The Implications of Virality in Digital Marketing

What makes a video viral and another not? It all does seem random doesn’t it? This post will talk about the aspects of virality and the potential repercussions of a viral marketing video.

According to Kevin Allocca, there are three ingredients for virality namely tastemakers, communities of participation and unexpectedness

1. Tastemakers

The chart below taken from a Ted Talk Kevin Allocca shows the views per day for the double rainbow video.

It shows that the double rainbow video did not go viral until Jimmy Kimmel, a ‘tastemaker’ tweeted about it and shared it to all his followers who in turn shared them to their peers. This chain effect resulted in the video gaining millions of views in a few days.

2. Communities of participation

Friday Music Video

I am sure that virtually everyone knows this song. After the “Friday” music video was shared by tastemakers such as Michael J. Nelson and Tosh.0, the it took off, garnering 1.2 million views in 2 days. Numerous parodies of Friday started to be created by people and within days there was a parody for every other day of the week. This promoted the original video’s sharability with other people, increasing the hits it got.

3. Unexpectedness

A protest for the ticket he got for not cycling in the bike lane
Fast forward to 1.15 to skip the intro

This video has, to the date of this post, 22 million hits on YouTube. By using an unique and unexpected way of protest, Casey Neistat managed to make his video viral. According to smarp, one of the main reasons people want to share content is to bring enlightening and entertaining content to others.

Is there such a things as “too viral” though? Some may argue that a marketing video that becomes shared too much might lose the video’s original intended meaning. In this information age where everyone has an opinion about something, marketing videos that are too viral might backfire and cause public relations issues and what not.

Hyundai advertisement

An example would be Hyundai’s advertisement depicting their cars having fewer emissions than other cars. Hyundai used suicide as the subject of the advertisement in the hopes of making it unique and unexpected. Suicide, however, is a sensitive subject and should not be used in marketing videos. This advertisement was pulled shortly after it was released but imagine the amount of backlash Hyundai would receive if it became viral.

Image result for viral marketing

In summary, virality is important to companies. Companies want to be seen and heard among the clutter and may try many different ways to achieve this. In doing so, however, companies should be mindful about the content they put out. In this information age, everyone can see their marketing videos. All it takes is one badly interpreted advertisement to spark the start of a PR nightmare.


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1 Comment

  1. I agree with your sentiment on the danger of badly interpreted advertisement, as virality applies not only to good ideas but bad ideas as well. But sometimes companies should not be afraid to take a stand even if it risks offending some of its customers.
    For example, Nike took a hit after releasing the Colin Kaepernick ad, but I believe they are playing a long game. What do you think?

    Please do check out my blog as well! Thanks!


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