Viral on your mind?

A‘Kolaveri Di’ kind of video with the capacity to go viral doesn’t happen every day, and that’s something marketers and the junta might do well to remember.

There have been enough and more cases of online campaigns that fell flat on their face just as there have been instances of campaigns that fared considerably well in recent times (Dove’s real beauty, Flipkart’s Nation wants to know, Dhanush’s Sachin anthem).

Content is king

So what are the ingredients that make for success? First up, it’s the content. GroupM ESP national director (sports and live events) Vinit Karnik opines that videos like ‘Kolaveri Di’ and ‘It’s your fault’ are an engaging and entertaining way to disseminate a social message and build awareness.

Watch the video: Boost pays tribute to Sachin's 23 years of stamina!

Gasoline founder and chief creative officer Anil Kakar says the first rule of creating online content is that it needs to be worth sharing. “The potential reach shareable content can offer is enormous and brands are currently only scratching the surface,” he says.

Referring to two recent viral videos ‘It’s your fault’ and ‘I quit’, Draftfcb Ulka Interactive (digital arm of Draftfcb Ulka) creative head Sudarshan Sudevan says: “These two videos share different lights in the context of one’s feeling, one is targeted at the mass and the second, targeted at a single person….her boss. But the common platform that they share is – being vocal about it. That’s the lesson you can learn from it. Exercise your freedom of expression to the maximum… without fear. You can be a total stranger but your voice is surely heard if it has a message. That’s the power of this digital medium.”

Not to do list

Successful online content is often disruptive, based on a powerful insight and more importantly, follows a set of rules in social media that are way different from other forms of media.

Experts believe the most common mistake that someone/some brand can make while launching a digital campaign is to create it to go viral. According to Infosys global head (digital marketing) Ashok Lalla, that is the biggest fallacy. “Virals happen. Of course, one can help them happen through content which is very high quality and well produced, and also through extensively promoting the content. For example, Idea’s Honey Bunny was promoted across media and that drove the viral-ness of the video online,” he points out.

Similarly, Everest Brand Solutions president Dhunji Wadia says if one tries to create a campaign to go viral, there are a million ways to go wrong as there is no fixed formula or template for these videos. “You just have to click with the consumers, literally! Firstly, if it doesn’t impress me, how will it impress the world? One can get carried away with an idea, which does not make as much sense after production as much as it made on paper. Don’t hesitate to start fresh in such a case. Secondly, is the product/service forced into the communication? Sometimes there is a ‘disconnect’ between the product/service and the ad concept. If the two are not inter-twined, the product will be left hanging after a great concept.  It will hardly be noticed. Try to find a common ground between the two.”

Highlighting mistakes marketers/advertisers tend to make, Sudevan adds: “Low budget for a promotion to be launched ‘asap’ plus maximum output demanded (for example say 1 million likes) and hence resorting to social media leads to bad ideas and bad execution, considering the time the agency gets to churn this out in that shoe-string budget. Also, no research of the ecosphere of social media or what or how much a campaign should cost or the time it should get competed within leads to selection of bad ideas presented by some smart agency.”

With or without social media

All said, the social media universe is swelling and no advertiser or marketer can afford to ignore it. Besides, with the dipping rupee and dwindling economy, conventional Indian media is facing the heat, rendering social media the smartest option in the current scenario. 


Says Kakar: “What makes social media unique is the fact that brands can, for the first time, have a conversation directly with consumers. This is a huge paradigm shift of sorts, which is already testing our collective skills as an industry. Also, for the first time, we can gauge accurate responses through analytics and tools, engage with a select audience, should the need arise, and alter content according to responses. Social media is also a great platform to engage opinion leaders or 'feeders', who help promote content onto blogs, twitter, facebook and other platforms for a multiplier effect, generating free PR, which would have otherwise cost an arm and a leg for an advertiser.”

Watch the video: AIB seeks an answer to whose fault is it anyway?

FoxyMoron co-founder and director - new business and innovations Pratik Gupta seconds Kakar saying: “A lot of brands want to reach out to their audience and it might be as simple as uploading a TVC on YouTube. One must remember that a TVC is watched by the entire family, out of which, not all could be the target audience wherein the people who will click on social media are the correct viewers.”

Gupta gives the example of the campaign Baby Lips Kiss Song featuring Alia Bhatt that FoxyMoron recently did for Maybelline. He says there are many brands that are utilizing the platform to the fullest to reach their TG.  He also talks about the YouTube channel Q-tiyapa by TheViralFeverVideos saying they are doing everything right to strike a chord with the youth.

And what do advertisers have to say about digital platforms? “Advertising is a 360-degree experience. That’s when a user feels the brand in totality and since every medium has its own plus points, it’s best to design any campaign keeping in mind the purpose of the campaign,” say advertisers.

Then again, there are the naysayers who feel digital media and by extension, social media is still not a mass channel of outreach in India. Statistics for internet usage vary between 70-140 million and those for social media are a subset of this. So, it’s unlikely to be the medium of choice for all brands for all seasons. At best, digital/social media may be the medium of choice for a younger, urban-centric demographic concentrated in major metros and towns across the country.

Whatever be the case, one thing is clear that with the medium encouraging conversations on various social platforms, the movement of content from ‘airing’ to ‘sharing’ can catalyze the internet audience to great effect.

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