Unfortunately, there's no sure-fire formula for creating viral videos. But videos that offer useful information, not just entertainment, can spark the most interest among customers.September 20, 2011
Viral videos are equal parts creativity, magic and luck. Marketers across industries have tried to create videos that will spread organically across the social web--but there is never any guarantee a video will "go viral." Some low-budget videos become viral sensations, while other slick productions never catch on.
Many B2C brands, long accustomed to creating catchy messages to connect with consumer audiences, have been successful with viral video. B2B companies, however, have been slower to embrace viral video marketing. A large part of this slow adoption stems from the nature of B2B marketing: funny or catchy videos don't do much to drive leads among business buyers.
"Clever videos are best left to the big consumer brands, because they won't have much impact on B2B decision-makers," says Clay McDaniel, managing director at Spring Creek Group, a social media marketing agency that works with both B2C and B2B brands, such as Microsoft and CenturyLink, to help them create social marketing programs.
McDaniel says B2B marketers should focus on creating educational videos that showcase their products or services, as well as experiment with live-stream video chats and video roundtables (which can be recorded for future sharing) to provide targeted information to customer prospects. Most B2B videos spread virally because they are "useful," not because they are "entertaining," according to McDaniel.
While an educational video on how to use an HR software product, or one showcasing the latest-and-greatest packaging products, might not seem exciting to a consumer, it may be of great interest to business customers--sparking viral sharing among colleagues and business partners.
That said, funny or clever videos can work to spark interest in a B2B brand--just don't expect them to drive hard leads.
"Educational or product-focused videos--and even entertaining or inspiring ones--can really help B2B marketers improve brand reach, which ultimately generate sales leads," says Dan Greenberg, CEO of Sharethrough, a social video distribution company. "Even 1,000 ‘shared views' of a video can beat a million views of a pre-roll video ad, because those 1,000 viewers are hyper-targeted and already interested in your product or services." Sharethrough has distributed viral videos for B2B brands such as Cisco, EMC and Intel.
And while there is no magic recipe for creating viral videos, there are several concrete strategiesB2B marketers can take to increase the likelihood their videos will garner millions of views.
One thing many B2B marketers forget is that viral videos don't have to "sell" anything. Sometimes, an animated infographic explaining a business trend can build more brand awareness than a product-focused video. Few people share "commercials," but many people share useful, smart or interesting videos.
So, which B2B marketers are getting viral video right? Here are five B2B videos that have spread like wildfire, with insights into why each one was successful:
Salesforce.com: What is Cloud Computing?
YouTube Views: 650,000
This video educated businesses around the world on the core principles of cloud computing, explaining a complex idea with simple graphics and non-technical language. By focusing on educating business users instead of trying to "sell something," the video was shared widely and built brand goodwill for Salesforce.com at the same time.
Corning: A Day Made of Glass
YouTube Views: 15 million
This video is often citedas the most successful B2B viral marketing video of all time. The video shows a futuristic vision of a future where everything is "made of glass" and a family interacts with glass surfaces throughout the day. The video has a dreamy, magic quality that captivated millions of viewers. We interviewed Corning about its blockbuster viral video [See Q&A below]. The company had some surprising insights into why the video worked so well.
Epuron: Power of Wind
YouTube Views: 250,000
This video was one of the first viral videos created by a B2B company to gain widespread global attention. The strange and funny video featuring the mysterious "Mr. W" won a gold award at the Cannes advertising festival. The company behind this creative gem? Epuron, a European wind farm development and financing company.
YouTube Views: 150,000
This new video, one of 900-plus on Cisco's YouTube channel, takes a humorous approach to corporate network security. At the end of the video, which many people shared simply because it was funny, there is subtle message about Cisco SecureX software.
Intel: The Chase
YouTube Views: 2.7 million
This video is Intel's most popular of more than 2,800 on its YouTube channel. Showcasing the performance capabilities of the company's new processors through an action movie-style chase sequence across the program windows on a computer desktop, the clip was sharp, cool and intriguing--drawing admiration from creatives in the ad industry and viewers alike.
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