Viral Video vs. Social Video

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The goal of many companies that set out to create an online video is for that video to go “viral”; i.e., to be rapidly passed from one person to many, much like a cold or flu virus spreads.

Many marketers believe that having a viral video on YouTube is the golden key to success; they assume that a viral video will spread knowledge of their product or services. The truth is, just because your video has gone viral, it doesn’t mean it is engaging with your target audience.

Moreover, just because your producer claims that your content will go viral, and just because you’ve shelled out a large amount of money to create videos, nothing is guaranteed. More often than not, it will just sit in cyberspace, lonely and unwatched.

An Alternative to Viral

An alternative option to the gamble of viral videos is social videos. The strategy behind social videos is to create content that your target audience wants to see. In other words, you don’t need a video that everyone on YouTube will watch; you need a video that will engage the right audience(s).

While a viral video might grab any viewer’s attention for a moment, social videos are about building relationships with the right people. Social videos seek more than views; they seek to be, interacted with, shared, and discussed. Whereas viral videos are measured by the number of hits, social videos are measured by the number of conversations and the action taken by the actual viewer.

Two Sides of the Same Coin

Social and viral videos are not necessarily different things. After all, a social video can go viral, and viral content can be socially engaging. The difference is, a social video begins with determining how a company can interact with its target audience(s) using video. It starts by asking the question: “What kinds of video are potential customers more likely to share and discuss with each other?”

Bottom Line

No matter what industry you’re in or whether your target audience is consumer or business, your goal as a marketer is to engage, inform and build relationships. As more and more people purchase Smartphones, videos have emerged as one of the best ways to reach them.

Online video is growing quickly, but many companies are not taking advantage of this exceptional medium because of the cost of production and a lack of proper strategy to make it work. The bottom line is to know what you want to gain before you create it. A competent producer can help.

Remember that no one can guarantee that any content will go viral, but with the right strategy in place, you can create a video that reaches—and engages—your target audience.

Jayson Duncan
This monthly Social Media and Video column is contributed by Jayson Duncan. Jayson is an Orange County, California filmmaker and owner of the video production company Miller Farm Media. In 2003, Jayson began using video to help others tell their stories through his video production company, Miller Farm Media. He has created videos for Fortune 50 companies. In his spare time Jayson enjoys playing his guitar, song writing, and spending time with his wife, Gretchin.
Jayson Duncan


Orange County video production company. We create videos to explain ideas, business and products using the art of story.
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