Going Viral

by attackofthelines

Remember the “two chinese boys” phenomenon on YouTube? They are two best friends who had this crazy idea of lipsynching to popular songs and exaggeratedly acting out their own music video. What’s even funnier is that they have the balls to shoot the videos using webcams in different internet shops. And they bring along their own costumes.

Their videos have become so popular on the net that Pepsi gave them their big break by getting them for a commercial where they did what they do best: lipsynching and acting like they own the song.

Here in the Philippines, we have our own version of the two Chinese boys.  The first time I saw them was already on Bubble Gang. I found that they too have been internet sensations; I was just not a YouTube person (what with only a dial-up connection at home). I thought that it was just an epic editing wonder. I didn’t even stop to think that they were actually twins. When they were featured on Jessica Soho Reports (or on another GMA7 show), I realized that there were really two of  them.

They were epically funny! When I saw them on TV, they were lipsynching to Two Become One by the Spice Girls. They were just too gay!

Then there’s Lady Gagita. If anything, that’s the funniest parody of Lady Gaga I’d ever seen. Perfect make-up,perfect costumes perfect locations, perfect acting, perfect extras, perfect effects, perfect editing. I watched the video when I was in the office during my OJT. My co-intern, Bea, and I seriously ROFLMAO’d (we tried stifling our laughter but failed miserably) around our desks, garnering a curious but amused look from our boss.

The wonders of Viral Videos.

The thing about viral videos is exactly that they are ridiculously infectious. Lady Gagita’s video reached almost a hundred thousand in just a few hours. On Facebook, there were 5 links to the video in just 30 minutes. In less than a week, Lady Gagita was on 24 Oras.

So what am I getting at?

Viral videos are great tools for advertising, marketing, and even PR.

The use of viral videos is a good way to reach a lot of people other than just the use of trimedia. Companies can even fine tune their online campaign to cater to a more specific target. They can post their videos on other sites, forums, and communities that have specific interests and behaviors.

Also, putting up viral videos can be strategic in a way that netizens flock to sites that are recommended by their peers  (for example, links on Facebook posted by friends), and to those that have a lot of hits.

Furthermore, people can comment and give immediate feedback to the video. Feedback can give the company insights on what consumers want from their product, what other improvements that could be made, what their perception and image is of the product and the company, and even what they think of the advertising campaign.

With regard to PR, companies can post videos that promote a good corporate image and reputation. These videos can also serve as CSR efforts in a way that could arouse the emotions of people to contribute to the cause.

Then again, as with any communication effort, every viral video should be able to cater to its target audience. A video might be viral, but it should still find its way to those people it intends to talk to.

Now, let’s look at some campaigns.

Two years ago, Colgate launched a viral video campaign that is targeted towards Filipino YouTube-rs. They jumped on the Chinese boys hype and thought of creating a contest for people to lipsynch to the Itchyworm’s “Akin Ka Na Lang” song while of course, promoting the Colgate brand. It’s basically a lipsynching contest with huge cash prizes and other cool gadget giveaways. The videos were uploaded to colgatefreshconfidence.com, but today, the domain seems to have already expired.

I remember that a lot of young people have taken Colgate’s challenge and some of the videos I watched back then (yes, the adverts did their job of persuading me) were really funny. People have been so creative with their lipsynching (what with the costumes), it’s ridiculous. I forgot the exact video that won, but the campaign was a success with all the people that entered. What’s more is that Colgate has been able to associate its Fresh Confidence (with Cooling Crystals) brand of toothpaste with the youth and how they could have fun by using it.

Then there is Bayantel’s Lola Techie. Her name is oxymoronic in a sense that people don’t usually associate grandparents (or old people) with technology. Lola Techie showed that Lolos and Lolas are never too old enough to use the internet (and consequently, get Bayantel broadband).

Aside from the TV commercials that Bayantel launched, they also created Lola Techie’s own YouTube channel. Since Lola Techie is the coolest grandma netizen around, she should definitely have a YouTube account and profile. Her other adventures are featured on her channel, with her videos garnering more than 20,000 views each.

Bayantel targeted the Filipino family in this campaign. By using a grandparent figure, they were able to arouse that familial feeling in family members. They are encouraging families to keep in touch with each other by getting a Bayantel broadband. Besides, if Lola Techie (read: your grandma) is already on the Web, using Bayantel, shouldn’t you? (You can check out her channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/lolatechie)

Third, Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty released several videos on the Internet for the cause. One video showcased different women who are not considered beautiful by society’s standards. One woman is “too old,” another has freckles and so on. Another has visuals of different women and children (again those who do not meet society’s standards of beauty) smiling and confident with themselves and accompanied by “True Colors” as its soundtrack.

Each of the videos amassed more than a million views each. The videos are emotionally moving as they aim to raise the self-esteem of women and girls who have insecurities about their physicalities. These viral videos have somehow helped people around the world become aware of Dove’s CSR campaign and its message.

In conclusion, the power of a viral video rests on its ability to be viral. More than it being an advertising, marketing, or PR tool, it’s also a gauge of how many people the communicator has reached and a measure of how they have accepted it. While the number of hits is usually the measure of a viral video’s success, companies should also look at the video’s comments, WHO viewed it, how many actually SHARED it, and TO WHOM they shared it to. This way, they can get feedback on both their product and their campaign, and even see if they have been able to reach their target audience. At the end of the day, it is still the communication effort that is the focus.