Thursday, June 21, 2012

No, I Don't Make Viral Videos

I was recording performers at Make Music Pasadena and a person came up to me and asked if I was recording a viral video. That surprised me. I responded, "No, I like to record videos for my blog."

"So you are not going to make money off of this?"

"Nope, I don't think so."

Actually, I'm real sure I'm not gonna make a penny. In fact, I had a memory card go bad on me and had to buy a new one so I definitely lost money last weekend.

Still, that question bothers me.

What Is A Viral Video?

It doesn't exist. Yes, I know people use the term viral video but that is a lazy short hand for a concept.

You could say that it is a video that gets popular. It is shared quickly via various communication paths such as Twitter, Facebook, blogs and friend to friend communication. It can be a news event, a performance, an ad or an inspirational video.

There is something inside of the video that causes people to be motivated to shared quickly. Very quickly.

Can You Make A Viral Video?

Intentionally, it is possible but dang hard to do. There is not a PR company or advertiser that isn't working on creating the next Old Spice Guy campaign.

Case in point, the unofficial, not sanctioned or approved by Wrigley or Skittles, the "Honeymoon" commercial. Not safe for work or thinking people. It is a proof of concept advertisement I guess.  I'm not displaying that video. You can check it out yourself.

People were talking about this ad, which is really a promotional reel by folks who want to be hired to create more commercials. Nine million plus people have seen the ad. 

What can I tell you? Sex and Skittles sells. The surprise element. The sadness I feel about the continuing coarseness of our culture? Wait, that doesn't belong here. Oops, my bad.

There have been other ads using sex and Skittles, just not at the same time. This one video lit a fuse.

My point is that you can't make a video viral. There are videos I think should be mandatory viewing because they are important in message or clever. I share them on Twitter or G+ and I can say that not a one of them has ever gone viral.

I would love it if the Richard Dreyfuss speaking at the Library of Congress video would have nine million viewers. Because I think reclaiming civic discourse is important. At this time it is up to 442 viewers so, yeah this is going to take some time to get to nine million.

What About The Money Thing?

Um, no.

Look, viral videos become popular because of the speed of transfer from one person to another. They do not have any pay per view options. You are not going to get rich in an instant. What may happen is that people that are curious about what you have to offer will check out your stuff.

Or not. I don't use Old Spice but I did view that commercial. I'm not into Skittles but a lot of people love them.

If your video does become extremely popular you need to be ready. But it may never happen.

Now if you have a per-existing relationship with an audience like Louie CK then yeah, you might cash in. Don't forget that he is a professional comedian in the business of knowing his audience. Louie CK understands about new methods of distribution and making a product that sells.

His video didn't necessarily go viral. It was the concept of him creating a movie of his performances and selling direct to the audience by allowing them to download the movie before buying it.

That is what went viral. By passing cable networks, DVD distribution and network censors and being successful at it will make people talk.

That fake Skittles ad generated word of mouth and maybe down the road someone has or will hire the company. It is just as possible that folks would exclude them as well.

In Conclusion

No I don't make viral videos. I want to get better at making a quality video. Yep. That is where I'm at.

That is where I want to be.

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