Why You Should Not Want Your Video To Go Viral

July 19th, 2016 in Video Content 5 minute read

From your best friends Snapchat story, to a video your colleague tagged you in on Facebook, 2016 has already been the year of video consumption.

With approximately 500 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, it is no joke that we are consuming online information at an unprecedented rate.

With Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy run time (465 minutes for the curious) being uploaded every second, it sparks the debate on whether releasing a video into the stratosphere of the web is worth it, especially from a ROI perspective. Let’s dig in.

Losing Focus

Now I’m not going to dispute that a viral video doesn’t do wonders for a brand. It provides almost instant fame for those involved, whilst sparking off all the engagement one could possibly desire. But what is the end goal?

A key word bounced around by marketing psychologists and advertisers is “recall”, essentially how long it takes for a brand to become part of your memory.

If within 24 hours your video is not going to be appearing on any newsfeeds, and with the astonishing rate of how quickly trending items fluctuate on an hourly basis, I question whether anyone is able to keep track of it all.

Can you remember what was the most trending video on Facebook 3 days ago? Probably not.

Now if I was to ask you about last weeks? Good luck.


So do I have short term memory loss?

Not quite. One reason it is easy to forget these great feats of brand achievement, is likely due to another viral video taking its place. Another equally powerful brand has risen up to steal the spotlight. This style of “disposable consumption”, among an oversaturated arena, makes it extremely difficult to get your message heard.

As larger brands and companies made room for online social activity, so did their advertising budgets. And this is where the problem for most small/medium-size businesses start in today’s social media circus.

To put into perspective just how financially competitive digital space is, a recent quote from Social Chain, a company with a conglomerate of Facebook accounts that are responsible for seeding successful viral campaigns, would have charged upwards of £20,000 for their minimum service.

It is by all means a guaranteed method of making your video heard, but when you have to spend that sort of money on seeding alone, never mind the overall production, it’s easy to see how the cost can spiral upwards at a scoffing rate.


The Bigger Picture

An overlooked consequence of artificially supercharging the videos initial reception, is the grey area over who is watching and engaging naturally.

..it’s very hard to start a mosh pit in a crowd of one

By abusing the metric in which customers have to perceive a video’s success, it inhibits the ability to gauge whether you have created content that legitimately strikes a chord with your audience.

To use an analogy, imagine if you were to set up a music festival, release tickets, and then personally buy all the tickets so it appears “Sold Out”. Sure, it may look great on a poster, but it’s very hard to start a mosh pit in a crowd of one.

We can assume that this level of consumption, saturation and expenditure are going to increase exponentially, which raises concerns on whether this style of advertising is starting to force out the little guys.

Along with an industry that preaches an obsessive compulsion for viral glory, it tends to highlight a distinct lack of care and attention for the people that matter the most: your customers.

narrative creatures

So let’s take stock. Pretend we are a small sized business. We want to engage our audience and can clearly see that video content is becoming increasingly more important in our digitally lead lives.

But trying to hop onto the carousel of branded publicity stunts may be difficult when up against some of the biggest organisations in the world. On a platform that is becoming ever diluted, is there a choice?

If we dispel the lottery-winning notion of wanting a video to go viral, and with it the contingencies applied to the creative process, it allows the development of a concept that does not have an immediate shelf life, whilst specifically focusing on what makes your business unique.

But how?

By telling a story.

We are storytellers by nature. Through how we formulate our conversations, to the carvings on cave walls a millennia ago. We are by default, narrative creatures.

As a filmmaker, you couldn’t ask for richer narrative tapestry to choose from than your brand, because every company has a story to tell.

Celebrate the wonderfully talented people that you clock in with every day, and the ethos that makes the cogs turn. Describe how you went from the midnight bedroom idea to the desk you are sat at today. Show how your incredibly complex production line comes together to create your product.

Even if you happen to sell the exact same product or service as your competitors; it is the process of how you got there which remains remarkably individual. I could go on and on (that is my job), but your focus should be on one thing only: Passion.

Documenting Passion

There is something so immediately captivating about people that are passionate about their craft, whilst being as effortless to watch as it is to produce. I’d probably watch someone ironing a shirt if they were passionate about it.

No seriously, watch this video and tell me you are not enthralled by how meticulous this iron wizard is with every move.

One of the main reasons for showing a process through a visual medium, is that it allows new customers to learn and understand elements about your industry, whilst giving the already loyal something to really sink their teeth into.

By placing the lens inwards, it rids the need for unnecessary and elaborate production schedules, as the only thing you need is yourself.

Overall, it helps bring to light something we are constantly searching for before we click buy: Information. (Check out Zero Moment of Truth for more on this).

Too Long; Didn’t Read

With an overwhelming wish for virality, we throw out an endless list of alternative video possibilities that could speak directly to your audience.

Without the desire to create a video that is immediately shareable, you can provide content that not only enriches your brand position, but demonstrates your willingness to innovate alongside your consumers.

We had a great opportunity to do this whilst introducing the One To Watch series for Page and Cooper, a documentary series uncovering the history, passion and people behind some of the world’s most renowned luxury watch brands.

If you’d like to chat about any upcoming ideas you may have, please feel free to get in contact, I do love a good chinwag.

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