It happens way too often, and it gives me the flying Trombones: in a meeting room without daylight somebody with great corporate hair will put on a strategic face and will utter something along the lines of “for this bleeding edge campaign, we need a viral component to generate word of mouth that will bla bla bla”. Here in #canneslions there are even Lions for best viral campaigns. *sigh*
Let’s agree something. Please, here from the beaches of Cannes: You cannot buy viral. You cannot make viral. You should not sell viral. Full. Stop. Viral is something that will eventually happen, if the online public decides to. There is no magic formula, no guaranteed ways of making it happen. It is –by definition- purely an organic thing. Whether marketers and spin doctors like it or not: going viral is a community driven phenomenon. Seed all you want!
Buying a gazillion online views and paying for countless banners does not guarantee a campaign to be/become viral. It guarantees views, eyeballs, and opportunities to see. Nothing wrong with that: that is what the job is about. Getting the message to the audience. Simple.
The online world has no need for more viral. The online world has a need for more quality, more skill, and more community understanding. As Redford says: more compelling stories. Instead of burning all this useless energy and money in trying to fake something viral, I’d rather see the effort invested in state of the art insights and metrics, strategic choices that drive change, awesome engagement strategies and a flawless execution and delivery plan with respect for the organic nature of the social web.
We’re professionals, not artists. I prefer awesome to viral any day. One day you might get lucky and experience one of your brainchildren go viral. Good for you. I hope your other online work is awesome enough to move the needle without a viral throw of the dice…..