May 31, 2012

The Viral Factory

Oh my gosh, what a hectic work week but despite that let's get to it. I took an extended weekend so don't hate me for that. Let's get into it shall we?

There's a video doing this rounds at the moment created by The Viral Factory for Diesel (that should be enough information for you to google it) that's piqued my interest in this company. They've touted themselves as a social video agency and on their wiki page a full service viral marketing agency. After clicking around I was surprised to learn that they were the geniuses behind this brilliant Westfield campaign, which I watched at least 5 times despite not living even remotely close to London.

As well as the HUGELY popular Skype Laughter Chain.

Now simply naming yourself The Viral Factory raises eyebrows. Obviously you'd want to be able to deliver on that promise and it seems that The Viral Factory have got a firm grip on the dynamic nature of what makes a video go viral, but what makes a video go viral? This is a fundamental question that not many can answer and that's probably because each viral video is so different.

In researching this little post, I came across thousands of articles and even research papers (I read the abstract and if you've got time definitely give the paper a once over) which makes it painfully clear that this concept has been done to death and there's still no definite answer. However this article by Stephanie Buck gets a pretty good run down from Beau Lewis of creative agency Seedwell. Lewise identifies three common factors among viral videos.
"Theme: Most “viral videos” fit into one of three thematic categories: 1) parody of something popular and timely, 2) cute as hell, and 3) did that just happen? (It usually didn’t.)

Structure: There’s a compelling case for a progression that starts by surprising the viewer, avoids interjecting much advertising, and takes the viewer on an emotional roller coaster. Viewers’ screen time may be going up, but attention span appears to be going down, which means that the video needs to repeatedly earn the viewer throughout its duration.

Tastemakers: Almost all viral videos get their legs after being discovered by tastemakers and digital influencers. These are celebrities with built-in audiences the size of cable channels. Kevin Allocca gives a good TED talk on the subject, and the Kony 2012 video was perhaps the best example of engineering it to date."
The aforementioned Kevin Allocca does indeed give a great TED talk on viral videos and the ingredients he defines of a viral video overlap with those of Lewis'. Allocca credits, tastemakers, communities of participation and unexpectedness. So let's takes Westfield's 100 years of style as a little case study shall we? And because we're all short on time let's dot point it.

Theme/Uniqueness- Style Progression through Music and Dance. What a winning concept. The marjority of Youtube's Most Viewed videos are in fact Music Videos so we're off to a flying start here AND backtracking, the title itself is a drawcard. To see 100 years of style trends in 100 seconds? That's a challenge that people were intrigued to see. Need more proof? Evolution of Dance. Yep. Ya Burned!

Structure/Communities of Participation- It's pretty damn cool to see the change in clothing style and dance. You could probably take it a step further and take a look at how the clothes affected the dance or vice versa. Either way the story has a beginning (The 1910's), a middle (...self explanatory), and an end (today! wee!). Ba-Da-Bing Ba-Da-Bum!

Tastemakers- Youtube sites the Boing Boing as it's "As Seen On" but the video was also featured on Forbes resulting in 194 FB shares, 38 retweets, and 21 LinkedIn share (who shares on LI?). As well as The Guardian (188 FB shares and 117 retweets) and Buzzfeed (1000 FB shares, 184 retweets, 46 +1google), just to name a few.

All in all The Viral Factory are definitely doing something right. I think the most interesting thing for me is that, I've seen and shared so many of their videos and not realised that they were ads. In marketing terms, that's got to be a good thing. They've got a hold of my subconscious mind. In terms of being an active consumer... that's kind of scary... Keep an eye out for these guys cos they'll get you.

Oh and for the TL;DR crowd, here's Kevin Allocca's TED talk. You love a good TED Talk.

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