What is the difference between viral videos and online marketing videos? While the answer is very direct and simple, I thought about elaborating more to make business owners understand and be aware of the difference, and tie it to online video marketing.
As per definition: A viral video is a video that becomes exponentially popular by being shared on social media and email. An online Marketing video is aimed at promoting a business, an idea, a message, a product or a service. These videos (incorporated to an online video marketing campaign) are uploaded to various video sharing websites like YouTube with specific titles that can be found by those who are searching for such content.
While both videos are considered online videos (when uploaded to websites like youtube), it has a different reach, audience, and desired result. Same way addition and subtraction are part of mathematics it serves two distinctly different outcomes when considering the same numbers (3 + 2 = 5 and 3 – 2 = 1).
Let us expand the meaning a little bit more by the analyzing the desired expectation (results) for both…
What is the desired “expectation” of a viral video?
All those who upload videos on youtube and other video hosting sites “want” the video to accumulate engagement by viewers (watches, likes, comments, shares and subscription to the channel). Most amateur videos that portray cute animals, pets, and babies become viral purely to the entertainment value of it. The intention of the person uploading the video may not be to gain likes and comments but rather to be shared by family and friends. Some of these videos are further edited (by a different user) to add more humor with a written message and music. Viral videos are aimed at Entertainment, while some viral videos evoke strong feelings of humor, anger, sadness, rejuvenation and determination. Those who watch, comment and share these videos often find these videos on their friend’s social media feeds like facebook and via e-mails. They don’t actively “search” for these videos.
The desired expectation of a viral video is what gives the title “viral” as viewers engage the video (like, comment and share) and cause a chain reaction. When Gangnam Style by PSY broke in to youtube in July 2012, the video caused a viral avalanche by reaching 2 BILLION views by July 2013 – the most watched video on youtube to date.
Then there are those who operate youtube channels (and facebook pages) that are geared primarily for the entertainment value to increase video views, comments and subscriptions. These channels often put out “previously planned” videos of public pranks, interviews, social experiments. These productions are very different to a parent filming their toddler playing with their house pet. They involve better video equipment and well thought out strategies to improve the video. Some of these channels are dedicated to religious and political viewers as well. There is no visible product, or service.
The objective of some channel owners is to make money with the popularity of their videos and their video channel. YouTube lets channel owners to monetize videos on thier channel and earn money from the ad revenue. For the videos to be eligible for monetization, channel owners must own all the necessary rights to commercially use all visuals and audio elements, whether they belong to them or to a third party.
What are the desired “expectation(s)” of an online marketing video?
FIRST let us differentiate an online marketing video from a commercial video as seen on TV or at halftime of the superbowl:
The success of TV commercials is judged through research. Questions asked by the consumers (or the target audience) on brand recall after viewing the commercial are asked, documented and analyzed. There are many sorts of sophisticated methods used to judge the impact of TV commercials but many cannot directly link them to increase of sales or brand awareness.
When we sit in front of the TV we don’t volunteer to watch commercials, instead they are forced upon us. This is the fundamental difference between a TV commercial and an online marketing video. Online marketing videos have the distinct ability to include call to actions, discount codes, coupons or a suggested second follow up video at the end of a video.
OK… back to the topic of What are the desired “expectation(s)” of an online marketing video?
The difference between a viral video and an online commercial video is that the targeted views come mostly through “search” and by “suggested videos” (youtube). Unlike a TV commercial, those who search for information online are doing so voluntarily and have a vested interest in finding the information they are looking for. And unlike viral videos they are NOT looking to be entertainment, but rather to be informed and educated – BUT if you are able to entertain the searchers through your online videos then you are obviously going to find greater success from your online marketing videos.
An online marketing video, usually have more painful waiting periods for watches, likes, comments and subscribes. This is a fundamental fact that most business owners tend to avoid understanding. A Successful “viral” video typically gains hundreds or even millions of views within weeks or months. One thing that already is going for them is that they already have an eager subscriber/follower base eagerly waiting for their next video (Lady gaga, Justin Bieber).
There are varying desired expectations for marketing videos. The most popular is to drive traffic to a website. There can be sales driven videos that promote a code or coupon. The success of any video marketing campaign is to have a positive ROI. This is what matters. If your marketing video has 1 million views and an equal number of “likes” and “comments” and is NOT generating any traffic to your website or increasing sales to your business – then it has failed it’s “marketing” objective.
Remember Jean Claude Van Damn’s epic split between two moving Volvo trucks (below) that rocked the internet back in 2012? So… there is no rule why your online marketing video cannot become a viral sensation.
So… if you are looking to maximize the impact and ROI of your online video marketing campaign DO NOT think in terms of “viral”. In the future make sure that your video marketing campaign is geared towards accomplishing four key things: (1) Inform (2) Educate (3) Entertain your online audience (4) in as little time as you can.
Every business cannot yield the same benefit from online video or an online video marketing campaign. Read more about this on – Why Video Is Not For Every Business. And If you want to build your brand using online video check out Top 10 Brand Building Strategies Using Online Video Marketing 2016.