The great thing about video, viral and social media marketing is that the brand message doesn’t always have to hit the end consumer directly, from the start. Each and every view doesn’t have to come from likely buyers or the end consumers, as long as the creative, message and viral marketing strategy of the campaign are aligned and  intended to get there eventually.

Blast Radius: Video Marketing Blow Back

Not that I’ve ever tried this, but apparently when you throw a grenade at someone, the thing blows up and sends shrapnel in all different directions. This blast pattern can be predicted to a certain degree, but largely, the people and things that get hit depend on where you threw it in the first place. The people closest to the blast will be influenced the most, the people hit with shrapnel will be second in line, followed by the people hit with debris, the sound concussion and the effects of witnessing such an event. They will be sure to tell their friends.

We’ve been working on first person shooter video game pitches over the last few weeks so please excuse the graphic analogy, but the point is that we don’t have to become over-obsessed with hitting our targets directly in all cases.

I am a huge advocate of setting viral marketing goals, outlining a marketing strategy before developing the creative, and understanding the role online video should play in a larger marketing initiative. That said, sometimes we tend to over strategize and, as a result, are left unable to react to the positive and negative blow back most video campaigns will initiate. Imagine throwing that hand grenade and having no ability to follow up if you miss your target because you lack the quickness, spirit and agility to react to the S-storm heading your way, led by angry people that just had a grenade lobbed at them.

How we launch a campaign and then react to the reaction can mean the difference between a success and a big fat fail. Viral marketing, and specifically online video marketing, depends heavily on the cooperation of influencers, fans and consumers sharing the brand message. If the video creative or the messaging misses the target… then what?

Reactive Engagement: Video Marketing Course Correction

Not every video marketing campaign will go exactly as planned, and that’s where reactive engagement comes into play. Oddly enough, too many brands and agencies simply seed a video, buy some ad placements, engage some influencers and let the video views start racking up without ever going back and engaging the viewers, commenters, bloggers, fans and consumers.

Such reengagement tactics are particularly valuable when a video campaign is missing its mark. Video marketing is supposed to involve sparking conversation around the video and then diving into and helping to guide that conversation. The conversation is where your brand messaging is often revealed or further explained so never let these opportunities go to waste.

Video Marketing Campaign FAIL

Here are 3 possible scenarios in which aspects of the video marketing campaign can fail and still be recovered through reactive engagement:

1. Didn’t quite nail the creative

The purpose of good creative is to carry the video from viewer to viewer until you hit buying consumers. Let’s assume that the video is clever and shareable, but just not hitting the target demo as squarely as expected. Don’t panic. Adjust fire and compensate by upping the viral marketing and video placements on targeted sites. Push the conversation into overdrive and deemphasize the brand messaging until the video finds its target.

2. Didn’t quite nail the messaging

The purpose of the messaging is to build awareness, inform the viewer of a special offer, a product release or simply to remind them of an existing product or service. This can take place within the creative (branded entertainment, viral videos), in the surrounding conversation, or take place in an end tag or overt product placement as with traditional ads. The most common fails are when brands either overstate the message which scares viewers away, or understate the message which leaves viewers unaware that they just watched a marketing video. The solution to the former is to double down on the viral marketing and video placements on targeted sites to compensate for the obtrusive marketing message. The solution to the latter involves diving head first into the conversation and seeding the message so that wherever a viewer looks for more information, your brand, offer, product or service will be there.

3. Didn’t quite nail the viral marketing strategy

The viral marketing strategy is instrumental in making sure the video and message get to the right viewers. When the gliders invading France during D-Day missed their landing zones, the soldiers just picked up their guns and their clickers and headed for their targets anyway. They had a really good strategy but other things got in the way… like the weather… and trees. So let’s soldier on. Assuming the creative and messaging are stellar but the strategy isn’t working out, alter the strategy on the fly, real-time. That’s the kind of adaptability that will define the leaders in video and social marketing going forward.

Haters Gonna Hate

No matter what the video is about, what the product or service is or what the brand messaging contains, there will be detractors and naysayers. This comes with the territory and the key is in knowing how to handle the abuse and rejection. Often, the best way is to ignore it. The other alternative is to engage and start a flame war. Depending on the product or service, the commentary surrounding a video can be as entertaining as the video itself, and depending on the angle you take, you can get the haters off bashing the product and get them off on something else completely. It’s pretty fun too.


Above all, if you’ve missed your mark for any reason, and even if you’ve done everything right, keep going! I’ve seen too many brands and businesses launch a video campaign then walk away expecting that their job is done. Maybe the reason why most videos follow such a predictable arc in popularity and fade away within a short period of time is that the viral marketers let go. Videos last and spread online for as long as you let them. Everything gets stale eventually, but lots more views, more key blog posts and more mentions on Facebook and Twitter may be worth that extra push.

If everything goes well, you may just live to throw another grenade!