Viral Videos: Too Contagious to Control?

As I write this post, Rebecca Black has probably gained 100 more views on her YouTube Video, “Friday.” As you read this next sentence, she’s probably gained another 100, and so on. As with viral videos before her, like “The Evolution of Dance” and “Charlie Bit Me”, they have become classics that many will quote, sing, laugh at, and share.

Sharing is the holy grail of the social media ecosystem, and for artists, companies and brands, the viral video is a dream for promoting their brand to millions … or in Rebecca Black’s case, 54,881,694 viewers. Who wouldn’t want their brand blasted all over the Internet for millions of consumers to see? Many companies have now started to hire people solely to create these “viral videos” in hopes that they can create the magic number of millions of views.

But the problem is, viral videos are just that, too contagious to control. In the case of Rebecca Black, she created a video with no intention of it becoming viral and it is now a pop culture inside joke, with more than 90 percent of its millions of views, spewing negative feedback.

Is it possible for a company to create a viral video, before it has even gone viral? Is it too destructive to bank on this type of exposure on the Internet when it can completely dissolve the original message intended? One thing is for sure about viral videos, eyes will definitely see them … maybe even millions.

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7 Responses to Viral Videos: Too Contagious to Control?

  1. jlsteph2 says:

    I think viral videos are very interesting. They can be tricky because, like in the case of Rebecca Black, oftentimes the creator of the video didn’t intend for it to be viral. It is difficult to tell why and how viral videos become so popular. In my opinion, no one should ever make a video with the intention of it becoming viral. It is too unpredictable and intends to reach too huge of an audience. The best way for PR reps to use videos online is to create videos that are of particular interest to at least one of their target audiences.

  2. nkumarat says:

    I think it is interesting to have a position in a company to make videos viral. I guess it’s officially safe to say that we need to create jobs in the market to cater to the Internet Age. I remember hearing about the “My new haircut” YouTube video, and I had to watch it just so I would know about the “inside” jokes my friends would talk about. I think videos become viral because it is the “talk about subject” of the moment. Viral videos are a great way to get a a company name out. I think a great example of a company taking advantage of viral videos as a marketing strategy would be Old Spice.

  3. mgingeri says:

    I personally don’t think it is possible for a company to make a video viral. Viral sensations usually spin out of nowhere, usually with opposite intentions, as you noted. Like you said before, I highly doubt Charlie’s parents or Rebecca Black ever thought they were going to be overnight celebrities. So yes, I would have to say viral videos are too contagious to control.

  4. ahkline1 says:

    Rebecca Black’s Friday is the perfect example of a planned viral video. The video has everything that makes for a great Internet meme, or cultural unit that is passed from one to another through the Web. She created a song that was so bad, it was fantastic and she did it with a highly produced music video. With this video, Black has gotten more publicity that maybe any other YouTube video ever in such a brief time. I think this may be the peak of viral video because this one is every where.

  5. kdoyle3 says:

    When I think of viral videos, the phrase that usually comes to mind is “all press is good press.” In this case, it may be true for Rebecca Black. Although her song has received negative remarks — almost across the board — she was an aspiring singer with a video with more views than some Beatles’ YouTube videos. That speaks volumes. People know who she is, and in the music business sometimes that is the biggest hurdle to jump over. I think that viral videos are just that, viral.

  6. tgierba says:

    I hope I am understanding the question right, but I do believe a company can create a video that is viral. Look at Old Spice, they took their spokesman, the “Old Spice Guy” and locked him in his bathroom with a camera to answer people’s questions while still in character. Each video has millions of views and were even available to download to iPod for a while. That is viral marketing. Another organization that tried it was BMW with their BMW Films. A short series of videos starring Clive Owen showing the capabilities that BMW possesses. I don’t know if this increased BMW’s sales, but the videos did go viral.

  7. dbaxley says:

    I don’t think there is a definite method for creating a viral video because there is no way to predict how the message will be received. Rebecca Black’s video has attracted millions of views, but I doubt that she wanted the song to be viewed as “one of the worst songs ever written.” However, she is still gaining a ton of exposure. I think any company needs to weigh the positive and negative consequences associated before distributing these types of videos.

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