Using Viral Videos to Boost Sales

A lot of digital ink has been spilled about how to transform a video into a viral success. There are many theories of how and why videos become viral, and many prominent industry figures have ideas about how to encourage virality in videos. But the reality is that there is no magic formula, no secret recipe for virality. Indeed, it seems likely that what’s needed to become viral is itself constantly changing: a mirror of our society’s ever changing tastes and desires.

So: virality is unpredictable, and engineering a viral video from the ground up is a non-starter. But what do you do if you find yourself holding a viral sensation, right at the beginning? What if you have managed, accidentally or not, to create the next Gangnam Style? How to take advantage of its power while you can? A brand of pet food, Freshpet, can serve as a great case study for how to take the traffic-driving power of a viral star and transform it into sales.

It has a lot to do with luck. Noah, the “Apparently Kid,” was filmed by a local TV reporter covering a county fair in Wayne County, Pennsylvania. The cute, slightly chubby redhead waxed philosophical about his indifference to local news stations, relying slightly too heavily on his four-syllable namesake. The news station thought it was funny and posted the video to their YouTube channel, where it quickly racked up more than three million views in about a week. At this point, traditional media caught on, and the video was featured on news networks across the country, culminating with the boy’s appearance on the Ellen Degeneres Show.

That’s where the story would have ended without any lessons for us marketers, but luckily for us, the good folks at Sharability, a brand agency based out of LA, cued into the story early. They recognized that their client, Freshpet, would be a perfect fit for Noah’s cute yet verbose personality, and, knowing that he was due to appear on Ellen’s show any minute now, quickly contacted the execs at Freshpet. Freshpet loved the idea and signed Noah up immediately as their newest spokesperson.

Surprisingly, they managed to work fast enough that they were able to post Noah’s commercial for Freshpet the day after his appearance on the Ellen Show. Riding the wave of interest and Google searches that resulted from the TV appearance caused, the video received two million views in two days and pushed the Freshpet channel to within the top five of all pet food brands on YouTube, ranked by numbers of subscribers. On top of all that, it increased the traffic to the parent site by over 500%, boosting sales along the way. An apparent success.

So how did they do it? It’s about timing. Great situational awareness on the part of Sharability as well as a willingness to cooperate quickly on the part of Freshpet allowed them to turn around the commercial while Apparently Kid was still rising in popularity now. Viral videos have an extremely short shelf life, so it’s vital to work quickly if you think you have a viral success on your hands. Apparently, even in the YouTube age, the early bird still gets the worm.

If you want your business to go viral with video marketing, then contact us.

Nick Rojas is a business consultant and writer who lives in Los Angeles and Chicago. He has consulted small and medium-sized enterprises for over twenty years. He has  contributed articles to Visual.ly, Entrepreneur, and TechCrunch. You can follow him on Twitter @NickARojas, or you can reach him at NickAndrewRojas@gmail.com.