Why You Should Stop Trying to Create Viral Videos

Is your business putting together a new video and planning to create something that goes viral on the internet?

If so…you better keep your fingers crossed and turn to every superstition you can think of – because what you need for a viral video isn’t a solid strategy. It’s a whole lot of luck.

You can spend all the time you want researching the hottest trends, finding a rabid audience and bringing in the most talented video producers money can buy. The fact is – most videos go viral completely by accident.

But don’t give up on video marketing just yet. It’s still a very valuable form of content marketing. Plus – who knows – you just might get lucky.

Your Idea May Be Awesome – But Will it Go Viral?

This incredibly hilarious idea has been burning a hole in your brain, and you are 100% certain you’ll get 1-million views on YouTube in less than a month.

You plan it. Shoot it. Upload it. Then wait…

Views slowly trickle in. You optimized it with keywords in the title and description. You promote it on social media. But in the end, you’re disappointed with the outcome. Your awesome idea failed to become the next Double Rainbow, Charlie Bit My Finger or Gangnam Style.

Don’t feel too bad. Even the folks in Hollywood have no idea how to produce something that’s a sure-fire hit. Just look at how many television pilots get cancelled every year. Look at the box office bombs that have blockbuster budgets – yet nobody goes to see them.

In an interview with Verge about the future of television, former FCC chairman Michael Powell (son of Colin) explained that there’s no secret equation for striking a chord with a large audience.

“Content doesn’t have a hit formula. Studio execs get hired and fired everyday. They blew a billion dollars on John Carter. They were sure they had a hit, but they had garbage. Then shows come out they think no one’s going to watch and they tear up the world. You couldn’t have told me someone was going to watch Honey Boo Boo. We should be a little humble about knowing the key to what people love.”

If the people who have the best producers, directors, hottest celebrities and not to mention focus groups can’t figure out how to make a hit, how can we expect to get millions of people to check out a clip on YouTube where three hours of video is uploaded every minute?

We can’t – unfortunately. Like many other things in content marketing, it takes time, dedication and hard work. But online video marketing can pay off.

Three Ways Your Small Business Can Create Effective Online Videos

1. Have a Specific Goal

sketch of guy with eye on project goalYou’ve heard a lot of good things about marketing with videos on the internet. But do you really know why it’s important for your company?

Video, just like any other online marketing technique, is not a magical elixir for making money.  You need a strategy. And the first part of your strategy needs to be what you hope to accomplish by publishing video content.

Phil Nottingham of SEOmoz recently posted an article on Building a Video SEO Strategy. He points out that optimizing a video often becomes an afterthought, and only receives attention when the video has already been shot, edited and maybe even uploaded.

That’s not how your content marketing strategy should work in any situation. Make sure your entire team is on the same page and is focused on the end results you hope to achieve.

Nottingham describes the possible goals as:

  • Conversion – Increase sales by convincing more people about the benefits of your offer.
  • Brand Awareness – Create memorable content showcasing what’s unique about your business.
  • Links & Social Shares – Boost search rankings, improve reach and engagement.
  • Rich Snippets – Get a higher click-through rate to increase traffic to specific pages.

It’s certainly feasible to get links and shares from a video with the goal of creating brand awareness or conversion. It’s also possible that a video focused on conversion can also improve brand awareness. You can reap multiple rewards from one video. You can even re-use the same piece of video content with a different goal in mind.

But when it comes to strategy,  Nottingham recommends sticking to one goal at a time.

“In most instances, it’s much more effective to directly and exclusively target one of the goals, rather than attempt to do everything with one piece of content. However, do remember that conversions and rich snippets should always be treated as conjunctive goals; as essentially two facets of the same strategic approach.”

2. Don’t Just Teach –  Entertain

One of the best ways to make your video content valuable is to make it educational. Teach them how to do something and you’ll have a lifelong customer who loves your business and respects your authority.

Don’t think an educational video means a boring video! It definitely doesn’t have to be that way.

There’s no such thing as a boring topic, only boring teachers. Think about that.

Back in school, you probably had certain subjects you hated and some you loved. But the right or wrong person at the front of the class made a huge difference.  Your favorite subject became a bore in the hands of a dry professor. But ancient history, chemistry and even trigonometry came to life when a teacher knew how to connect with the class.

Good Teachers…

  • Are Knowledgeable and Passionate About What They Teach
  • Know How to Engage All Kinds of People/Learning Styles
  • Have a Colorful Personality
  • Are Never Boring

Jon Morrow wrote a must-read article for Copyblogger about why learning How to Be Interesting is extra important for effective content marketing. He gives you 21 ways to avoid dullness.

Teaching and informing your audience is a sure-fire way to bring viewers (and new customers) over a long period of time – especially if you are solving the problems that many people need solved and answering the questions that need answers.

Just make sure you make those educational videos somewhat fun. Use music, graphics, good hosts/actors/voice-over talent…and most importantly use compelling stories to make your point.

The last thing anyone wants to watch is a video of someone sitting on tan couch up against a white wall talking into the camera. If that’s your video – it may as well be an audio podcast.

3. Launch an Online Video Series

girl with video cameraMarketing cartoonist Tom Fishburne wrote (and drew a comic) for the Content Marketing Institute blog about how we tend to over-emphasize viral video content – and why it’s just a waste of time.

Fishburne wrote about Why Content Continuity Trumps Virality:

He made the brilliant analogy of comparing the attempt to create exclusively viral content to trying to be a one-hit wonder. Everyone wants a hit – but nobody wants to be nothing more than a one hit wonder.

You need to be the Rolling Stones of content marketing – not the Vanilla Ice of viral videos.

If you focus on the bigger picture when creating online videos, you’ll start creating quality content that will remain relevant and useful for the long-term.

An excellent way to accomplish this is to produce an online video series. It could be a talk show where experts are interviewed. It could be a collection of How to Videos giving helpful hints related to services your company provides. You could even create an ongoing fictional narrative, or a series of videos telling customer success stories.

Continuity in your online video content will help you build an audience over time. It will be a quality audience that is actually interested in what you’re offering. That’s a whole lot better than a million people sharing your video of a burping cat.

Just for laughs…check out the viral video about viral videos below. And NO it’s not a real service!

Kasey Steinbrinck is co-founder of Copyjuice Media. He specializes in content marketing strategy  and copywriting for small to medium-sized businesses in Green Bay and across the country. He’s also worked as a TV producer. Creating video content is one of his first loves.

Images courtesy of Stuart Miles, 89Studios, imagerymajestic/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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