Only 1 in 500 Branded Online Videos Break 500,000 Views

The time has come to face the facts: creating a viral video is a lot harder than it looks.

If you’ve been thinking of trying to take your brand viral with a creative, original and hilarious online video campaign, the odds aren’t exactly in your favor.  Statistics show that only 1 in 500 online videos produced by brands bring in more than 500,000 views, and the videos that break 1 million are even more rare.  The time has come to face the facts: creating a viral video is a lot harder than it looks.

Alison Provost of MediaPost’s Online Video Insider revealed this disappointing statistic in a blog post called ‘An Antidote To Viral Video Fever’.  She writes, “Viral hits are like capturing lightening in a bottle.  It’s amazing if you can do it, but miracles don’t make for good marketing strategy.”

Online video experts have been saying that viral video is not the answer for brands for a while now.  In October 2010, Jim Louderback of Revision3 told us, “When you spend all your creative energy trying to be viral, and only a very small percent succeed, then online video overall is seen as unsuccessful, when it’s really just that type of video [read: viral video] that doesn’t work so well.”  However, many brands just haven’t been listening.  Hopefully this 1 in 500 statistic will wake people up.

But what’s a brand to do?  How can you build a buzz and reach customers without an amazingly hilarious and original viral video?  Provost suggests that brands “change [their] paradigm from branded entertainment to branded information.”  She points out that almost 60% of online searches are for information.  If you know the types of questions that people are asking about your product or your industry, you can create videos that answer these questions.  This way you are not just creating something goofy for goofy’s sake, but you are creating valuable content that will reach your potential customers.

Jay Bailey of RapidFire Video told us in an interview last year that “viral videos” are not created with a specific customer in mind, but rather for “the lowest common denominator”—they are designed so that anyone could potentially share them, often at the expense of providing any real information about the brand.  Therefore, even if your video does “go viral” you have to understand that all those millions of views may not even be relevant to your brand or product.  Jay says, “Your video can go to 700,000 people, of whom 300 are potential customers, or to 25,000, of whom 4,000 are.”  Think about it, and I think it’s clear which option is more worthwhile for your brand and for your wallet.

Are you surprised by this statistic?  Will it make you change the way you think about viral video, or are you still going to shoot for that 1 in 500 possibility?

Megan O’Neill is the resident web video enthusiast here at Social Times.  Megan covers everything from the latest viral videos to online video news and tips, and has a passion for bizarre, original and revolutionary content and ideas.