Everyone wants a viral video, right? Why not? Becoming a YouTube sensation can lead to stardom. Just ask Karmin or Justin Bieber. But it’s a double-edged sword and it cuts both ways, as Miss Teen Delaware recently found out. Many businesses however, are in search of the elusive viral video. It may have helped BlendTech, but chances are (1) you’re about as likely to get a viral video as you are to win $1 million on a lottery scratch ticket and (2) you’ll likely not receive a business windfall from a viral video.
If that’s the case, why do so many good marketers try less-than-scrupulous approaches in search of virality? Good question. Last week, I moderated a panel at SXSW called “Mythbusting: Engineering a Viral Video.” I was joined by Bettina Hein, founder and CEO of Pixability, Eduardo Tobon, President of Diner’s Club, and Kevin Doohan, EVP of Marketing at Machinima. Judging by the enormous size of the room at the Austin Convention Center, the planners at SXSW knew we had a hot topic. That fact that we overflowed to standing room only confirmed it. You’ll see some highlights here:

Later that day, I ran into Bob Garfield, co-host of National Public Radio’s On the Media. Bob quipped, “I went to the session fully expecting to beat you folks up, but you gave us a realistic and thoughtful presentation.” Thanks Bob. That was our intent: to stop the gambling approach to online video and YouTube and turn it into a sound investment strategy for brand awareness and performance marketing. Viral video is a myth, but getting great results from online video and YouTube is not.
And one more thing: though the investment approach was sound, it wasn’t going to leave as powerful a lasting impression with the audience. We needed a better metaphor, so we went “whole hog.” Check it out below. The result? Many considered it the best presentation at SXSW. For us? It was time to slaughter the viral video pig.

Mythbusting: Engineering a Viral Video from Pixability Inc.