Why do videos go viral? It’s an excellent question, and a recent video presentation by Kevin Allocca, Google’s Trend Manager, reveals some insights that may help solar companies produce their own viral videos. I recently wrote a post about why people generally share things on the internet, so I won’t repeat myself here. However, that post is worth reviewing along with the following:
So, what, according to Allocca, makes videos go viral, and how can these lessons help solar marketers? Let’s go through his three key elements:
1) Taste makers. Videos go viral because they somehow fall into the hands of “Taste makers” who present their opinions — good or bad — about the video. And who are the taste makers? Your PR people should know them directly or know people who do. They can be bloggers with a following, reporters, pundits, or celebrities. Note that a taste maker can also be someone with only a few friends — but who is connected to the bloggers, reporters, celebrities, etc.
The solar marketing lesson: Create a solar video that is worth sharing and then use your existing relationships to directly or indirectly seed the video to taste makers. If these taste makers mention your video in a Tweet, blog post, Facebook post, news article, or on a national talk show, you’re on your way. Of course, the trick is that you have to create something worth sharing. (See number 3.)
2) Communities and participation. Once the taste maker presents your video to his or her community, then it’s up to the community to spread the word. So, the taste maker is only the match. The community that follows the taste maker is the fuel. In the examples cited by Allocca, the source materials were not only spread, but they were also mimicked. That is, people were inspired to take the source material and make it their own in some way, some mockingly, while others creatively. So going viral may be good or bad. Much will depend on the taste maker’s opinion and if the audience strongly disagrees or agrees with that judgment. So just having a connection to a taste maker is not enough to launch a viral video. A lukewarm reaction to the source material and the taste maker's opinion goes nowhere.
The solar marketing lesson: To have a video go viral, you or your brand should be a part of large communities with connections that interact and support your brand or cause. This is why YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are all such powerful tools. Not only can people easily share your information, but they can also respond, positively or negatively. Naturally, the goal is a strong positive reaction.
And that brings us the third and final element:
3) Unexpectedness. Whatever content you’ve created, it needs to contain an element of originality, surprise, or, as Allocca coins it, “unexpectedness.” Of all three elements, I’d argue that this is the most important one.
It’s the unexpectedness of the source material that gets the attention of the taste maker and causes him or her to share the video with the community, and it’s also the same element that makes the taste maker’s community want to spread the word too or "respond" to the source material with their own creative expression based on the source material.
The solar marketing lesson: As I say often here, stand out and educate. That is, create a solar video that is intentionally surprising and unexpected, and at the same time, says something positive about solar and your company. If done carefully and thoughtfully, solar marketers will increase the chance of the video being shared by taste makers and their wider community for the right reasons. It's just one more way to... UnThink Solar.
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