The term "viral" is heard daily to describe a funny picture, video, meme, or social media status update that spreads like wild fire. You can't even watch the evening news these days without a mention of something going viral, and we can thank social media for this. Thanks a lot Zuckerberg!
Actually, businesses should be thankful that social media is as popular as it is right now, because clever companies are taking full advantage of these platforms and using them as springboards to introduce their products to a very receptive audience. Take a look at some of the more popular viral videos and you will notice that the more outrageous they are, the more views they have.
Take the famous "Worst Twerk Fail EVER - Girl Catches Fire!" video for example. It was simply uploaded to YouTube and received millions of views without any promotion other than social sharing. It was later revealed that it was staged and the brainchild of Jimmy Kimmel. The original video is up to 13,861,783 views, and the video that Jimmy Kimmel Live uploaded to reveal the hoax is up to 16,634,489 views as of this writing. It was the perfect example of the power that social media provides.
Now, companies are switching their marketing strategies to take advantage of this viral shock marketing opportunity. Two videos particularly stick out in my mind as perfect examples of this new trend, a trend that I feel we are only starting to see the beginning of.
Example #1: "Let's Talk About #2"
The Dollar Shave Club burst onto the scene after relaunching with their popular "Our Blades Are F***ing Great" video. The video is now very close to reaching twelve million views on YouTube. Sure, their business concept is great and provides a real value, but it is their first video that really put them on the map.
Now they are back with a video introducing their newest product, One Wipe Charlies, butt wipes for men. They hit another home run with their newest video, released in early June of this year. It currently has 1,681,55 views on YouTube as of this writing and continues to be shared across social media.
Example #2: "Girls Don't Poop - PooPourri.com"
This is hands down the best example of a company taking viral shock marketing to the next level. While other companies are dipping their toes in the water to gauge the temperature, Poo~Pourri is doing cannonballs and making quite a splash.
When this video hit YouTube on September 10, 2013 it instantly went viral. I saw it on the popular social media sites and I had a few people email it to me as well. The first time I watched it I asked myself, "Is this even real?" I felt like I was watching a Saturday Night Live Digital Short, and immediately turned to Google after watching it to learn more.
Bingo! The video did exactly what they wanted, driving me to find out more right after watching it, and eventually landing on their website. Oh yeah, I also emailed it to a bunch of people and shared it on social media myself. When any firm develops an online marketing strategy, my company included, the goal is to drive traffic and create conversions. This video is a prime example of just how powerful the Internet and social media can be when used correctly.
In just one and a half months the video has received over 17 MILLION views on YouTube and doesn't appear to be slowing down. On the Poo~Pourri website they feature a live counter that displays the number of units sold and as of right now that number is 4,126,964...wait, no it's 4,127,019...I mean 4,127,136. You can literally watch the number jump every second. It is safe to say the company is selling the crap out of them, pun intended.
The success of the Poo~Pourri video is going to change the marketing strategies of several companies. When you hit it right and can ride that social media wave it delivers an incredible value. When you compare the ROI of a popular video that utilized paid traffic and media buys to that of one that received social sharing and "free" exposure there is no comparison. I have a strong feeling that 2014 is going to be the year of viral shock marketing and I can't wait to see what kind of creative and over the top masterpieces are created.