Want to make a digital strategist bang his or her head against a wall for an hour (or two…or three) straight?

Ask them to make you a “viral video”…

We all know that starting with an end goal of creating a viral video is a lofty, typically unrealistic goal. I’ve tried hard to keep the word “viral” out of the vocabulary of any agency where I’ve worked. Is it to say that making a viral video isn’t possible? Absolutely not. Should it be something you sell in to clients? For your sake and sanity, I hope not.

Want to know what does work when you’re trying to gain groundswell video traction?

A solid plan of attack that focuses on the right creative content/call to action, targeted to the right audience and delivered at the right time. Put that combination together, activate the power of smart distribution and social syndication and you’ve taken solid steps towards building views and engagement.

Jennifer Anniston’s Smart water video is a great example – the brand turned the notion of a “viral video” on it’s head earlier this year by purposely creating a video that incorporates elements of other videos that have lit up millions of views on YouTube. Creative use of a celebrity that matches the brand’s target demographic positioned around a recent flood of bizarre YouTube sensations. Perfect.

Though there are certainly plenty of tips and learnings floating around about the best way to create a viral video, step one is to focus on what exactly you’re trying to achieve in the first place and to clearly identify the audience you’re hoping to engage. Get back to basics, remove the pressure of delivering “viral” results and allow the creative floodgates to churn up an idea that will resonate and have a solid shot at driving word of mouth.

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About Scott Meis

VP, Digital and Social Strategies for @wsseattle. I develop and execute online marketing campaigns for a variety of nonprofit, corporate and government clients. I thrive on creative content, communities and actionable results.

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Video

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