SMM UK: Viral Dos and Don’ts
This is another in a series of reports about the Social Media Marketing 2010 conference, held June 17 in London.
Henry Cowling knows how to get a laugh.
He was demonstrating the first of four principles of creating viral content: Be relevant to your audience.
To this group of social media enthusiasts, the use of the video was appropriate and it demonstrated Cowling’s offbeat approach, his “badge of personality.”
“It’s very tribal,” he said. “You need to speak to a specific group.”
He mentioned that some tech enthusiasts produce and share “unboxing” videos. This one from March on the unboxing of a new iPad has had more than 700,000 viewers on YouTube.
(The Viral Factory had a little fun by producing this video on unboxing a Samsung Omnia phone – marching band included.)
“Going viral” usually begins with bloggers of that tribe and, if memorable, the sharing of it leads to mainstream coverage.
Henry Cowling describes the dos and don’ts of viral marketing at the June 17 London conference.
Cowling’s second principle to the marketers was the reminder that you are working in editorial space, not advertising. This isn’t purchased marketing.
“You need to entertain first,” Cowling said. “Absorb the culture of the audience you’re trying to reach.”
Companies need to act as brands in editorial space, and should invest in better production values.
“Your competition is Lady Gaga and World Cup goals, not competing brands,” he said.
And, like it or not, edgy material gets eyeballs, he said. Diesel, the fashion company, speaks to its particular audience with this potentially offensive – but funny, to some – party video. It has 13 million views.
Third, there is a difference between receivable vs. sendable, Cowling said.
Viral has its own rules and it’s hard to write the funniest content, he said.
“You need to appeal to specific communities,” he said. “It’s getting people to hit ‘send.’”
Would you send this video of Scary Maze reaction? It’s been seen almost 19 million times, so you can assume it’s being passed along.
Or this one about walking on water, or “Liquid Mountaineering“? Five million views.
Last, marketers need to stay “on message,” he said.
Brands can exist and thrive in the social environment.
“People don’t object to advertising,” Cowling said. “Viral is not about ‘unbranded’ content.”
Skype has a video called “Laughing Chain.” It has 6 million views on YouTube. (Check out the “gnaw” guy’s laugh midway through!)
Finally, Cowling said photos and interactive games can go viral but videos are typically best.
“The barrier to entry is low,” he said.