Spiral Marketing: The More You Know, The More You Can Know

October 9, 2009

Sticky Note: Can a company “manufacture” a viral campaign?

I saw this question on LinkedIn posed by Dennis Crosby, CEO of PlayDates Foundation and a marketing consultant:

“Lately I have seen a lot of media companies advertise the ability to create viral videos. Now a viral video can be defined as “A viral video is a video clip that gains widespread popularity through the process of Internet sharing, typically through email or Instant messaging, blogs and other media sharing websites.”

You see a lot of popular videos on youtube, facebook, college humor, etc, that would be defined as a viral video. I can’t say that I have seen a single one that was promoting a company or product. It seems wrong that people are saying that they can create a video that people will spread across the internet to be viewed by the masses. Is it just me? What do you think? “

This is my response:

“No – I don’t think it is possible to ‘manufacture’ a viral video (or guarantee one will go viral). By definition, something goes viral when it is presented to people who then share it with others (who may then share it further, and so on). If a company is behind a video, they can control who they present it to, but they can’t control how it is shared.

A good firm will be able to help identify what MIGHT go viral, and recognize potential viral opportunities that emerge, but to start with an intent and a guarantee that something will go viral is over-estimating the marketing organization’s capabilities and under-estimating the power of consumer choice in making something ‘viral’ (or not).”

Be wary of anyone who guarantees “viral” results – the beauty of anything viral is the very fact that it goes beyond the company’s control. You can either have the benefits of control, or the benefits of viral – you can’t have both.

What do you think?



1 Comment »

  1. I agree… I’ve had several clients ask about how to make something go viral.

    My answer – make it awesome. Make it fresh and new. Make it short and entertaining. And then… give it away.

    You can’t have control.

    Comment by Elisa Hebert — October 26, 2009 @ 8:57 pm | Reply

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