Five Mistakes Businesses Make with Attempting Viral Videos
Everyone I know in the video marketing industry dreams of producing a viral video: you know, the one that gets millions of views around the world complete with an avalanche of shares and comments.
The most successful video in the history of the internet is “Gangnam Style” by South Korean musician PSY with, at the time of writing, over 2.3 billion views and over 9 million likes on YouTube alone. The most popular non-music video is a home movie, “Charley bit my finger – again”, with just over 800 million views on YouTube. There are definitely opportunities from a local perspective with the most viewed Aussie video being GetUp Australia’s “It’s time—Marriage Equality” with over 15 million views.
Whilst a viral video can be seen as the ultimate success story, many videos with comparably miniscule views can be far more successful from a business profits perspective. However, the attraction of a viral video is tempting. As a consequence, branded content is becoming more common and often has bigger budgets. For example: Volvo Trucks Epic Split with Van Damn, Chipotle’s Scarecrow or the 2015 Budweiser Super Bowl Commercial "Puppy Love". There are five common misconceptions around what is required to make a viral video.
- Forgetting to KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid). Overcomplicating the video with too many messages is a sure sign that you will miss the target. There just needs to be one clear precise message for you to connect with your audience.
- You need a big brand to be able to create a viral video. Whilst this helps, it is not a requirement. A classic example of this is the Dollar Shave Club. With the incredible success of their tongue in cheek, down-to-earth video and now with over 2 million YouTube views, Dollar Shave Club catapulted into the marketplace.
- Viral videos need to have babies and dancing to be successful. We don’t mean these things specifically, but a viral video doesn’t have to have the same content as viral videos before it.
- Being unoriginal. Many brands have tried to copy the Old Spice success formula but all have failed. Your idea really does need to be new, even if it is a parody. Many great ideas fall over during execution. Viral videos are notoriously difficult to combine original ideas with exception execution. You need that something special that makes your video not only memorable but also remarkable.
- Patronising your audience and failing to make an authentic connection. As David Ogilvy said, “A consumer is not a moron. She’s your wife. Don’t insult her intelligence, and don’t shock her”. Just be real in your message and look for that thread that will connect you with your audience and make it as strong as possible.
Marcus Seeger is the #1 Amazon best selling author of “Video Marketing for Profit; 14 Proven Strategies for Accelerated Business Growth”. Marcus is managing director of video marketing and production agency, Video Experts. Information about Marcus's book and video marketing podcast can be found at www.videomarketingforprofit.com.au The book is available online and in all good book stores. For free video marketing training that will help you grow your business to the next level, visit www.videoexperts.com.au/blog
Q&A: Professor Loredana Padurean, Asia School of Business
As someone who is creating Asia Pacific’s business leaders of the future, what do you believe are the essential skills leaders require?
In many ways, we need leaders who are Renaissance women/men or polymaths, as opposed to specialists of an industry or a field. A polymath is a person with profound knowledge, proficiency and expertise in multiple fields and today’s leaders have to be able to combine various ideas, look at problems in novel and useful ways, and develop a broad and yet still deep set of skills, talents, and knowledge.
You’ve coined ‘smart’ and ‘sharp’ as skills of the future. What are these?
They are replacements for ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ skills, a concept coined by a US Army doctor in 1972 who observed that his pupils had different skills: dealing with machinery required ‘hard’ skills, while dealing with people and paper were ‘soft’ skills. This concept has served us well since, but I find it too binary, not to mention the semantic implications of the words themselves.
Soft implies gentle, delicate, mild, quiet, tender, weak. However, there is nothing soft in navigating competing perspectives and cultures, handling and delivering critical feedback or dealing with office politics. Instead, I prefer to call these skills ‘smart’. Hard implies rigid, difficult, heavy, static. But how can we think of engineering or software development as static or rigid? I believe ‘sharp’ is more apt as such skills need constant updating or sharpening.
I think it’s time to reflect on these classifications, because we can drastically change someone’s perspective by how we choose to talk about and frame something.
How important are smart skills in leadership today?
Smart skills are more important than ever because we live in a world of extreme diversity: generational, ethical, value-based, gender, etc. Gone are the days when giving an order was an effective act of leadership. I personally work with people from five different continents and across five different generations, therefore as leaders, we need to know how to adapt, motivate, inspire and connect. We need to increase our investment in learning about them in action, especially as smart skills are more difficult to develop.
I believe that a successful leader today has to be both smart and sharp. Take cognitive readiness, one of my top 10 smart skills. In order to be cognitive ready, one has to master system dynamics, one of my top 10 sharp skills. Also, did you know that one of the primary reasons why digital transformation fails is not the absence of digital literacy, a sharp skill, but the need for more validation and adaptability, both smart skills. So, instead of thinking of these skills as binary, I prefer to think of them as the yin and yang; co-existing and complementing each other.
So, you can teach leaders smart skills then?
Yes, you can, via a combination of the classroom experience, plus an action component supported by deeply embedded reflection. At ASB we call this Action Learning, and we teach it both in the MBA and in the executive programs. For example, in teaching a leader emotional maturity as a smart skill, first they need to learn what it is, and then act on it, before reflecting on what we did and how we did it. And then to repeat it, but this time with more expertise and awareness. It’s not easy, but that’s why my favourite mantra is ‘the job is easy, the people are not’.
Discover Professor Padurean's successful skills for a digital transformation here