The viral video is a social phenomenon that enables anyone to share a message about a brand. Companies like T-Mobile, Vodafone, Coca-Cola and Samsung have jumped onto the social media bandwagon by integrating this process into their online marketing strategies. As companies make viral videos, they try to imitate a low-budget video by filming with poor image quality and shaky cameras. Companies whose videos look too professional miss the mark and end up with a video that looks more like a marketing brochure than a spur-of-the-moment creation. Viral often comes down to authenticity. What some companies don’t realize is some of the most authentic and therefore viral videos are actually made by customers.
Take Carl Willat, he became an internet sensation after producing a tribute video to Trader Joe’s. Willat’s video is a heartfelt promotion of the company’s product offerings, employees and overall culture. Willat devoted two years to filming clips during his daily visits. His video has reached over 775,000 views on YouTube, transforming him from a loyal customer into a brand promoter, advocating to potential customers. While Trader Joe’s does not advertise, it’s created an environment so loved by its clientele that customers take on the role of advertisers, just like Willat did in his, If I Made a Commercial for Trader Joe’s, video. By staying true to the company’s mission, Trader Joe’s has created a brand that entices its customers to speak on its behalf. We call it creating Brand Evangelists.
Companies spend thousands of dollars trying to emulate videos like Willat’s, but what they don’t realize is that an overproduced video is not the only way. Perhaps rather than spending money on creating viral videos, companies should focus on building brand evangelists that are compelled to create those videos on their own. It is the highest level of what we call audience engagement.
In order to create this environment companies must consider the makeup of their customers and employees and the strength of their relationship with the brand. Trader Joe’s knows their customers and employees well and has created a winning culture within its stores and within its employees. As a result, the company’s quirky offerings, information center, and free samples have transformed regular customers, like Carl Willat, into brand evangelists who live and breathe Trader Joe’s. And who are willing to devote extensive time evangelizing for their favorite brand.
So, how can your brand inspire a viral video? Perhaps the real question is how do you create brand evangelists? We identified the seven steps of audience engagement, which uses the power of a compelling story to convince prospects and referral partners to not only believe and buy, but become advocates and ultimately evangelists. If companies recognize these critical steps they will take actions to ensure they are moving customers along the spectrum- just like Trader Joe’s did. That’s when evangelists are created. That’s when viral videos are created.
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