The latest push in online marketing is viral video marketing, but how does this method stack up against more conventional advertising for publicity, branding, and return on investment (ROI)? The best place to start is to define viral video marketing, and then discuss various methods and results.
Viral video marketing is a method of advertisement that uses a short video clip to attract attention and pass a message, usually brand recognition, through display on various online social networking sites such as You-tube or Google Video. If the video is popular enough it can go “viral” by being passed around by viewers through email , blogs, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and other social sites, as well as through word of mouth, spreading outward in epidemic proportions.
Several factors have played into the widespread use of viral video marketing, such as the increase in broadband connections to the internet, and the rise in popularity of social networking sites. It is estimated that fully 50% of the homes in the US, and 80% to 90% of businesses, have a high-speed broadband connection to the internet, making it possible for a large majority of the people online to conveniently view video and other streaming media. This concept would have failed even just a few years ago when dial up was the primary connection and email ruled electronic communication.
The rise in social sites for personal and business communication has been exponential in recent years. Now you can download and view video or post to Twitter or Facebook from your cell phone, removing the restriction of needing a computer for using online social sites. This makes viral video marketing even more effective by making it easier for people to pass along a video or even a text stating “you have to see this one”. Once the word starts going around, the viral process takes on a life of its own, and the effect can continue indefinitely.
How effective viral video marketing can be for your business depends on what you are intending as your outcome. If your goal is basic brand recognition, then it can be very effective. A low cost initial investment and some work to get the ball rolling, and it is very possible for your brand to be seen by hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people, with no further work or investment on your part. For branding your business, viral video marketing can bring a very high return on your investment and give you more exposure for your advertising dollar.
It is possible to use viral video marketing for sales conversions, by using an informational pre-sales type of video, but unless the video conveys highly desired information, or is sufficiently shocking or controversial, the odds of going viral are not as good. Using this method with the intention of immediate return on investment in the form of sales conversions is less likely to give you the results you are after than if your intention is publicity and branding, which are essential for long term results.
Branding your business using viral video marketing can be a very cost effective method with results that can extend over a long period of time. There are no guarantees, and very limited control over initiating viral distribution, but when combined with a winning video and other, more conventional forms of marketing, viral video marketing can definitely produce results on your bottom line.