Guy Kawasaki started this. In a recent post-webinar Twitter chat with Facebook guru Mari Smith, Guy noted the lessons that marketers could learn from watching Justin Bieber’s movie, Never Say Never. And after viewing it myself, Guy was spot on. What stood out to me was how it highlighted the myth of the viral video.
We’ve all heard it. Sometimes we’ve even said it. “Great. We’ll post the video and then it’ll go viral …” Uh, not so much. The fact is, viral videos — content that spreads like a crazy wildfire across the Internet — are a myth. Or, rather, the act of creating these sensations out of the box is a myth. There isn’t any magic dust marketers can sprinkle over our content to endow it with these powers. The fact is, these phenomenons are largely the result of random chance.
Case in point — Bieber himself, often touted as the pop star that YouTube created. However, when you watch Never Say Never it’s clear that Bieber’s success is no accident. YouTube didn’t make him what he is today all by itself. First, online video amplifies personal brands — whether you’re a pop icon hopeful or running for local dog catcher. The talent belongs to you and your brand. The Biebs’ mom posting videos of Justin to share with family did result in him getting an agent but even this step was just raw opportunity. (A lot of out-of-work artists have agents.)
What did Team Bieber do? Simply put, they went to work. Studios said they needed the backing of Disney or Nickelodeon to push a kid act but they persevered going guerilla and taking it to the streets. Literally. And to shopping malls and radio stations. Radio stations who weren’t playing his album before he stopped by. And tweeting the whole way which was more of an unheard of thing at the time. This built the foundation of what would become an online community that would grow exponentially, culminating in Bieber selling out Madison Square Garden earlier than his contemporaries. And the rest is history.
Sorry. There’s no viral video magic dust. Can you increase your viral chances with great content and a well-integrated campaign like Bieber? Sure. But there’s no way around the hard work that comes with getting there.
The movie is not entirely a marketing master class. It’s at least 50% teenybopper goofiness. For example, the slow motion hair-flip close-ups were a bit gratuitous. But I guess you could say that the hair is a key Bieber brand touchpoint. Guy also did a great post on this for American Express’ Open Forum.
So that’s a marketing insight I discovered in a surprising place. What’s the most unlikely place you’ve learned a business lesson?
Photo via Flickr user kindofadraag