If you’ve spent any time on the Internet, you’ve seen viral videos. Here’s what they can teach you about good business and marketing.
The promotional marketers behind the movie remake Carrie are surely dancing with glee as their telekinesis prank in a New York coffee shop went straight to viral heaven.
Called “Telekinesis Coffee Shop Surprise,” the video shows a hipster coffee shop on a normal morning turning scary when one patron appears to lift another into the air, and then moves tables, books and chairs with her screams.
Every promotional and marketing blog will give you advice on how to replicate this campaign’s success. There will be top 10 lists on capitalizing on the “coffee shop surprise” momentum.
Here are five lessons you can learn from the Carrie stunt to build your brand, boost your professional profile and better your promotional marketing chops:
1. Your idea won’t be as clever — but it should be
A successful video marketing campaign begins with a good idea. Not the idea for the video, but the idea for why you’re doing the video.
When Coca-Cola marketers set out to do a video marketing campaign, they wanted to boost their new branding that equated Coke with happiness. They were trying to push a feeling, not a product, and they ended up with one of the most successful viral video marketing campaigns to date.
So, why are you doing a social marketing video? If “to go viral” is your answer, think again. (Click here to Tweet this thought.) Are you seeking to inform, educate, entertain or reward your customers? Pick one and make it the theme of your video.
2. You don’t know your customer as well as you should
It’s no doubt the makers of Carrie wanted to promote the movie. But the viral video was all about something else — getting into the psyche of their consumer. They faced the biggest marketing hurdle head on: no one believes in telekinesis.
They know moviegoers weaned on 3D, social media and PhotoShop aren’t going to buy telekinesis. They took meticulous steps to show the behind-the-scenes creation of the video. They gave viewers a look at how movie parlor tricks are done.
This doesn’t dull the appetite for the remake; it increases people’s desire to see it more, if only to repeat the experience they saw in the video. What do you know about your customers? Why do they buy your product or service? What in their psyche can you tap to translate into a marketing video?
Surveys, feedback, social media comments, product reviews — these are all ways to solicit feedback from your customers and get to know them better. Offering promotional products in exchange for feedback usually ups the response rate.
3. So what if your promotional marketing video won’t have high production value?
A decent social marketing video costs $50,000 on a good day. But your promotional marketing budget doesn’t swing that far. Ditch the video? Not necessarily.
If you’re set on doing a social marketing video, you’ll have to think creatively. The biggest cost to a video is post-production — editing, sound, music — and it’s best you don’t skimp on these.
But pre-production — casting, script, wardrobe locations — you can do on the cheap. When figuring out your video budget, make post-production a fixed cost and everything else relative. Think creatively for pre-production needs — draft your employees, their families and their houses for actors, locations and wardrobe. Use a point-and-shoot camera with autofocus, or even your mobile phone.
4. Not having reach doesn’t matter
With 46 million views and counting, the Telekinesis Coffee Shop prank is quickly spreading through the social media sphere. You can only dream about putting up those numbers. But you can increase your video’s views by following some simple tips:
- Make a video worthy of sharing.
- Promote your video through your own social networks.
- Promote your video to industry media, talent and social influencers.
5. Your video won’t go viral without this
The key to viral content is producing content that’s worth sharing. The Carrie video tapped into our emotional need to be scared and watch others get scared. That’s why horror movies make money.
Are there emotional needs surrounding your product or services? Tap into those. Create content that:
- Is authentic and meets an emotional need (in this prank’s case, fear).
- Oozes with realism (real coffee customers).
- Fits your customers’ self-perception (addressing the fakery of telekinesis).
- Triggers an emotional memory (bedtime nightmares).
- Captures memory in media (video of others getting scared).
You don’t have the money, ad agency or resources to reproduce the telekinesis viral video, but you do have the know-how. So get started.
What successes have you seen with viral content?
Matt Powers is an in-house Internet marketer with Blue Soda Promo. BSP has over 150,000 promotional products to choose from, and all can be custom-printed with your logo. He also blogs on SEO and Internet marketing on his own blog, www.matthewlpowers.com.