Once again my eyes have been assaulted by claims that this, that and the other has become a viral hit on the internet.
On closer investigation I discovered they didn’t really go viral. At best they were shared a good number of times but not really viral. Viral suggests reaching an audience way beyond your intended one. Let’s face it having millions of people viewing your video, post or photograph must be brilliant but in reality what does it achieve? A million YouTube views. All that means is one million people clicked play. They may have clicked off after 3 seconds, got distracted and just not paid any real attention to the content anyway.
I am not saying numbers are unimportant but that they might not be as important as we think they are.
Maybe we need to examine them a bit more. If you make a video of a friends birthday party and post it to FB and everyone of your 600 friends on the platform viewed it, then you can say your video was a success. It reached everyone of your intended audience. Beyond your Facebook friends your video has no audience.Maybe we need to re-examine what we deem success in the social media world. Huge audiences does not necessarily imply huge engagement.We need to define our audience better and assess the success of the video or campaign, not by how many random people have watched it, but by the engagement it generated with our intended audience. At a recent Charity Comms event Joe Hall, online campaigns and communications manager, The Climate Coalition/ founder, Woo Hoo Yeah Yeah! shared this slide.
It shows an event was trending, surely a success, but the sharing was only amongst activists. As the next slide showed everyone else was unaware.
Numbers only tell a part of the story. It seems to me having plenty of committed activists engaged with your message is much better than a large mildly interested one.
How you define your audience is up to you but define it and reach it you must. Viral isn’t everything engagement on the other hand.