That funny video you just made will only work if people want to share it.
As noted by Cassie Boorn in her article about four trends affecting PR departments, “every brand wants a viral video or social media campaign that drives major buzz, but few brands realize what it takes.” The main problem is that the company makes the video for different reasons than the viewer shares it
Let’s say I’m Newcastle Brown Ale and I make a video with Anna Kendrick with her talking about how she was supposed to be in a Super Bowl ad but there was no Super Bowl ad. (See my previous blog post regarding that campaign for more.) If people don’t think it’s worth sharing, my video won’t get beyond that viewer. In order to “go viral,” my video has to meet the needs of my company in telling some sort of worthwhile message, as well as the needs of the viewer in their role as a content creator on social media. Regardless of the fact that they had nothing to do with the video, the likes, shares, and comments associated with their post affect their personal brand just as much as it does my company’s brand. In this case, the video works because the video’s 3,000,000+ views in just a few days mean people want to share it.
So when Boorn writes that her fourth problem affecting PR departments is that the success of a brand is in the hands of the consumer, what I think really needs to be learned is that those viral videos and ads need to meet several different needs. I see plenty of videos that I like that I don’t want to share. That’s partially due to the fact that I don’t want to necessarily be known as the guy who directs you all over the internet and spams your feeds with links, but that also ties into the other part of it, which is that the videos I don’t share don’t meet my needs as a content creator.
In order to be shared, that funny viral video needs three things. First, the viewer has to find it funny. Second, the viewer has to think that his or her followers will also find it funny. Finally, the viewer has to find it appropriate for his or her followers.
Currently flooding my feeds is this bizarre Australian PSA (which could also be fake) about staying in school where out of nowhere, people get blown up. I guess I can see the humor in it, but whoever wants me to share it, whether it be an Australian public agency or some hit-hungry YouTube account, didn’t take into the account that I don’t really want to share a video of people getting blown up because I don’t find that appropriate for Facebook.
In an age where each one of us on social media is a consumer and a producer, it’s crucial for PR pros looking to go the humorous route to take into account the audience of their audience. The success of their campaign depends on it.