Do you really want to have a viral video?

Khil
Why are there so few nonprofit videos that really go viral?

It’s not for lack of trying. Everywhere you turn, there’s another cute, clever, nonprofit video that’s gunning for the big V — and most of them have a couple thousand views. Or a lot less. They aren’t going viral.

Sure, it would be great to have tens of millions of YouTube views and have everyone on planet Earth see your message.

But really, what’s the point of that?

Those videos that go mega-viral are usually funny, subversive, surprising, and most of all entertaining.

Being entertaining to “everyone” is almost for sure a long, long way from engaging and motivating people to take action in your cause. Even if you could pull it off, it probably wouldn’t get you anywhere. It would be empty fame.

You aren’t the Trololo Guy. Not even his remix. You aren’t, you can’t be, and you shouldn’t be.

Don’t try to take the entire internet by storm.

Just create something compelling for the slice of people who are or could be your supporters. Spread it around in a reasonable manner. Make sure it leads to some kind of action.

You can accomplish more with a few hundred or thousand well-targeted views than by going viral.


Comments

6 responses to “Do you really want to have a viral video?”

  1. Jeff,
    Great post, straight to the point.
    One of our most successful nonprofit “viral videos” only received a couple thousand views. Maryland state legislators were considering cutting education funding to balance the budget, and the Maryland State Teacher’s Association created a video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78QDCHYFRNw) urging them to keep their promise to support education.
    So why was the video a viral success with only a couple thousand views?
    Because the video was passed on enough so that it eventually reached the representatives making the decision, and the appropriate legislation was passed.
    We often encourage clients to think about video the same way they think about any other communications program, starting with their audience, goals, key messages, and metrics. It’s a much more useful process than hoping for 1,000,000 views.
    Thanks for your insight on this topic.
    Elliot

  2. Jeff,
    Great post, straight to the point.
    One of our most successful nonprofit “viral videos” only received a couple thousand views. Maryland state legislators were considering cutting education funding to balance the budget, and the Maryland State Teacher’s Association created a video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78QDCHYFRNw) urging them to keep their promise to support education.
    So why was the video a viral success with only a couple thousand views?
    Because the video was passed on enough so that it eventually reached the representatives making the decision, and the appropriate legislation was passed.
    We often encourage clients to think about video the same way they think about any other communications program, starting with their audience, goals, key messages, and metrics. It’s a much more useful process than hoping for 1,000,000 views.
    Thanks for your insight on this topic.
    Elliot

  3. Absolutely agree with above. There is a huge difference between views and quality views with any webpage. 500 views by people who are there for a purpose is better than 10,000 accidental views!

  4. Absolutely agree with above. There is a huge difference between views and quality views with any webpage. 500 views by people who are there for a purpose is better than 10,000 accidental views!

  5. I agree too…and note the wonderful video from the Royal Opera has fewer than 3,000 views, but is powerful and effective nonetheless. And how do I hire the Royal Opera’s storyteller?

  6. I agree too…and note the wonderful video from the Royal Opera has fewer than 3,000 views, but is powerful and effective nonetheless. And how do I hire the Royal Opera’s storyteller?

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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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