Nike Proves Content Is King When It Comes To Viral Videos

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By now you have probably seen Nike’s World Cup ‘Write The Future’ viral video, which has been viewed over 15 million times on YouTube in the last month. But what you may not have known is that the video received its first 3 million views while it was unlisted on YouTube. The fact that the video garnered a whopping 3 million views before it was even launched officially just goes to show that content is king in the world of viral video and videos of the right caliber will spread via word of mouth without a major promotional push or campaign.

In early May, YouTube announced the addition of unlisted videos to the site’s privacy settings. When a video is unlisted it does not appear in search results and can only be accessed by users who have been given the direct link to the video. Nike uploaded their ‘Write The Future’ video to YouTube as unlisted on May 17.

There was some debate about whether Nike meant for the campaign to be released before the privacy settings were changed to public. Many people thought that the video had been uploaded by Nike to share the clip quietly inside the company and with a select few individuals. However, NewTeeVee posted that the video “was initially unlisted so that Nike could see what kind of traffic it could generate via word of mouth and viral means.” If this is the case, Nike has revolutionized the way we can gauge the effectiveness of viral campaigns.

If a video can garner 3 million views when it is still marked as unlisted then you know it is truly viral material. Unlisted videos can be a great way for giant brands like Nike to test out their viral endeavors before they officially launch them to the public. ‘Write The Future’ was able to spread via Twitter, Facebook and a multitude of blog posts before it even showed up in a YouTube search for Nike, FIFA, World Cup or other popular search terms. It will be interesting to see if they take the same approach to their viral campaigns in the future.

It doesn’t hurt that Nike is a huge international brand – of course word started to spread when people heard that there was a “leaked” unlisted Nike video on YouTube. However, if the content of that video had not been truly amazing there is no way it would have gotten the coverage that it did. The ‘Write The Future’ campaign is a great example of how a campaign will spread via world of mouth if it truly is remarkable. Do you think Nike and other brands will use unlisted videos to gauge their viral campaigns in the future?