When Chuck McBride's Cutwater* and Josh Warner's Feed Company released a new viral video for Ray-Ban, Paul McEnany posted at Beyond Madison Avenue that this clip would be the next viral video sensation. That was less than a week ago, and the video has already been viewed more than a million times, favorited over six-thousand times and commented-on over six-thousand times (including dozens of video responses and user generated spoofs.) Here's the clip, if you haven't seen it:
Putting aside questions about whether this effort will really move the needle for the brand (maybe it will, maybe it won't), from a pure social media standpoint I'd say that this effort is in fact proving to be pretty successful.
Now, as anyone who has been involved with so-called viral video campaigns knows, the odds of this clip (indeed, any clip) succeeding were pretty slim. Most brand-generated viral clips fail to gain any real traction in video sharing communities like YouTube, no matter how much thought and effort a marketer or their agency puts into producing it and making sure it's seeded into the right communities.
And when a viral video fails, what typically happens? The marketer (and even sometimes their agency) checks off the "viral video" box on their list of new marketing tactics, chalks it up to experience and moves onto the next thing.
What should happen? The marketer should get back out there -- release another clip, and another, and another, and another one after that. This may sound counterintuitive, but it really is the key to viral marketing success. You can give it your all, but it is ultimately the consumer (not you) that determines success in viral marketing. You won't necessarily know what will work and, once you've figured out the formula, your intended audience may have moved onto something else. In order to trial-and-error your way to success you need to fail, not just once but over and over again until -- all of a sudden -- you don't.
You need to produce lots of content, try different things, and get them into the marketplace for reaction. And you can't get discouraged, at least not after one attempt. Viral marketing simply doesn't work the way traditional advertising and media do. In traditional advertising, you launch a campaign and expect immediate, measurable results. In viral marketing, you need to put something out there, expect nothing and keep at it until you get (well) more than nothing. That's when you'll know you're on the right track.
*As an irrelevant aside, if Cutwater has a website it isn't at the obvious www.cutwater.com, a site that claims to be the home of "Woodies on the Web." It's probably not what you think it is, but it's still pretty funny. So, um, yeah...