Go viral or go home?

The “going viral” mentality is being challenged by marketing analysts who say that viral videos do nothing for the brand in terms of long term success.  As social media users become more and more mainstream, the lifespan of viral videos decreases and therefore, so does their effectiveness.  Online we consume so much content that in the grand scheme of things, even viral videos becomes lost after only a few minutes.

“While the attention viral content received in the past may have been measured in months, the life-span has gone down to weeks, days, hours and, in some cases, minutes.”

Although proven a successful technique in the past, must marketers take this into account when moving forward?  In this rapidly changing digital age how is it possible to boost brand awareness efficiently and in a way that sticks with the audience for a long period of time?

In this article, Rezab proposes the idea of shareability versus virality.  He says that in order to successfully increase brand awareness, the brand must offer a constant stream of attractive content rather than a single “wow” video.

While I am not expert in the matter, I would like to challenge Rezab’s belief.  I agree with many of his arguments, specifically the one in which viral videos are lost amongst the masses of content.  In my opinion, an outstanding video that really wows the viewer seems to be far more effective than a stream of content with a repetitive message.  Everyone knows those few commercials or advertisements that they associate with a certain brand, most likely due to the concept of virality.  While shareability is important to increase brand awareness through different audiences, I am more likely to share a “viral” video that really wows my social media friends.

The most recent example of a viral video is Budweiser’s 2015 Super Bowl commercial, featuring a puppy and the Clydesdale horses.  Although Budweiser is an established brand and the concept of the commercial is replayed year after year (this commercial  being the sequel), this video has literally blown up my Facebook feed even in the past few hours.

I understand the differentiation Rezab was aiming to make between virality and shareability but I don’t necessarily agree that brands should stop focusing on “going viral.” Marketing may be moving in a new direction, but grabbing viewers’ attention through viral videos will never fail.

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