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Friday, 25 September 2009

Friday Guest Blog: Viral Marketing

by Russ Hirst, Head of Digital PR, Tangerine PR

When the term 'viral' first starting doing the rounds within marketing circles it referred mainly to that office-centric habit in the early ‘00s where a person would receive an email laden with cute/funny images of kittens/dogs/babies and, because email was still fairly novel to some, people would then forward it on to their entire address book. A large number of those recipients would then do the same - choosing, of their own altruistic will, to share the email with others. Emails like this became overnight viral ‘hits’.

But as cute as those kittens are, who benefits from them being sent around the globe? Yes, it may bring a smile to your face but is there any money in it?
As time has since told, brands have jumped onto the viral machine and have successfully created viral video campaigns that have self-distributed, i.e. they've effectively been aired for free. So yes, there is money (to be saved) in viral.

A large proportion of the growth of viral video is down to a site that many of you will have heard of - YouTube. Part of Google since 2006 (when it was bought for $1.65 billion) YouTube has become the favoured web-pastime of many of us, whether you use it for watching clips of old sitcoms, bleepers, music videos - or just to see Boris Johnson fall into a river. The really interesting thing about YouTube though is how easy the site has made it to share a video that you find interesting/funny/stupid/shocking (delete as appropriate).

In the really old days (maybe a decade ago), if you saw something funny on the web you had to copy the URL and then paste that into an email to send to your friends. That might take you a minute or so, fine at the time, but far too long these days when we expect to be able to do something in an instant.

It's no surprise then that when you find a video on YouTube that you want to send on, you've now got options at your fingertips to share in a single click via Facebook, Bebo, MySpace, Twitter, orkut, Live Spaces, Digg or StumbleUpon. Or, you can enter your friend’s email address there and then and YouTube will mail them for you.

These simple sharing tools have revolutionised online video and made the distribution process so much easier - and the reach so much wider. Even somebody who rarely uses the web would find it easy to share a video, meaning that suddenly everybody becomes a possible distribution channel. No wonder TV advertising revenue is down...

So let's end with some stats. The Cadbury Gorilla ad has reached almost 4 million views and the T-Mobile flash mob commercial has been watched over 12 million times – however they’re both minnows compared to the video of the two British brothers "Charlie bit my finger - again!" which has now surpassed ONE HUNDRED MILLION views. And all the time whilst showing ads across it for The Sun's Showbiz website.

What's your rate card again YouTube?

Visit for all the latest from the team at Tangerine PR or follow Russ on Twitter @russhirst

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