitar without plugging it in.  Despite the prime-time mention on their 'Watchdog' programme the video (to 4.5 million people) it has hardly taken off, proof that big budgets are not necessarily the key to viral video success.

Note: I know I am adding to the virality of this video by publishing it on here, just don't think they were going for that, 'so bad it's good' vibe.

In conclusion, taking successful ideas and trying to emulate them on the net in a viral capacity rarely works. Being original and creative is what counts and is what will make people want to share your message and give your brand positive exposure. Let the creative juices flow and have an open mind, much like the marketing manager of the company below must have done, would love to have seen his initial reaction to this idea! However, it's originality and humour have made it one of the most successful viral videos to date, right up there with Dave and his 'United Breaks Guitars'. Enjoy.

Will It Blend?