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September 28, 2011
Connecting with Clients in the Digital Era: Viral Videos
 
I don’t like spamming my friends with commercials or propaganda, but earlier this month I did something I rarely do. I posted a commercial for State Farm Insurance on my Facebook page.

I was viewer number 27 when I saw the video online, but today more than 75,300 viewers have watched it. Even better, these are people who went out of their way to connect with the video, so you know their attention span was higher.

Now that’s a successful video.

It seems everyone in the world is trying to figure out how to produce a video to reach the masses. We’re all trying to release the message in the bottle without breaking the glass. This State Farm video was a classic example of creative thinking that released the message to the targeted person on the other side of the ocean in the original, unbroken, bottle.

So what specifically did State Farm do right with this video?
 
As a former TV producer, I’m always analyzing movies and videos that move me. I realize if the video captures my short attention span, there is an ingredient I need to apply to my production formula. State Farm took advantage of timing, entertainment, emotions, and a good narrative when it executed this video, which helped make it a successful viral video.
 
Timing: We were all bombarded with 9/11 messages in September, but this State Farm video stood out from all other 9/11-related messages because their video reminded you of everything that was innocent about your childhood. The video showed children singing the popular song, Empire State of Mind. And for more dramatic effect, the kids sang to NYC firefighters (who seemed caught by surprise) outside of their firehouse. The timing of this video allowed State Farm to enter the consciousness of potential customers at a time when viewers were emotionally open to this message. You will have more success with a video going viral if you can tie it into a current state of mind.
 
Quality Entertainment: This video was produced in an authentic way and made you feel beyond words. As I watched it, I could almost see a Mother holding the camera as her son got on the bus. I could feel the anxiety these children felt as they entered the school bus. If you want to move people, the video needs to move people. In addition, this State Farm video had movement that kept you close enough to the scene, and the shots were stable enough to keep you from getting dizzy. Quality matters when it comes to a successful viral video.
 
Emotive: If you’re trying to produce a viral video, you want to take your viewers to the intimate scene. Let them forget that they are watching a video and soon they will become emotionally attached to your product. I became emotionally attached to these children in only one-minute because the music, scene selection, close-up shots of faces, transported me to their location.
 
Narrative: The best videos will have a narrative, and it’s not always told through the verbal word. You can communicate a narrative with gestures, animations, innuendo, subtlety and of course music. In this case, the narrative was told through the faces of children and firefighters.  
  
It’s difficult to produce an entertaining video, but we all know it when we see it. You can improve your chances by asking yourself this before any element has been shot: What message do I want to convey?
 
If you can answer that question on day one, you will improve your chances of connecting with clients.

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Mark Macias is the co-founder of BigBirdFans.com. He produces social media videos for all kinds of clients and consults on publicity campaigns. You can read more at www.MaciasPR.com.

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