The Dark Art of Viral Seeding

I’ve recently had to investigate the murky world of viral seeding, and, personally knowing little about this “black art”, I approached it with some trepidation. And, while YouTube classics like ‘I like turtles’ can get millions of views, for a brand, with a cynical agenda and restrictions on how far you can push it, it becomes  a much harder slog. So, first port of call was to speak to a number of (inevitability) east London-based agencies, with weird names and trendy, grungy addresses.

However, as I expected, seeding a video is not cheap. In fact, a starting point is several grand just to get your foot in the door. And, given that we’d spent all the budget on the viral itself, we needed a contingency…  so, after much research, and after speaking to lots of interesting people, my team set upon doing it ourselves. And guess what, there’s no dark art, just lots and lots of grunt.

Here’s what I learnt:

  • It takes 30-40 hours to seed a viral properly. There is no substitute for the time you need to put into this. You get out, what you put in, and much of it is boring, boring, boring, so a good opportunity to enlist a keen work experience, or exec, rather than spending a lot of senior time on it.
  • Make your plan and stick to it. And make sure you don’t take short cuts because this will impact on the results. – Focus on easy wins first – so include links to the viral on your company signature, email it to your contacts and clients, put it on your company’s blog, Tweet about it and distribute it to your client’s email database. All easy wins, and a great way to get it out there, fast.
  • Viral sites – there’s a number of viral charts and viral sites out there which, if your viral is good enough, will feature it. This really is ‘job done’ if they do, as it can be a route to get in front of hundreds of thousands of people. A word of warning: if they don’t like it or don’t find it funny, they won’t use it. And I’m not going to give you a list of the sites; that’s what Google’s for.
  • Video sharing sites – again, upload your work to at least the top 15 or 20 video sharing sites. There’s tons aside from YouTube where people will go to search for a specific type of video. Again, no lists, but Google will fill you in.
  • Target social media power users and relevant bloggers. So, if you’re viral is about sport for example, then identify the top 20 sports bloggers and Twitter users to approach. If it’s a spoof TV news interview, then Tweet the station’s reporters. All common sense really. It’s also worth approaching key ‘faces’ on Twitter, so well know journalists, celebs and so on. If Stephen Fry Tweets about it for example, you’ll be getting in front of 1.4m captive people straight away, with his very own glowing endorsement.
  • Finally, PR it to the max – though wringing out PR value from a video can be tough make sure you can create enough of a story to make traditional media interested in it too. Don’t bolt this on afterwards – make sure you plan it in from the outset.

And my next post will be about measuring the success of a video – once I work out how.

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