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Is the secret to viral video marketing social media?

In 2013 the most viral video was the Dove Real Beauty Sketches short film. Dove conducted a social experiment exploring the way women view their beauty as opposed to what others see. Dove’s beautifully crafted video portrays how women are their own worst critic and view themselves far less beautiful than the rest of the world sees them. In just three short minutes Dove is able to capture raw emotion and really speak to the viewer – I was in tears by the end! But, social media director James Whatley who was part of the international advertising, marketing and public relations team that created Dove’s film explains that there is no answer to how this video or other videos go viral.

As one would assume for a video to go viral it must be of the best possible content and be promoted very well. James Whatley says how viral content “capture the imagination” and must “have significant investment behind them to ensure enough eyes turn into enough clicks and enough shares.” So, while the Dove Real Beauty Sketches spoke to me and many other people on an emotional level its success was not purely due to the emotional resonance. The video and campaign were “backed up be a rock-solid media planning, distribution and public relations strategy,” which helped in making it the most viral video of 2013 with 136 million views.

Rarely content will go viral without a large media spend behind it or a large amount of money to kick start initial interest. This is how social media can be so effective and helpful in helping a brands content go viral. Established brands like Dove have a large existing network of fans and followers on social media networks. These networks on sites like Facebook and Twitter can be very powerful. It is likely that someone who likes Dove on Facebook or follows them on Twitter is already a fan and/or loyal consumer of Dove making it likely for them to share content with their own networks of friends and followers. Social media allows consumers to engage with the product or company because brands are able to share content easily and frequently with their consumers.

Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 5.01.37 AMFor loyal consumers of a product social media helps to create a stronger bond with the product. Without social media big brands wouldn’t have Facebook pages or Twitter accounts and be able to interact with their consumers so easily. I think that social media has allowed for people to become more loyal fans of products and brands. It is a way for people to feel like they have a deeper, more personal connection to a brand when they follow the brands social media sites. Thus, when a brand releases a video on their page it is these loyal consumers who share and help to advertise and market the products.

While it may not be social media alone that makes a video go viral I believe that it does help in many ways. Social media sites allow for the video to reach a huge number of people and the fact that it is so easy to share a video with your network on social media sites helps as well. As we talked about in class though even when content does go viral sometimes companies do not even see an increase in sales. Even though the 136 million people who viewed the video may not be buying Dove after watching it they now know the Dove brand and have a connection with it and in the long run this I think will help sales.

Image taken as a screengrab from the Dove Facebook page.

Featured Image taken as a screengrab from the Dove Twitter page.

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