Learning from the Viral Video Experts

By David Strom Print this article Print

Rather than blocking video access to employees, I suggest that youlearn from the experts and produce your own viral videos for the benefit of your business.


You probably already know what the term "video snacking" means, but just in case, it is the way many employees spend their free time during the workday, viewing videos that have no real work-related content. But rather than blocking video access, I suggest that you take a moment and learn from the experts and start to think about ways that you can produce your own viral videos for corporate promotional purposes.


I had a chance to interview Stephen Voltz and Fritz Grob last week. You might not recognize their names, but you no doubt have seen their work: the two are behind Eepybird.com, where they combine Mentos with Diet Coke to create geysers of exploding soda and some very entertaining videos. Their videos have been downloaded millions of times and enjoyed by people all over the globe.


What is fascinating is how quickly the duo became famous: within a week of uploading their first video, they were booked on all the major talk shows (and this is back when these shows had writers so the competition for guests was tough). Voltz and Grob talked about having excellent video production values isn’t quite right for their audience: like so many things on the Internet, Just Good Enough Production is really what counts, and getting across a Just Plain Folks sensibility is really the best path towards more click-throughs. Plus, seeing all that spraying soda helps, too.


Listen to my podcast interview with the 'birds.'


Contrary to popular belief, the duo has had plenty of support from the marketing arms of both Mentos and Coca-Cola companies. As you might imagine, they consume a lot of product for their backyard experiments, and they told us that a lot of planning and testing goes into setting up the final shots that you see online – sometimes these three minute videos take months of preparation. They now devote themselves full-time to their experiments, and have gone on the speaking circuit and done them live at various cities, soaking volunteers with soda geysers.


So what can ordinary corporate IT citizens learn from the viral video experts? Several things.


First, it isn't about production values: a single camera and simple editing is better than spending millions with a Hollywood CGI crew. You don't need to make them too slick but as polished as you need to just tell your story.


Second, realism matters. Contrast the exploding sodas with the taxi cab stories that are found on Bud.tv: the videos are shot in the back of a taxi, but the taxi is sitting on top of a flatbed truck with multiple cameras shooting the action. They could have saved themselves a bunch of money by simplifying their situation.


Third, find someone who is already video-savvy or someone who can put together the right kind of look for your corporation. You may have to look at the teenaged kids of your staff for the best talent here.


Finally, have some story to tell that isn't just about self-promotion, but mixes entertainment with some content that will be visually stimulating. If you don't have a visual story to tell, then you shouldn't be working in video! Take a look at what Walter Lewin, an MIT physics professor, is doing. His freshman college physics lectures have become popular downloads, even though they are the actual lectures that he gives his undergraduates. It is because he is so visual and funny in front of the classroom that it makes his physics classes come alive.


There is a lot to learn from video snacking, and how you can use the viral video phenomenon to promote your own brand online.

This article was originally published on 2008-01-23
eWeek eWeek

Have the latest technology news and resources emailed to you everyday.