The Key to Viral Success

Those of us in MCDM are no stranger to the fact that social media has dramatically made waves in the marketing realm. In today’s Web 2.0 world of information sharing, interoperability, user-centered design, and collaboration, the way in which brands and consumers interact follows a different model. Brands now face the challenge of creating digital material that is not only clever but clever enough for viewers to want to share the material with those in their social networks and then actually convert views into sales. So, how exactly does one go about creating something viral? According to Duncan Watts in his novel, “Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age,” there really is no one reason as to why something goes viral. Watts explains, “the network centrality of individuals, or centrality for that matter, would tell us little or nothing about the outcome, because the center emerges only as a consequence of the event itself.” In other words, events are driven not by any preexisting center but by the interaction of equals. He illustrates the answer by explaining a scenario in which a large crowd at a concert, in the midst of chaotic applause, start to clap in unison. The source, surprisingly, is not a person of influence but rather the fortuitous chance when a few people in proximity clap close to synchrony for even just a brief affair.

Though difficult to achieve, many digital marketing teams have achieved a large viewership for their content. The problem, however, then becomes whether or not the viral affect truly caused consumer engagement with the product or service. For example, though entertaining, I’m skeptical as to whether Evian’s Roller Babies’ spot actually translated into sales. Now that the viral aspect is achieved, how we translate that into revenue? In a recent AdAge article, president and founder of Feed Company Josh Warner, explains how engagement capital is the key to reaping the full marketing potential of social videos. Engagement capital is the means by which a marketer exchanges entertaining content for support or action by a user. According to Warner, the level of engagement capital available to spend with a viewer is affected by the type of video the brand creates, whether it be light branding, heavy branding, or a call-to-action. His studies reveal that lightly branded video content is shared 4x as often as heavily branded content, and as often as videos with a call-to-action component.

For further reading click here for AdAge’s “The New Economy of Viral Video and Why Engagement Matters


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