Viral, baby! What it is, and how to get there.

Viral, baby.

What is it?

It’s replayability, it’s brandability, it’s sharability.

It’s this 2 min. video for Guaraná Antartica, a popular Brazilian soft drink…

God help me, I love this so! It’s so elegantly funny, so well crafted, so subtle, so multi-layered (Did you catch the background lyrics? Did you catch the guy’s shameless French/Portuguese?). It’s a little gem, made by DM9DDB in Sao Paulo.

It’s so good, that I go ahead and watch it more than once. And I notice new things the second time around, including the sponsoring brand and its role within the video. I notice the little details that slipped by the first time but now make it even funnier, make me even more impressed.

It’s so good, that I feel good towards that brand that made this happen. It makes me look at it in a new light. Younger, funnier, hipper. Like that person that people want to be with at a party. Once the video is so entertaining, once you get so much from it, basic human fairness compels you to seek out the “sponsor”. You’re driven to reward them with your attention. A tit for a tat.

It’s so good, in fact, that I can’t just keep it to myself. I want to share on twitter and Facebook so everyone can enjoy the awesomeness. That’s the altruistic part. And then there’s the selfish part: you want to share it so friends can laugh along and think, “ha, ha, Martin sure posts some funny videos”. What you post says much about you, and if you’re lucky, your own “brand” is amplified. Everybody wins.

How do you get there?

Well, you don’t make viral. Viral happens.

But…you can help the chances of producing something that will go viral. How?

  1. Do excellent, excellent work. Sounds obvious, but really good is not even enough. Go for broke. You know in your gut when something is good and when something is absolutely superb. Only superb, jaw-droppingly awesome branded ads will go viral.
  2. Be irreverently funny. I’d bet 8 out of 10 viral ads use humor. Humor is always in demand, and sharing humor makes people funnier. (if sharing something made people sexier, now that would be the ultimate, but it doesn’t work that way…)
  3. Plant it. Push it. Get it out there. Even the best work needs to be seeded to have a chance.
  4. Go easy on the branding. In regular advertising, branding is key (because most advertising is mediocre). A viral video, by definition, is awesome, so you don’t need to push the branding…people will seek it out and acknowledge it, they will reciprocate with their attention and admiration. In fact, if you push the branding, chances are you’ll kill the spark, kill the awesomeness, and then you’ll have a well branded, non viral video (not the end of the world…but not what we’re talking about).
  5. Don’t try too hard. It’s like dating. People can smell your desperation. Be cool, man! Don’t push the branding (just brand it and move on), don’t push the humor (just be funny and move on), don’t push anything (just get it out there and move on). Just be cool! It’s like high school all over again. That’s why it’s not easy!

That’s viral, baby!

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8 thoughts on “Viral, baby! What it is, and how to get there.

  1. Another excellent post Martin! Been following you on my Google Reader and I love your posts.
    And i fully agree as much as we can improve our chances of making a viral, its not always guaranteed success.

    Looking forward to the next post!

    • Thank you amosyeo, comments such as yours are really gratifying!

      As far as the viral thing, it’s not that we can’t always guarantee success. It’s more like we can almost guarantee it won’t work (in the full-blown viral sense of the word).

      That’s why it’s so important to push for excellent, excellent work. Because excellent work that doesn’t go viral is still excellent and there are many things you can do with it. Mediocre “viral” work that doesn’t go viral is the same as having nothing.

      You’ll note I recommend to not push the humor, not push the branding, not push the “trying too hard”…but definitely to push the work. That, I think, gives you the best odds.

      Hope to see you around the blog. Cheers!

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  6. Superb website you have here but I was curious about if you knew of any discussion boards that cover
    the same topics talked about here? I’d really love to be a part
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    If you have any recommendations, please let me know. Many
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  7. I was wondering if you ever considered changing the page
    layout of your website? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say.
    But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better.
    Youve got an awful lot of text for only having 1 or two images.

    Maybe you could space it out better?

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