You can’t plan on going viral

By Niki Morock

I was sitting in a seminar last night for budding entrepreneurs when a fellow audience member asked a question that sent my mind down a tangent. She said that she had a video produced for her website, and with children involved, they ended up with so many bloopers that the producer wanted to do a separate blooper reel. He told her that it would go viral and lead visitors to her site.

While I have no doubt that a blooper video filled with children would be fun to watch, I actually have doubt that it will go viral in the way that she expects it, too. It might, but I wouldn’t design a marketing campaign around it. You can’t plan on going viral.

What if it does go viral? What if that adorable video of children messing up their lines, bursting into laughter, or being knocked over by puppies is seen by hundreds of thousands of people? How much business do you think all of those views will lead to? The only audience she should really be concerned with reaching is her target audience — the small percentage of the population that would use her service in her geographic area.

Think about it. When you watch a viral video on Facebook or Twitter, do you click through to the source to see where it originated, or do you just comment or re-share it with a simple “lol” or a description of why you found it funny? Shares on social media do not guarantee leads generated on the originating website. Social engagement does not always equal new business.

A safer, more reliable campaign to introduce her new small, business to the world would be a combination of print, digital display ads, even some search engine optimization and search engine marketing in her geographic area. While cute videos can be great content for websites and social media and valuable for additional branding opportunities, they are not dependable lead generation tools.

I’m sure her video producer is an optimistic fellow who thinks he has worked with the funniest, cutest kids on the planet, and why wouldn’t they go viral? Maybe he is right, but it would be foolish to count on it.

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