Viral video — are you looking for lots of eyes?

Eyes A couple days ago, I opened the topic of vlogging, viral videos, YouTube, etc.  My question was….do you viral video?  The statistics in the Pew study that I referenced in that post suggest that the number of people who are viewing viral videos (on sites like YouTube) is growing at a frantic pace.

But does that mean you should be doing it?  And if so….how?  Why?

I wrote a post about the presidential candidates marketing tactics and a couple people suggested that I should make a video because it would get some great exposure.   My question back to them was — "I will gladly do it  but I don’t want to just be a talking head.  Other ideas?"

So far, we haven’t come up with anything, hence no Drew on YouTube.  (And no, I am not donning an Uncle Sam beard and hat.)

One of the reasons why I think more people aren’t doing video is linked to my question. 

It’s not that I don’t want to do it.  But I want to do it well.  And for a purpose.  I thought it might be interesting to look at some different videos and talk about their purpose. Naturally, I am hoping that will trigger you thinking about how video might serve your business (or not) and jump into the conversation.  (If you subscribe via e-mail, please check on the headline above to be taken to the blog – so you can view these videos.)

Let’s look at some videos that clearly are intended to get a lot of eyes.  This trio of videos from HP were done to introduce the small business community to their Total care program.  Much like the 5 top viral videos of ’07, these are high end, funny and short.  Tailor made for being shared among a wide audience.

Life without HP: Car Wash

Life without HP: Experts

Life without HP:  Bubble Wrap

Funny?  I thought so.  Did they clearly demonstrate some of the values of HP’s Total Care?  I would say yes.  Are they well done enough to get passed around?  I’d guess so.  They’ve been on YouTube for a little over a month and Car Wash (apparently the most popular) has had over 8,000 views.

Do I think these videos accomplished HP’s goals?  It’s probably too early to know.  But, I am guessing if they get a few hundred thousand views, the answer will be yes.

Would doing videos like these serve your business?  If so…how?  If not, what is missing?

Other posts in this series:
Do you viral video?
Viral video – are you looking for a lot of eyes?
Viral video — are you trying to educate?
Viral video – are you trying to be heard over the noise?
Viral video — are you establishing yourself as an expert?

23 comments on “Viral video — are you looking for lots of eyes?

  1. Thanks for the heads up! Really great post. That’s a must-read I must
    say. 🙂

  2. gianandrea says:

    Drew, I would suggest that video is breaking in someway the shield we stay behind when online.

  3. Arlin Pauler says:

    Drew:
    I like your point about not just doing it because it’s latest hot thing going. I have many messages to share that this medium would be well suited for. But until I am confident that it will deliver real value and I can do it in a way that does justice to the message I’ll wait.
    Thanks for the validation of my practicing patience.
    Arlin

  4. So would your same thinking about starring in your own tv/radio spots follow in viral videos?

    Unless you are the product, hire a professional to star in your Youtube and viral videos?

    I would argue that the one-on-one conversational nature of blogging would encourage “you” to be the star of your own vlog.

    However, if you’re starting a viral campaign, the presence of “you” may not be necessary.

    Thoughts?

  5. Drew,

    I think that viral video’s are a wonderful way to reach the younger segment. Any brand targeting ages under thirty would be smart to create a hilarious video (like these HP videos) and release it on YouTube. If you monitor sites like Facebook and MySpace, a large percentage of communication amongst users involve the passing along of YouTube videos.

    The same is the case for email which would allow the older segments to be reached. Personally, I receive atleast 3-4 emails a day containing links to hilarious YouTube videos. I would suggest a Drew McClellan marketing magician video. Let’s see it!!!

    Marc

  6. Nic Darling says:

    My company produces backup software, not the most exciting or entertaining of topics. The videos we make are an attempt to add a little fun to our brand in a landscape of much drier approaches.

    I was fortunate enough to know a DP (director of photography) who agreed to help me produce these on an absurdly low budget. While they aren’t to the point where I would start pushing them heavily, the videos have been a fun place to send prospective partners and customers. They give some personality to our company.

    You can check them out at http://www.HowieHardDrive.com or search YouTube for Howie Hard Drive.

    The beauty of viral video is that one can get away with a little less polish and production value as long as the idea is entertaining.

  7. David Reich says:

    Drew, I have mixed feelings about videos for blogs. We are all so pressed for time that it’s difficult to take a lot of time to watchg a video. If you do it, it’s got to be short. Can’t say how short, because that depends on the subject and how much info you are trying to convey. But remember that we have short attention spans these days.

    Also, it’s difficult to sit through a talking head video, unless you’re such a dynamic speaker that you can be riveting. Trying a gimmick to be funny or cute can be risky. You want to remain professional, after all.

    I don’t say not to do a video. Just be cautious of all the reasons why it could bomb.

    I wrote about it at Daily Fix several days ago, and I’d say there was general agreement. Check it out at http://reichcomm.typepad.com/my_weblog/2008/01/blogvids—-yes.html

  8. Phil Darby says:

    There are already a number of points being raised by this post and its comments.

    The first is about traffic. I hear continual crowing from bloggers about the number of visits they receive on their blog, but of course, it’s not the traffic, but the quality of it that counts. I am not the slightest bit interested in 8,000 hits a day from kids who happen on my blog by accident between “confessions of a teenage nympho” and “how to make your facial hair grow faster” (you can always spot them because they don’t know the difference between “there” and “their” when they leave comments). So, apart from the fact that 8,000 hits for HP is a bloody disasterous result anyway, its not about numbers.

