Want a Viral Hit? Try a Little Subtlety

Viral videos are undoubtedly one of the most powerful marketing tools of our time. Doubtful?  Does “Old Spice” ring any bells? Marketing company Wieden+Kennedy may not have expected the kind of attention that the videos received but their sheer stroke of genius definitely worked in their favor. The marketing company used viewers themselves to generate interest for the video and help it go viral.

A more recent incident involves two very important props: an iPhone 4 and the screen at Times Square in New York. Ever imagined hacking into the system and displaying your own video at Times Square? A recent video that went viral over the course of a few hours showed a guy using his iPhone 4 and basic technology in order to display video from his phone onto the screen. Within 48 hours this video generated more than 800,000 views and was mentioned over several websites and blogs. YouTube is one of the most actively viewed video sites on the internet.  So, what makes this video special as compared to the countless others? On close inspection of the video viewers would notice that the hacker actually plays the trailer of the new movie ‘Limitless’ on the screen and this is actually a viral marketing campaign for the film itself which is about a man who is able to use all of his brain capacity after taking a pill.

Subtlety is the key when it comes to creating highly effective viral videos which users will readily share without considering them to be desperate marketing attempts.  Although the ‘Limitless’ video was definitely subtle in its approach, it did not serve the purpose for which it was created. The key trick here is to strike a balance between subtlety and product awareness. It is ok if the video is raw; in fact it is advised to have a raw video to give it a natural, non-commercial look. The mark of a true viral video is that once it is let out into the social media space it does not require any push from the marketers. The content of the video is what should take it ahead and as a result promote the product.

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