Many people in business today suffer from a common condition known as VVM — “Viral Video Mentality.” They see an interesting video online with a huge amount of views and buzz, and become compelled to make it their model.
With so many videos today “going viral,” how hard could it really be to duplicate that great success? The problem with this mentality is not only is it naïve, but it can cause companies to become fixated on superficial things at the expense of relationship building, servicing customers, sales, and the overall bottom line.
How to Tell if You Have “Viral Video Mentality”
Many businesses and professionals stricken with VVM exhibit the following symptoms:
- A chronic compulsion to ask speakers at marketing conferences, “How do I make a viral video?”
- A failure to demonstrate an understanding of, or point to a direct relationship with, actual business objectives.
- Easily distracted from common business sense that applies to other marketing activities, including setting up ROI goals or other tangible objectives, and demonstrating connections around their video.
YouTube Superstar Orabrush Says “Screw Viral Videos!”
Orabrush is the model of a small company that’s achieved great success with a YouTube channel and social video marketing. It’s sold well over a million units of its tongue cleaner and tongue foam, is the third most subscribed brand channel on YouTube with over 47 million channel views, has signed major deals with big box stores, and was selected as a 2012 Webby Award Official Honoree for its “continued efforts and achievements in social media marketing.”
A company with that kind of success must be a big proponent of viral video marketing, right? Nope. For the past year, Orabrush’s speakers at marketing conferences have turned heads with a provocatively titled presentation, “Screw Viral Videos.”
“Usually the most common question we get from the audience is, “How do I make a viral video?” says Jeff Harmon, Orabrush’s chief marketing officer. “Right away they want to know, ’How do I get the silver bullet?’ They want an easy route. They want an easy way to get there. What people need to understand that there is no formula to making a viral video, especially not for most people who don’t have huge pockets.”
Harmon uses the Moneyball analogy when it comes to social video marketing: You don’t always swing for the fences.
“Most of the time you just need to get to first base. You load up the bases, and if you do happen to hit a homerun, then all your bases empty out and you cash out way bigger than just hitting a homerun right in the beginning in the first place.”
But what about all those views? A person suffering from VVM fails to realize that video views don’t equal success. Neither do shares or likes, since what people may be liking isn’t necessarily a reflection on the product or the brand.
A Cure for Viral Video Mentality: Social Video ROI
Measuring return on investment (ROI) with video in a social space, especially when most activity doesn’t turn into direct transactions, is certainly a challenge for brands. It’s essential to have clearly defined business goals around online videos that can demonstrate quantifiable value — whether that’s economic or social — which cover the needs for the business to be engaging, profitable, and sustainable.
Orabrush’s approach is to create performance goals around two different types of video strategies: conversions and engagement.
Conversion videos have a direct marketing approach. For Orabrush, they are similar to entertaining, short-form infomercials. Success is measured in actual sales.
“I guess you could also call it an edutainment video, or infotainment-mercial, but they are meant to convert,” says Harmon. “They educate people, teach them about our story, and show our personality. They also have a clear call-to-action for a purchase to be made. They’re really focused around ROI, meaning if they don’t get a positive ROI, they’re a fail, and the whole project was a fail or at least, we break even.”
Engagement videos are meant to build social connections with the viewer. Orabrush’s engagement videos start new conversations, bring people back, get them to subscribe, or endear them to their brand.
“Our engagement videos are more for existing customers. They exist to buy “mind share” with our viewers. The goal is to get our viewers to interact with our brand more, and to understand our culture and our story,” says Harmon.
Any time Orabrush is doing engagement videos, it focuses on what’s trending. For conversion videos, it’s not as focused on trends because it wants videos that can be used for years and years.
Social Video Marketing Tip: Have different ROI expectations for different kinds of videos (and video strategies)
Have a Financial ROI Plan: For Orabrush’s conversion videos, ROI is directly equated to sales.
Have a Social ROI Plan: On its engagement videos, Orabrush equates social video ROI to various levels of engagement. It follows word-of-mouth chatter and patterns in both new and existing customers, along with influence in other groups, such as fans, followers, the media, and prospects.
“We’ll track which video got more subscribers, likes, comments, or more overall engagement. When we measure videos this way, we’re paying attention to trends. We don’t try to measure how many sales return from it,” says Harmon.
Some videos Orabrush posted to its Facebook page have been an excellent catalyst for gaining customer/fan/follower feedback, which it’s used to dream up new concepts for future videos.
Orabrush is not just the cure for bad breadth — it’s also the cure for Viral Video Mentality. Follow its examples and you’ll appreciate that successful video marketing is about genuine engagement, relationship-building, and customer care.