This week, on my return from an overseas holiday, on a boat, I have had an office full of creatives brainstorming viral campaigns for clients at least 12 hours per day.

Whilst, everybody is different and it really comes down to individual preferences on what is a good viral and what is in fact, not, I am continually surprised by what is a hit and what is a miss.

A viral, for those who can’t think beyond health related meanings, is a phrase used to describe popular email-forwarded or word-of-mouth propelled video clips on the Internet and as a business that promotes companies in the b2b and b2c sectors, we are destined to do quite a few viral video clips each year.

It gives our young creatives a way of unleashing their inner-most out-of-the-box creativity and ultimately sense of humour – or lack of it!

At the ripe old age of 36, I am less likely to be spending evenings or weekends looking at virals but I guess, I am not really the ultimate target audience for many of the very successful virals that have been staged on the internet. My ability to consume such things is limited as away from the workforce, I live a fairly sheltered life from the various media mediums.

Having said that, I do remember vividly the humour that came from the Mastercard virals 10 years ago and how successful they were amongst my peers and the world over.

And more recently, having been on a boat with a few guys that were avid consumers of viral videos, I had the opportunity to see ‘I’m on a boat’ which coincidently, I was. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_YlkEUOonI&feature=related)

A group of 7 people in their mid thirties all engaged by a video that is somewhat silly, but humourous, taking the ‘piss’ out of people ‘on a boat’.

Even though I am a person who often misses the punchline in a joke (I definately inherited this skill from my mother), I could see the value in this viral email. Here I was, on this glorious boat in the South of France, enjoying the sunshine, and there we all were, looking at a computer screen watching a video. What is that about? Seriously, I wasn’t bored soaking up the rays of sunshine, yet, even I spent the 5 minutes looking at this viral that ultimately promoted Vodka.

We were all engaged and we couldn’t stop talking about it. So much so, after a few glasses of wine we were all ready to do our own clip (and thankfully that moment passed quickly and there are no videos floating around that I would be a tad embarrassed about).

Virals are a cost-effective way in which to promote certain products and services. If done well, they can achieve millions of hits and the word-of-mouth value for those ones that are successful, are often in the tens of millions.

Companies that do it well, reap the rewards… but if you fail to ignite a sense with the recipient of your viral video to pass it on, then it is a waste of money, time and effort and can ultimately damage your brand.

Youtube (how did we survive without this?) gives even those backyard videos a level playing field. Some of the most creative and funny virals are done by Mum’s and Dad’s at home having a good time. Anyone can do it, anytime, anywhere.

Television programs like Britian’s Got Talent have been tens of millions of dollars worth of publicity through the viral promotion of Susan Boyle (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8OcQ9A-5noM&feature=PlayList&p=41424DCD1015CA16&index=0&playnext=1.

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Mellissah Smith

Mellissah Smith is a marketing expert with more than 20 years experience. Having founded and built two successful marketing companies internationally, she is well recognized as a industry thought leader and innovator. Mellissah started her career working with technology and professional services firms, primarily in marketing, public relations and investor relations, positioning a number of successful companies to list on the various Stock Exchanges around the world. She is a writer, technology developer and entrepreneur who shares her thoughts and experiences through blogs and written articles published in various media outlets. Brag sheet: #2 marketer to follow on Twitter (2003), Top 150 Marketers to Follow (2015), Top 10 innovative marketers (2014), 60K+ followers on Twitter with 97% authentic.

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