Sneezing And Blowing Your Nose Aren’t The Same Thing

Just because your video has a few million page views doesn’t mean it’s gone viral. It just means a few million people have seen it.

Not that this is necessarily a bad thing. Of course it depends on your objectives. So when Avril Lavigne’s Girlfriend video (not available to Australians) passed Evolution of Dance for the All Time Most Viewed video on YouTube earlier this year, it’s hard to argue her video had the same viral qualities because she cheated.

When a campaign runs a microsite with a video on the front page, you can earn millions of pageviews. This doesn’t mean the content has been spread, especially not virally.

Therefore you can’t measure if a video has gone viral just on hits. Instead look at how many people are talking about it and ultimately their influence on those listening.

  • Andrew McMillen
    Posted at March 30, 2009 12:33am, 30 March Reply

    But it’s rare for a video that gets millions of hits without publicity, without being shared across the web.

    To do so, the video would have to arouse a truly indifferent reaction in each viewer. A video that’s not good enough to positively pass on, yet not bad enough to negatively distribute.

    I know you’re arguing that viewer engagement is what distinguishes a successful, ‘deep’ viral campaign from a shallow video that’s widely seen, and not discussed or analysed.

    But are you arguing that there’s no value in the latter?

  • Zac Martin
    Posted at March 30, 2009 9:11am, 30 March Reply

    Of course there is value in the latter.

    But you cannot call it viral. Viral is when people spread the content for you. When I send a link to a mate via IM or I post it on Facebook, utilising the word of mouth benefits, that’s viral.

    It becomes less viral with recommendation sites like Digg, and even less so with sites that have videos on the front page being “popular because they’re popular”.

    The ultimate non viral is of course when you’re paying for hits or paid seeding which is not at all natural and where there is no spread occurring. Of course if you’re just after hits, then this still has merit.

  • Morgan Coudray
    Posted at April 1, 2009 5:24am, 01 April Reply

    Taht a very good disctinction ZaC! If I play the devil’s advocate though, many would make such a claim because of the lack of metrics readily available to distinguish between both.

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