The ROI of the Viral Grail Quest

Recently I ran across a post titled “Is Your Video A Vehicle Or A Destination?” on the ReelSEO blog, which I frequent regularly as it is, in my opinion, one of the finest resources online for following the video marketing scene. This particular post got me thinking about the lingo around video, and people’s expectations of what video should be able to do for their businesses.

The Viral Video Grail

The premise of the post is, quite rightly, that the buzz around video-for-marketing these days tends to focus on what is commonly described as “viral videos” – videos that due to their amusing, shocking, sexy, or silly nature, tend to spread from one viewer to the next via various sharing mechanisms (email, social media, collaborative bookmarking etc.), doing well with social media key performance indicators in the process.

A point worth considering is that “Silly”, “Shocking” or “Sexy” might not be right for your business – The following “Afro Ninja” video from Ebaumsworld has had over 8,000,000 views on YouTube, and while there’s no arguing that it’s a funny 18 second clip, I doubt it’s very useful for selling anything besides slapstick humor…

Is the Viral Video Quest right for your business?

It seems that too much attention many businesses, large and small alike, are giving marketing video is focused on the quest to create THE video, that singular masterpiece of shareable genius that will spread through the net like wildfire through the collaborative efforts of the enthusiastic masses. Little thought is given to the following facts:

  1. Just as with any other form of advertising – the campaign is not a goal unto itself. It’s a means to an end. A million hits on Youtube might be great, IF you can harness them to push SALES.
  2. These videos are extremely difficult to manufacture and their “viral” component is nearly impossible to predict. The sad truth is that most of the lucky mavericks fortunate enough to have created a video that “went viral” were one shot wonders who were unable to recreate their success.
  3. The investment and time spent on attempting to create a viral video will yield a much safer and more predictable ROI when allocated to enriching product listings with video.

Any knight will tell you it's nice to have a steady supply of ale while questing for The Grail

Fame – it’s a good thing.

The thing is, it’s not a goal that suits every business equally – “Too much of a good thing” applies here too…

A small or medium business doesn’t necessarily need millions of video views and is probably ill equipped to deal with the publicity Tsunami that might follow.

What your business needs is to reach targeted audiences and achieve sales conversions in a measurable and consistent fashion. The ability to then recreate this process is infinitely more precious than any singular publicity burst.

In short:

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to some occasional risk taking, and I certainly respect creativity.

If you’ve got a great idea for an easy-to-produce video that you feel has the potential of exploding online and making you rich overnight – give it a shot!
It’s worth it just for the sake of not denying yourself the joy of pursuing your dream. BUT…

Do yourself a favor and don’t focus ALL of your business’ video marketing efforts around this project – especially if you don’t have a huge budget.
The data proving the positive effect simple product videos will have on your bottom-line is readily available online. ReelSEO and others have covered this subject often.

How often have you won the lottery?

Getting your video to go Viral might be like winning the lottery.
Have you won many lotteries lately?
Why not creating content that actually sells while you wait…

Image credit: Zack Sheppard