As you've probably noticed, an online movement is beginning to democratize television and video. New online video sites are offering millions of user-created video clips that are entertaining and viral. Ian Hardy of the BBC calls the growth of online video "the viral video revolution." As more people turn away from the television and look online for news, online video has rapidly grown. David Moore, from Getdemocracy.com interprets the trend: "I think what's happening is that there's a genuine movement where TV and video is shifting from a top-down medium, to a medium that's entirely from the bottom up, where everyone is able to, say, create a local news channel, or to publish video of their family reunion online easily." Some of these new clips have proven to be extremely impactful. After the recent US immigration day strike, video clips from throughout the United States flooded in to and were posted at Getdemocracy.com.
In "How To Create an Unstoppable, Never-Ending Marketing Virus," David Frey explains how LiveVault was able to create a huge splash in launching two new products because of its use of viral video marketing. LiveVault created a low budget movie that took a humorous approach to showing IT people (their target audience) the difficulties with tape backup versus LiveVault's new online digital backup services. LiveVault posted the video online, took out a few ads, and sent out a blast email. This marketing campaign yielded huge returns: the video has been seen by over 300,000 people and received attention from the press. Frey also discusses the success experienced by Morgan Westerman, who developed "The Interview with God" using public domain information. Westerman's movie has been viewed by millions of people, and he was able to capitalize on its success by turning it into a million dollar business.
Viral marketing strategies are nothing new, but the internet has made viral marketing easier and cheaper. How can a marketing strategy become viral? Frey concludes that a viral marketing agent must be "buzz worthy," which motivates others to pass it on, and have a "pass around mechanism" that will allow it to be passed on easily. In order to be buzz worthy, a video or email must be unique and tap into fundamental human emotions. Humor, inspiration, and shock are three characteristics that can generate buzz and help people connect with a video or email.
Sites like Youtube.com provide arenas where huge numbers of people can view user-posted videos: Over 40 million original clips and videos have been uploaded by users and the site gets 25 million hits per day. With such a large audience in one place, videos can easily become viral if they create a buzz on the site. Similarly, Care2's News Network allows members to submit video content, such as this video on non-violent resistance, and provides a forum where it can easily be seen and passed around. MoveOn took advantage of Youtube for their viral "Bush in 30 Seconds" campaign, a political advertising contest that allowed people to submit their own 30-second ads that were judged by a panel of celebrities and political experts. The campaign was created by MoveOn to try to make the political process more accessible to ordinary Americans. The videos were a resounding success; over 1,000 videos were posted and more than 2.9 million viewer ad ratings were submitted to www.bushin30seconds.org. The contest's winner, "Child's Pay," was then run nationwide on broadcast TV in accordance with President Bush's State of the Union Address on January 20.
What does this mean for non-profits? It means that you don't have to spend a lot to reach a large audience, especially if you are able to create "buzz worthy" campaigns that can be passed around quickly and easily.
To learn more about creating viral videos, check out guestblogger Ralf Beuker's post.