Viral marketing

Earlier today I was thinking about one of the few episodes of “The Apprentice” that I have seen.  It was from one of the celebrity seasons and The Donald assigned the competing teams to create a viral video. The end result was this fiasco involving country star Clint Black that was mocked unmercifully on “The Soup”.

While I applaud Mr. Trump’s attempt at viral marketing, this seemed like an exercise in futility from the start. This was primarily due to the fact that almost every viral video has been something spontaneous. By plotting an ad campaign around a contrived viral video, it tends to lose the spontaneity and become nothing more than a television spot. Oftentimes a humorous commercial, but usually nothing more.

Observe, if you will, Unruly Media’s Viral Video Chart.  Almost none of these videos are professionally created. For the most part, they are humorous, amateur captures of real people. Of course, there are exceptions. One example is H&R Block’s Truman:

What separates Truman from the thousands of unsuccessful viral campaigns?  The simple answer seems to be an exposure of the video using social media. By allowing for feedback and planning along social media lines, H&R Block has allowed for users to interact with the campaign on several levels, leading to increased, albeit still modest by viral standards, campaign success.

In reality, it seems that content truly is king when it comes to viral marketing. By having quality content and building a fan base, the brand is promoted organically. Of course if the campaign were up to me, I would probably forgo all professional attempts, and have my video only tangentially link to the product. Then, following the (hopefully) successful run of the campaign, “accidentally” leak that you were the driving force behind the video.

But that’s just what I would do.


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