    Another point is about message. I have to say that I’m confused by the Howie message. Is the delinquent HHD a Howie HD, in which case these vids represent a series of reasons not to buy one? Or is he supposed to be the baddie that promts us to buy a goodie Howie? I think someone got carred away with the idea of viral video and didn’t notice that the message was a negative one.

    The other is about production values. In this case I think Howie gets away with it … just about, because the adds raise a small chuckle. However, generally low budgets unless they are in the hands of extremely talented people indeed (and both people with this degree of talent and the sitiuation where they only have small budgets are as rare as hen’s teeth) mean crap production values and ultimately that ony means one thing to viewers – a crap company!

    I don’t know Howies, but they appear to be a bunch of “fun” guys who make organic hard drives! The only way to do this stuff is like HP, but as a strategy its difficult to build a business case for unless you use the films on TV too. Good luck to them though, I really hope it works. I did notice that there is no click-through opportunity on them, which is rather wasteful of them. The more creative approach however was taken by Skype early on with their animated shorts that must have cost a fraction of the HD ones and had additional value because viral vids were an idea then.

  9. Gia,

    An interesting point of view I hadn’t thought about. You’re right. We feel safer behind our written words, perhaps. Less exposed.

    And most people aren’t crazy about how they look in photos or videos so it makes sense that they’d be more vulnerable.

    Drew

  10. Arlin,

    You’ve been quiet lately. Glad you’re back.

    I don’t know that I am advocating caution. But I do think (like with any marketing tactic) you need to understand why you’re doing something before you do it. Doing it just to do it is silly. No matter what the marketing tool we’re talking about.

    I think the consumers get to define value. Why not give one a try — even if you never show it to anyone else?

    Drew

  11. Erik,

    I think they’re pretty different. A few months ago, I wrote a series about business owners being in their own TV spot.
    http://www.mclellanmarketing.com/2007/11/hey-good-lookin.html

    But I think on a blog, we have to at least have a presence in the video. So you should either be on camera or at least have it be your voice. The authenticity factor of blogging would make having a “paid spokesperson” seem very odd.

    Now, if you are basically making a TV spot for the web (like the HP spots in this post) then sure — go ahead and cast talent.

    What do you think?

    Drew

  12. Marc,

    It’s definitely something I want to try. Just not sure of the content and how to provide enough value for the consumer yet. I doubt you will see me pull a rabbit out of a hat, but you never know!

    Drew

  13. Nic,

    Thanks for sharing your videos. How has the response been?

    I agree — production values are negotiable in viral video. IF…in my opinion you are clear on your goals with the project.

    Have your videos met, exceeded or not met your vision/goals for them?

    Drew

  14. David,

    yes…I saw your post. I’m going to be linking to it in the next post of this discussion series.

    I agree with you — most business people do not have time to watch amusing videos all day. They are watching for content/value.

    As for funny or some other gimmick — I think that depends on your brand. I do not believe you have to be stodgy serious to be taken seriously. But I think there’s a fine line. But it is probably the exact same line you walk in your off line professional life as well.

    Is there a viral video or video series that you watch on a regular basis – that provides that level of value to you?

    Drew

  15. Phil,

    I think you raise one of the points I was trying to make. Like any marketing tactic — much of this depends on intent. I am sure the RayBans vidoe was created with the express intent of hits/eyes. They wanted it to be as widely shared as possible. And they didn’t care if it was a bunch of teenage nymphos or yuppies or baby boomers trying to re-capture their youth. Their goal was numbers. (Please note proper use of their!!)

    But for most B to B companies, I can’t imagine that’s a key goal. Which means — how do they create something relevant that will impact/influence their audience.

    That’s what I want to explore in the next post in this discussion series.

    Can you think of some good examples?

    Drew

  16. Veronique says:

    Drew, thank you for this post.
    Another exemple with a short video which hits the goal, is what has just done the swiss newspaper “Le Tribune de Genève”. They made a short film with a real journalist telling that there is a new and unknown candidate to the swiss parliament; the candidate will make a lot of changes, etc…the name appears on airports, bus, boats, etc..ans, in fact, in a one click action everyone can write its name on it and get a code to blog it. It’s funny; it makes advertisaing for the person who uses it (see on my blog: http://rabuteau.blog.ouestjob.com/ on side bar!)ans it spreads the name and site adress of this well-known newspaper to the public it aims, ans a little more.

  17. Veronique,

    Thanks for the interesting example…a fascinating use of technology AND a good reminder — people are more likely to help you achieve your goals (spreading the piece) if it also helps them achieve theirs — exposure.

    Drew

  18. Mark Lewis says:

    Whats it take to get your video talked about? How do you make a viral video? What are the triggers that can have your video passed on by mouse advertising?

  19. Mark Lewis says:

    Using the rule of thirds is a very simple way to make your videos standout from the rest. Take a look around and you will see a lot of people not applying this basic rule of filming.

  20. Mark,

    I don’t think there is a simple answer to that question. When I think about the videos that have exploded in terms of being viral — some are funny and some are very touching. Some are a spoof and others are about real life.

    I think what they have in common is that they are original, they hold people’s interest and they touch a genuine emotion — be it making us laugh or cry.

    Drew

  21. What about the value of ‘goodwill’. No reason for HP to try and hit IBM head on with their campaigns. While large contracts are managed by a lot of other factors, if it were a toss-up between HP and IBM, I’d go with HP because of the campaign — it illustrates a way of thinking different than IBM.

  22. Paula,

    A good point. How often do you think companies remember the value in being “the good guy” in their marketplace?

    Drew

  23. buy viagra says:

    I would argue that the one-on-one conversational nature of blogging would encourage “you” to be the star of your own vlog.

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