It’s late on a Thursday night. It’s been a long week. Then it happens…you have a flash of genius to create a stellar video for your company or client.

You hire a PR firm to handle your messaging and coordinate the video shoot.

Everyone shows up to the shoot on time, filming goes swimmingly and lunch for the crew even arrives on time.

The editing process is long and tedious but in the end, your CEO provides a well-deserved stamp of approval.

It’s all there. You envision hundreds of thousands passing around your video link, landing impression upon impression. Dollar signs flash before your eyes as you see yourself landing that big promotion. You’re the buzz of the social Web and are soon booking an interview to grip and grin with Matt Lauer on the Today Show, touting your social media celebrity and outright video genius.

The upload to YouTube is simple as pie and now you’re counting down to flip the switch from private to public.  3…2…1…

Flatline.

For some reason, your video is just not tracking as hoped. What happened??! It was the perfect formula for a big “viral” video! Or so you thought.

Unfortunately this scenario happens way too often.

Currently, 77% of online users are consuming online video (source: State of Online Video – TIMA Presentation).

It’s an astounding number in consideration of how far the Web has come with video sharing technology. Although the social Web has changed the way we all consume content, it has done little to shift what we find funny, amusing, cute, heartfelt or compelling.

The reality is that in the end, there is no magic formula to creating a “viral” video. What compels millions to share a particular video on their own social network or forward along to their entire email contact list is still a pretty big guessing game.

Don’t get me wrong, there are of course seeded elements that can help lay the groundwork for strong shareable video content. Check out these analysis posts for a bit of insight (The 7 Elements of a Viral Video Campaign, 20 Winning Elements of a Viral Campaign, The 4 Elements of Getting Videos to Go Viral). However, without compelling content, a short video length, optimization and a baseline core launch audience, any video is going to struggle to pass a few thousand views.

____________________________________

Earlier this week, a colleague sent along this video below by Raritan Bay Medical Center promoting the awareness and dangers of heart disease and stroke to women. The email forwarded to me noted that the organization was aiming to reach 1 million views by Friday, February 5. Lofty goals for any video, but I decided to take a look.

Let me start by saying the analysis below is simply my feedback and insight. Awareness is awareness on any level and in that sense, kudos across the board to RBMC. This is merely my take on how this effort could be elevated.

To Raritan’s credit, the video obviously pushes a very important issue and is shot nicely. Raritan is also very forward about the fact that they were inspired by the infamous Pink Glove Dance video which did quickly earn its keep in the “Viral Video Hall of Fame” (the video is now at 6.5+ million views by the way…mindblowing).

So, what’s the deal? Why is Raritan’s video hovering around a few thousand views as of today?

For baseline analysis and learning purposes, let’s breakdown a few reasons why this video is struggling:

1. Creativity – Unfortunately, the “let’s get our organization to dance to popular songs in support of a cause” card has been played. Not being crass here, it’s just the fact of the matter. Providence St. Vincent Medical Center got there first. Unless there is an incredible spoof reaction video to match a viral video response, it’s tough to repurpose a similar idea and expect similar results. And let’s be honest, no on in their right mind is going to spoof breast cancer awareness anytime soon…or they better not.

2. Length – RBMC’s video clocks in at 7 minutes with 5+ minutes being devoted to dancing. Numerous studies show that viewer engagement with video content typically drops after about 30 seconds. If you’re going to even consider going over 2 minutes with a video, it better be good…real good and 100% engaging throughout or directed at a very specific audience.

3. Optimization – Take a look at the video title differences. “Pink Glove Dance”  versus “Go Red & Dance at Raritan Bay Medical Center.” “Pink Glove Dance” is intriguing and slightly mysterious. You’ve got to pull a potential viewer in and pique interest to get them to press the play button. You can’t give everything away at once in a title.

In addition, “Pink Glove Dance” is simple and easy to communicate. “Have you seen the Pink Glove Dance video?” rolls right off the tongue. In addition, Raritan includes no tags on their video relevant to the cause (heart disease, stroke, etc.). Alongside the title, those tags are all Google has to juice your content out to relevant search terms.

Furthermore, the video is hosted on a brand new channel – http://www.youtube.com/user/TheGmancini. With no subscribers, friends or other resources to use as a jumpstart, the video is sitting on loose gravel. Hopefully, Raritan will jump over and sign up for YouTube’s excellent nonprofit program to host this video (not to mention add a nice call-to-action with the overlay feature provided in the nonprofit program) and any additional video content. I would also hope they consider embedding the video on the homepage of their site and pumping out a tailored e-news with the video embedded that asks subscribers to share as well.

It is of course important to consider Raritan’s goals. If this video was simply intended to engage employees and create a fun video, great. But, if the expectations are to create a key piece of marketing content that will serve as a long-tail traffic generator for their site, that’s another thing. I will also add that this video is all of two days old. I’m well aware that I may be biting my tongue a week later when this thing starts its own wildfire.

The big lesson here is that viral is rarely purposely generated and rather simply evolves when we least expect it. The best we can all do is to continue to learn from key case studies and work to take a proactive approach to capturing share-worthy content.

-Scott

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Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. […] this month, I highlighted a video that struggled to crack the “viral” code. There are of course a lot of different […]

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About Scott Meis

SVP, Digital Content Strategy @ Weber Shandwick Seattle. Outdoors. Adventure. Travel. I dig the Foto.

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Social Media, Social Media Case Study, Video

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