youtube tv logoWe’re all familiar with the finger-biting babies, double rainbows, and the trip to the dentist, right?

These viral videos are a few well-known examples among hundreds of thousands of videos gaining popularity and being shared today. I think it’s safe to say that most of us have seen one of these videos, laughed hysterically and then shared the video with all of our friends via Facebook, email or another Internet media-sharing source. And this is the same response that marketers and businesses have been trying to get from their consumers since the beginning of time. So why is it catching on now?

The idea of viral marketing dates back to the 1990s when marketers were attempting to create viral slogans that would create word-of-mouth and “infect” their consumers, much like a virus. However, with the explosion of the Internet and the increased accessibility to virtually anything and everything, sharing media such as pictures, thoughts, and videos online has become easier than ever. Nowadays, more and more small businesses are jumping on the viral-bandwagon and creating catchy videos to share with the world.

Why is it beneficial? If the video is interesting enough and creates conversation, not only will it spread like rapid fire, but it will do so for almost no cost to you. With the exception of production costs, if any, making a viral video might be the cheapest marketing tactic to date. While many popular viral videos are simply silly home videos that made it big, viral video marketing and eWOM (electronic word-of-mouth) have become important aspects in many current marketing campaigns.

I’ve compiled a few great campaign-based viral videos below:


DC Shoes – “Hoops”

This ad does a great job of entertaining the viewer and avoiding too much self-promotion. The shots that these guys make are unbelievable! I couldn’t help but secretly hope that the ball would swoosh into the net each time it was tossed.

Old Spice – “Old Spice Guy”

Not only is this actor considered attractive by many women all over the world, but he seems to have captured the hearts of everyone. This video generated tens of millions of views on YouTube and increased sales by 107%.

Sussex Safer Roads – “Embrace Life”

I’ve probably seen this video a hundred times, and I still get the chills each time I watch it. Most commercials emphasizing seat belt use and car accidents actually use vehicles to portray, but this advertisement creatively shows something so tragic in such a unique way, it’s almost impossible to not feel some sort of emotion.

Here are some tips to remember when creating a viral video for your marketing campaign:

  1. 1. Appeal to emotion.
    The best way to capture a consumer’s attention is by making them laugh… or cry. If you stir up some sort of emotion, the viewer will be compelled to share the video with friends and family alike. Just make sure you truly understand your target audience. What is worth sharing with them?
  2. 2. Keep it simple. 
    Your viral video needs to be short, sweet, and to the point. Viewers shouldn’t have to watch a long, drawn-out movie to get the idea. It’s all about keeping the consumer engaged and interested without being too self-promotional. Just remember, the average sweet-spot for viral video length is about 2 minutes.
  3. 3. Don’t spend too much time or money.
    The more money you spend making a video, the more views you will need to get your return on investment. And viral status is never guaranteed. You’ll be better off spending smaller amounts of time and money on a great concept to create a viral video. Think cheap!
  4. 4. Spread the word. 
    After all, viral videos are meant to spread like a virus. It’s all about distribution and timing. Although a majority of viral video distribution is free and consumer-based, paid distribution is available and effective. However, the expense is slightly more since most fees are based on cost-per-click (CPC) or cost-per-thousand (CPM). If you choose to use paid distribution, make sure your business can afford it.
  5. 5. Remember: There are no guarantees.
    Although a video can have millions of views, it doesn’t mean sales for that brand or product will increase. In fact, there isn’t even the guarantee that your video will go viral. However, if your viral video makes an impression, literally and emotionally, it will likely benefit your business in some way whether it be increased brand awareness or brand loyalty, higher sales, or even better brand perceptions.

If you decide to integrate viral videos into your next marketing campaign, remember these tips and you just might have a hit on your hands!

For more information on how viral videos and eWOM can help your small business,