Not everyone can go viral like “Grumpy Cat”

You’ve seen them.  Those short little videos that end up in your Facebook newsfeed, on your Twitter or that pop up in your emails daily.  From the Harlem Shake to Grumpy Cat, viral videos have become a staple of workday surfing and something called “friendsharing”.

They have millions of views and have elevated ordinary folks into stardom (think “the Bieb” and the guy who did “Gangnam Style“).  It’s tempting to think that just about anyone can create a viral video, and in theory, anyone can.  But in reality, creating a video that racks up millions of hits is, particularly for your business, is very, very, VERY hard.

An Essential Element:

The irony is, your business NEEDS to utilize video, especially on your social media platforms, in order to gain followers, friends and potential customers.

It’s just a simple fact of social media:  You need visuals and video to raise your profile online.

This is where the viral video curse comes into play.  Too often businesses believe they can create a viral video that will instantly make their company an internet hit.  The problem is, it’s nearly impossible to consciously create a video that goes viral.

However, you CAN create a video that attracts viewers, hits your target demographic and effectively promotes your business.

Don’t Try Too Hard:

The internet graveyard is littered with examples of companies that tried too hard to create a viral video, or reach a particular demographic.  Pepsi comes to mind, Coors tried it with their “Code Blue” campaign and Cheetos struck out with their recent “Orange Underground” effort. (click link to see example).  So, even the big boys find it nearly impossible to do.

For your business, however, the first thing to do is remove the idea of creating a viral video in the first place.  Instead, focus on creating a video that is interesting and actually says something about your business.

Let’s start with the basics of creating an online video for your company:

1.  Keep it short – Anything over a minute is less likely to be viewed by the general public.  Don’t use two minutes to say what you can say in :45 seconds.
2.  Don’t TRY to be funny – Humor is subjective.  What’s funny to you might be offensive to someone else.  You don’t want to anger potential customers.
3.  Have a clear message – Don’t let your efforts at humor or viral fame get in the way of telling your viewers what you want to say about your business.
4.  Reflect your personality – If you’re a fun, whimsical restaurant, you probably don’t want your video to be stuffy or stiff.  Show your businesses’ personality in your video.
5.  Don’t scrimp on the details – The worst thing you can do is have awful lighting, bad sound and subpar editing.  It doesn’t have to look like George Lucas directed it, but it also shouldn’t look like a middle school art project.

Two other items you should keep in mind.  For those who are Denver natives, you’ll remember the old Jake Jabs American Furniture Warehouse ads.  I bring this up because one of the staples of viral videos is the use of cute cats, puppies and other assorted animals to attract interest.

You can attempt to use animals in your videos, but remember a few things if this is the way you choose to go.  First, animals are very hard to work with.  Second, using cute animals might look like you’re trying too hard to go viral.  Third, a cute animal might take away from the message you’re trying to deliver.

One last thing.  When you make your video think in terms of volume.  In other words, don’t make just one video, make several.  A single video can be posted and get a ton of hits, but in a short time, people move on and it is forgotten.  If you have seven or even ten short videos, you can constantly post the videos to your Facebook and Twitter feeds and keep people interested and looking forward to new videos.  You don’t have to try and tell a story, just make your videos interesting and informative and you’ll be fine; just have a lot of them.

Again, producing a viral video is nearly impossible because the best ones happen by accident.  Instead make your videos fun (not necessarily funny), watchable, have a message and keep it short and you’ll be able to post videos that will be effective enough to catch the attention of potential customers while allowing your current customers a chance to share something that will draw more attention to your business.  And that is just as valuable to your business than any viral video will ever be.

At The Stasko Agency, we’re big believers in retail therapy. So, when Activate Brands asked to partner with them to raise awareness about an innovative company that helps retailers sell their wares through interactive videos, we jumped at the chance. 

The company, Greenwood Village-based VideoBloom, was one of two local businesses exhibiting last month at the Annual Summit, a networking and education event where retailers learn about the hottest digital trends. More than 4,000 big-name retailers attended the event (held in Denver this year), including H&M, Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus.

 Established in 2007, VideoBloom not only produces videos for clients such as Proctor & Gamble, but also provides retailers with video commerce capabilities that can be easily integrated into their websites, allowing consumers to click on a product in a video and add it to their virtual shopping carts.  The company also helps retailers distribute their videos to the right social media channels – generating buzz and sales.   

With VideoBloom’s creative approach to online retail we had no problem capturing the attention of 9News, which featured the company’s Chairman Antoine Toffa on its broadcast the morning kicked off and the Denver Business Journal’s Dennis Huspeni, who featured Toffa in his blog from the convention.

If you’d like to learn more about VideoBloom and all the company offers, click here.

In a world where “social media” is at every turn, it can be hard to gain perspective on the who, what, when, why, how, and how often of this powerful business tool. Luckily, there are people who not only “get by,” but excel in building successful media campaigns, and we’ve had the opportunity to watch and learn from these experts to help boost our PR strategies.

The Stasko Agency recently had the pleasure of sitting down with THE LinkedIn Rockstar, Mike O’Neil. Mike is a social media expert and the author of his very own LinkedIn-related book, Rock the World with your Online Presence: Your Backstage Pass to a Multi-Platinum LinkedIn Profile. With over 1,000 concerts under his belt and 10,000 hours of LinkedIn and social media experience, it’s no wonder how Mike earned his title.

Mike ranks 27th in all of LinkedIn for his number of connections, which is over 25,000. (Note: the max is 30,000). His partner, Lori Ruff, ranks 9th of all women on LinkedIn. And each have 30k + followers on twitter as well.

Realizing a growing need for social media done right, Mike and Lori are spreading the love by teaching eager learners how to build their profile, grow their network and connect with the right people.

In fact, the dynamic duo has an event coming up on March 10th that still has some spots open. If you know that building your social media presence is something you need to do, but don’t know where to start: this is it.

Social Media Experts Mike O’Neil and Lori Ruff offer a Linkedin Training Clinic on Creating your own Multi-Platinum LinkedIn Profile.

Wednesday, Mar 10, 2010, 9:30AM to 12:00PM

Where:, 1391 Speer Blvd, Suite 850, Denver CO 80207

Cost: $89 includes autographed book! (Tip: use the discount code “rockstar” to receive $20 off) This is fantastic value for what you will be receiving.

Registration: 9:10AM – 9:30AM

Hands-On Clinic: 9:30 – Noon

“Hands-On” means you’ll actually get time during the seminar to implement the tools and suggestions you’re given in the training to build your profile then and there. Bring your Laptop!

In the meantime, take some time to connect with Mike and Lori online to see what they are doing and how they are building their networks.

Facebook: Mike O’Neil Facebook Fan Page

Twitter: @MikeONeilDenver @loriruff

LinkedIn: Search for Mike O’Neil or Lori Ruff