Social Media Trends 2014 (Part Ten): Viral Video Marketing Obsession Won’t Vanish

social media trends 2014 viral video marketing network effect 1

Social Media Trends 2014: Viral Video Marketing Obsession Won’t Vanish

Still with us? Good.

Here is part eight of our 14-part Social Media Trends 2014 series and in this instalment we’re tackling an obsession which looks set to get worse in the next 12 months.

We’ll specifically look at the origins of this obsession, the problems associated with it, and why it won’t be disappearing anytime soon.

Lights, camera, action!

Trend Ten: The viral video marketing obsession will (annoyingly) continue in 2014

Viral video marketing has been a blessing and curse for the digital marketing industry.

On one hand, the viral video phenomenon has shown what can be done with good content that is published online.

On the other, it has become the end, instead of the means to an end.

Even as a ‘means’ it is fundamentally flawed and here’s why.

The origins of the viral video marketing obsession

Before tackling the viral video marketing obsession, we need to look at the origins of viral video marketing as a whole and provide a modern-day definition.

An interesting post from the Tishia Saves Time blog traces the birth of viral video marketing back to the introduction of hotmail, one of the world’s first major free email platforms.

In it, she referred to the sign off at the bottom of each email which read: “Want a free email account? Sign-up for Hotmail today!

This very simple line spread from new user to new user around the world, and gave each recipient the feeling that they had discovered something worth shouting about.

This premise behind viral video marketing is the same.

Someone watches a video. If they like it, they share it with their immediate network. A portion of that network then shares it with their extended network. And so on and so on.

Ultimately, a tipping point is reached, and a  ‘sharer’ with a big and established audience passes it on and a simultaneous explosion takes place.

Here’s a visual representation of the viral video process (also called the ‘network effect’).

Viral video marketing network effect

Now, this is a very basic and ‘pure’ description of the process.

The majority of videos that ‘go viral’ nowadays are given a boost at the start of the campaign through the use of video seeding techniques.

These techniques normally involve taking out ads and sponsored links in places where people have the highest propensity to consume and share video content.

A great example is reddit, the popular social news and entertainment website where registered users submit content in the forms of links or text posts.

Many popular videos start with the support of promoted links on reddit in hope that a chord will be struck with enough reddit users to kick-start that network effect.

Ultimately, viral videos exploded in popularity because people’s ‘votes’ could deliver a global impact that could never be achieved or afforded through traditional advertising.

Attractive, right?

But, for the one campaign that achieves this cut through, 100,000 don’t.

And, even more disturbing is that ‘impact’ and ‘cut through’ are often determined by how many views or shares are recorded.

The problems associated with the ‘viral’ video obsession

Instead of view and shares, the real focus should be on the other actions that can be triggered from video content.

Did it drive people to a website where they found out more about the company that published the video?

Did it drive people to make a donation for the charity featured in the video?

At the very least, did it encourage the viewer to subscribe to the channel the video is hosted on to reduce promotion costs in the future?

It has been shown that if the focus is on frequency instead of ad hoc campaigns, subscriber numbers will increase, thus reducing the reliance of seeding costs over time.

Social media trends 2014 viral video marketing obsession

This has been the perennial problem with online video content and the concept of the ‘viral’ video: An immediate return is paramount and the call to action element isn’t considered until after the video has been produced or it hasn’t been considered at all.

So while the awareness box has been ticked, and maybe even the interest and desire boxes, the action one hasn’t.

Next time you watch a video on YouTube, see if there is a call to action at the end. In many cases, there won’t be.

Why won’t the viral obsession disappear in 2014?

Let’s get straight to the point:

– People want to win awards

– People want to show impressive view count numbers to their bosses

– People want to say they were behind a viral video hit

– People view ‘going viral’ as a result

– People think ‘viral’ videos are the only way to maximise a channel like YouTube

While this is a very broad and possibly unfair generalisation, there is an element of truth in each of these statements.

The biggest reason why this trend is set continue in 2014

There is one more reason.

Real content marketing success, on any channel, takes time.

This is the reason why most blogs die within the first month of being launched.

You’ve got your template set up, you start posting, you post some more and then you realise only seven people have visited your blog.

That can be very disheartening.

Still, you push on for a few more weeks as you feel like you’ve created some solid content.

However, outside your friends and colleagues, you’re not achieving much traction.

You ask a colleague or consult a ‘how to’ post to see if there is a quicker way of building an audience. There isn’t.

It takes time to be trusted by the people you are trying to reach.

YouTube channels are the same.

They require patience, an appropriate content strategy, engagement with viewers via the comments function and so many other factors.

The easiest way to think about it is via the chart below.

social media trends 2014 social media areas of focus content community conversations

If all of these things are considered in equal parts, your channel has the best chance of succeeding.

While some brands and businesses have recognised and embraced this approach, the majority haven’t and it will take a considerable amount of time until we bid  farewell to the viral video marketing obsession.

Thanks for reading part 10 of the Kamber Social Media Trends 2014 series.

We’ll be back with the next edition later this week before packaging up a SlideShare and audio commentary summary in early December.

If you liked this post, and the other posts in this series, share it with your networks to see what they think.


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