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From time to time, we get calls at HMA World Headquarters asking us to make a “viral video.”

Generally, this is my cue to hold myself back from an eye roll and condescending tone.

Why?

Look people, here is the thing. I – you – we – even Abbie and Scott – cannot simply MAKE something go viral. By definition, a viral video is one that gets popular by being…well…popular. A viral video is one that is shared over and over and over. With the exception of Funny or Die, who have A-list celebs and comedy writers helping them, no one business or person wields enough power to simply make a "viral video."

Case in point – here are the top 10 most shared videos of 2011, courtesy of PR Daily. (I refuse to watch that dog at the funeral ever again – my heart can’t take it!)

Notice how NONE of them are from a business?

Or about one business?

Or have major marketing messages?

At HMA, we are happy to help make creative, funny, smart videos – promotional and otherwise. At HMA, we are happy to draft content with the goal of attracting views from the community-at-large. And, at HMA, we will NEVER tell a client we will make a “viral video,” because they don’t exist.

To clarify – there is no such thing as a viral video. There is such a thing as videos GOING viral.

Discuss.

Alison Bailin
Alison Bailin
Senior Account Executive Alison has a lot to say…about pretty much everything...all the time. From the current state of public relations to the social media impact on Shark Week to crisis communications in the sports world, Alison’s blogs are focused on “amusing through her PR musings,” and then some. Check out Alison's full bio

9 Comments

  1. Alison Bailin says:

    I will add to this, however, that good writers and communications teams can help include features that increase the chance of “virality” such as those in the handy, dandy graphic of humor, helpfulness, conversational tone, informality, uniqueness and oddity…

  2. Videos not-made-for-TV have certainly found a home. Like any of the digital media, there are always risks, especially if you, or a client, is on the wrong end of a video that you do not have control over. All the more reason to be in the game rather than on the sidelines just waiting for your name to be called.

  3. A good virus vs. a bad (computer) virus. In this case, it would be good for a video to catch a virus, thus becoming viral…

  4. Alison Bailin says:

    Some great comments from Facebook on this:

    Michelle Talsma Everson Totally agree!

    Heather Schader I think we hear “make my video viral” every few weeks from clients!

    Deb Krol If I had the key to making videos or blogs go viral, I’d be a very rich woman — sigh.

  5. Aaron says:

    Alison, I agree. All good points. There are things you can do to help make the video go viral. We have pitched “good”, “natural” video content out to key bloggers – and, as a result, the video has gone viral. I emphasize “good” and “natural” because it has to be a compelling video without much marketing speak.

  6. And here I thought there was a “go viral” button out there — too bad.

  7. Stephanie Lough says:

    We should make a video of this and make it go viral. =P

  8. Alison Bailin says:

    More great comments from Facebook Fans:

    Scott Hanson Expectation management can be tricky.

    Ashleigh Allen Completely agree! There is no formula for causing a video to go viral.

    Abbie S. Fink You mean there’s not a “go viral” button? Darn it.

    Wendy Kenney What does “snarky” mean? 🙂

    Nat Handler Farewell to snarky!!! I totally agree…right on the money Alison.

  9. Stephanie Lough says:

    When does something official go viral? How many people need to have watched or shared the video for it to be viral?

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