Published: 23 August 2010

For all his 'intertextuality, his soflty spoken sophistry, his jokes, swear words and smut', internationally renowned, award winning rock comedian Tim Minchin recoginises that he'll 'never be as popular on YouTube as kittens waking up'.

He makes an interesting point, how do you become a YouTube superstar? How do brands create virals that capture the zeitgeist via digital channels? What many people ask us, time and time again, is how do you make a successful viral anyway?

You don't. People do. You see your idea can be clever, witty and eye catching. You can plan and strategise in darkened rooms for months developing what you think will be the next big viral and to an extent this will help. However, the success of planned - see Old Spice's The Man Your Man Can Smell Like' -  and unplanned -  see 'Charlie bit my finger' - viral videos and campaigns require one key ingredient: people. We're not just talking about people enjoying your viral piece either but that people enjoy it so much that they're willing to send it to their friends, to post it on their Facebook profiles, to tweet, retweet and blog about it.

Social media offers people an interesting choice - through your Facebook profile you can publically state your affections for a person, a book or even a brand. To do so though takes belief in that thing and the confidence to say it out loud. Brands that do viral well do so not just because they spend hundreds of thousands on creating high quality campaigns but because they connect and engage with the audience of today. They put the right message in front of the right audience at the right time and in the right place and its backed up with good product and good service (and possibly a touch of self-deprecation).

A few years ago viral success was put down to ones ability to engage the blogosphere and the key few who held court through their hundreds and thousands of blog followers. With the advent of social media, especially Facebook and Twitter, everyones a blogger and your average Joe's circle of influence and interconnectedness is great. A recent study by New Media Age ( showed that whilst a single viral's shelf life is short, apparently only 8.5% of viral stay in viral top 10's longer than a week. However, it is still possible to deliver long term success by integrating your viral with search and social media.

Going back to 'The Man Your Man Can Smell Like', Old Spice's success was put down to its ability to spread and seed the campaign through Facebook, YouTube and Twitter - putting the right message, in front of the right people, at the right time and in the right place - i.e. through the channels they use.

In the past week HitWise UK released an amazing statistic that 1 in every 6 page views in the UK was a page on Facebook. The importance of this, at this moment in time, cannot be overstated enough. Viral campaigns, fan pages and ad banners can levearage this fact to their advantage if brands are will to invest the time in developing the right targetted approach - and why wouldn't you. Afterall, don't you want to be 'The Brand that Your Brand Can Be As Good As' - even if it is Old Spice.

Source: Sagittarius Digital
Author: Nick Towers
Date: 23/08/2010

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