Never, ever, ever ask for a viral

I recently partook in a LinkedIn discussion around viral campaigns for B2B (in particular videos).

My views on viral are fairly simple.  Clients should never ask for one and agencies should never seek to create one.

And the reasons are simple:

  1. The virality (if such a word exists) is not down to the people creating it or the people approving it; it is down to the people receiving it. So with all the will in the world, agencies can create the funniest clip using cats and laughing babies but if it doesn’t rock the boat of the person seeing it they won’t send it on
  2. It puts the wrong focus on the campaign – from message to something people will share… if you focus on the latter you dilute the former and then what’s the point
  3. What’s viral anyway?  Is one person sharing it to another viral?  Technically yes, and if that happens to be the forwarding of a simple email or video to the person who will ultimately sign multi-million pound checks then is it not worth it?  The problem is most people want the million-plus views etc and sometimes that is just not the right brief.

Brands need to consider the following:

  • what are you trying to say?
  • to whom?
  • what’s the best medium to use?
  • how will people receive it? In what context/frame of mind?

For it to be viral, it has to be of perceived value to recipients – valuable enough that they would trouble their contacts with it. It doesn’t matter if it’s funny, if it’s B2C or B2B.

If they care, they share.

So don’t ask for a viral, simply ask for something that is on message, then seed it through clients, staff, twitter, website etc.  If enough people see value in it, they will pass it on.  Then you’ll have the viral you always wanted!

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3 thoughts on “Never, ever, ever ask for a viral

  1. Pingback: This is not viral | The general musings of Andre Santos

  2. Pingback: On TV and Virals | General musings

  3. Pingback: Flippin’ virals | General musings

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