Why Going Viral Is Not Necessary for Successful Animated Explainers

January 12, 2015


Image Credit: cuteimage via FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Most of you have heard that explainers that are viral would become successful. But let’s break that down for a moment.


The purpose of an explainer is to take a complex idea, simplifying it to a short message so that a young child or your grandmother could understand it.


At the same time, there are more and more videos being uploaded each day, and so it leads to a bloody competition amongst startups and established organizations, struggling to have their contents be seen by ever-distracted viewers.


The advice you often hear day after day is that you need to create a video that could become viral to be successful. You need to “stand out” above everyone else in order to have your explainer shared across social networks and viewers.


But there are three problems with this.


Marketers need to do more and more to create an impeccable video.


This could mean businesses need to spend more time planning for what resources to use, spending more money than they need to make an effective video, and do more work to create a polished piece of content to promote across the internet.


The problem with this approach is that almost a decade ago, creating a viral video didn’t need a lot of masterful editing to be seen and shared by many people. As more and more videos are created and uploaded, it seems that marketers push for “doing more” just to sustain a million views.


At Kukuzoo, while we are concerned about creating quality explainers for our clients, we don’t (yet) have expensive studio equipments to start creating a potentially viral video. With animation and writing skills, we create simple, affordable videos that serve only one purpose: a short, easy-to-understand message accompanied by clear animation that the right recipient could take away with.


Creating a video using expensive resources just to generate millions of shares compared to 9 years ago is simply unsustainable.


“Going Viral” means you’re appealing to no one


You’ve heard this before: if you are trying to be everything to everyone, you’re nobody to everyone.


Unfortunately, the video marketing world is obsessed with “going viral” that they almost forgot that the above adage also applies here. To have something that’s viral, there is no straightforward, step-by-step way to be shared by millions.


Before Twitter, people would somehow discover a certain video through email or instant messaging or a popular website. Today, even though there are so many social media tools available, there is no guarantee that your video will somehow go “viral” - unless you’re willing to spend on ppc ads.


Hate to break it to you, but there is a certain luck to achieve virality. The chances of creating a viral video are slim.


What you need to do is stop trying to appeal to the masses. If you have an audience that centres around the type of business you run, cater your videos to them. Building relationships with the right kind of people who might need your content and offering is a much more sustainable and long-term strategy. Maybe they’ll share your explainers with others who might need it too, but that’s a secondary concern.


Make friends with like-minded people for now.


Viral doesn’t always last long


In the summer of 2012, the music video “Gangnam Style” became a hit. After a year, its views on YouTube shot up to more than a billion.


Not to mention a lot of video parodies and thousands of shares across social media.

But if you think about it, the whole talk about Gangnam Style only lasted a few months. At first, everyone’s been talking about it. Only later did it gradually faded and hardly talked about again.

Not that I’m not saying I don’t like it. The song’s great. The music video’s great. But the reality is, anything that’s viral (almost) always becomes a short-lived fad.


Even if you have a viral animated explainer, it doesn’t mean that your business will automatically become successful. While it’s great to have generated tons of leads and customers, without a loyal audience it’s impossible to achieve your marketing goals over the long term.


So is viral bad?


Viral does have its advantages, and any explainer video has a potential to become viral at any point. But it’s not necessary for your startup to gain traction.

However, that doesn’t mean that it’s never a good idea for an explainer to somehow become viral. It’s just that the odds of going viral aren’t the same for all videos.

The key ingredients to a successful explainer are simple:


1.  A clear message or idea

2. Great animation, and

3. The right voice-over (unless not needed)


But if you can create a video that consistently meets these criteria, and that you have it targeted to the right people who could benefit from your content or solution, the notion of virality is almost irrelevant.


Once you have a great video that promotes great content, you need to start distributing it somehow. Perhaps embed it on your website. Tell your friends about it. Embed it on your email campaigns. Add appropriate “share” buttons to your posts so that someone could easily share it with others. But great explainers don’t need to go viral to successfully meet your marketing goals.


And if your explainer does gain a sudden increase in traction, treat the phenomenon as an afterthought, not as a necessity to marketing success.


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