THE BLOG
11/10/2014 12:51 pm ET Updated Jan 10, 2015

The Truth About Viral Videos

When is the last time that you watched a previously viral YouTube video such as ALS bucket challenge, Psy's Gangnam Style or Charlie bit my finger?

If you're most people, not since it went viral. Those videos caught our attention for reasons that could not be anticipated or calculated, only hoped for. We saw a huge spike in traffic in each video, and then the video suffers from a cataclysmic drop in traffic and interest.

The competition for eyeballs is enormous. Fact: According to YouTube, 100 hours of video content is uploaded to YouTube each minute.

Now imagine if your business depended on a video or yours going viral...

The motto is, according to Jake Larsen of VideoPower.org, virality is not a strategy to count on. "You can't run a business where its sustainability is hitting the lottery," he said. The point is that video going viral is unpredictable. "If it happens then great, but it's not something you can count on. Your goal should be consistent and steady traffic."

Larsen is a YouTube Ambassador. He was one of 10 experts selected by YouTube several years ago to help promote YouTube as an advertising platform. "We were some of the first to deploy those ads that you can skip after five seconds," he says proudly while counting off the successful campaigns he ran.

There are several ways to advertise on YouTube. But what's interesting about this one particular format is that if you are watching one of those videos with the five-second rule, and you skip the ad, the advertiser doesn't have to pay for it.

Best of all worlds. You don't have to sit through a mindless TV commercial and the advertiser isn't paying for viewers who could not care less -- less than five seconds at least. But what happens if they are captivated for more than 5 seconds, I asked him...

"If the viewer clicks off before the lessor of 30 seconds or 1/2 of the video, it's effectively free."

Trying to get a video to go viral is not a strategy any more than buying lottery tickets is the strategy to build wealth. It's random and unpredictable. Don't bet on it.

Biggest mistake that video creators make is that they often neglect to include a clear call to action (CTA). Sometimes the videos are super-high quality and everything. But if it's lacking a clear CTA at the end or during the video, it's likely to help only with branding.