The Secrets Behind Many Viral Videos…..Part II: An Apology

My previous post drew some interesting comments from other bloggers but it also profoundly affected the person about whom the article was written. This blog post is to apologize to Dan Ackerman-Greenberg and The Comotion Group. I guess when you don’t have all your facts straight and you declare something in this “delicate” online space it could really harm reputations and I’m here to try to make amends for any damage I’ve caused. I’m also here to represent Dan’s point of view on this subject and his intent when he followed-up to his initial post on TechCrunch in December 2007.

When I initially found the video, I assumed it was a synopsis of the strategies that Dan and The Comotion Group employed to their client base. When I met up with Dan later he was frustrated with what my post implied, specifically using the term, “anti-Christ within the Social Web”. My intent was not to draw further controversy but to allow marketers to see an alternative to traffic building and how to implement it effectively within this space. The problem with the web these days is that every blogger assumes he is a journalist but most do not own those “values” that include depicting the facts first before they publish. Most of the stuff posted these days, mine included, are opinions — the bigger the blog following –> the higher the potential impact (good or bad) it’ll have on the subject matter. So, Dan, I apologize for any negativity this has caused. I truly believe what you guys are doing is remarkable. From a marketer’s standpoint, there is true merit in how you guys achieve success and to set the record straight — without “fakery” or “manipulation”.

Here are excerpts of the communication I received from Dan. I’d much rather put it in his own words so he can clarify his position without interruption:

“With all of the followup posts to the TechCrunch post, the trickiest thing to clarify is the fact that neither I nor my company engages or has ever engaged in most of the “strategies” I talked about in the post almost a year ago. That post was intended to be me, someone with insider knowledge, pulling back the curtains on what companies are doing to promote video virality. Not me claiming that my company ever paid bloggers to fake posts, manipulated hundreds of comments, or tricked anyone into watching videos. Of course that’s not the company I’m building, because that is not a sustainable company.

It’s the same as the SEO industry and the same as companies who help get “MySpace friends” – there are standard practices in the industry that no one talks about or blogs about. The same goes for the video marketing industry – the rules have not yet been agreed upon, but there are clear strategies that people are using (for a few examples see and I was naive enough to be the guy who explained these strategies to the public, which means now I get to be the fall guy (or Antichrist!) for an entire set of marketing practices that I don’t use.

Looking back, I think the reason I posted the article was just that I realized I had some really interesting information that no one else was talking about online yet, and I wanted to get it out there.

The short answer is that clearly, the key to success with viral video marketing (or any video marketing, on or offline), is to make a video that people enjoy and want to engage with. The “strategies” for marketing a video are still being explored, but I’d say that the single best (and most obvious) strategy is to create an awesome video, then send the link to all of your friends. If it’s truly “viral” (“viral” being the situation when on average, one person seeing a video results in that person sending it to an average of at least 1 person ), then sending it out to a few hundred people will be enough of a seed to get it started. If it’s not truly “viral”, then it’s never going to go viral. That doesn’t mean it’s not effective to use video as a marketing tool though. It just means you aren’t going to get marketing for free through peer to peer virality – you’re going to have to go through standard marketing channels to get people to watch your video, i.e. video ad networks. And if a video is compelling (even if not viral), it will engage people to explore your product further (even if they don’t share the video).

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