Internet Marketing Strategies: The power of Viral Video

In an earlier column, I wrote about using online video as an effective yet inexpensive method to market your store. This past Christmas Season we saw one jewelry company who put this advertising media to great use.

I'm sure by now most of you have seen the video "Beware of the Doghouse" produced by JC Penny. If you haven't go to and watch it. This hilarious video tells the story of guys getting in trouble with their wife or girlfriend because they bought thoughtless gifts.

A website was created with the same domain name as the video. Then a YouTube account was created with the same name and the video up-loaded to it. This was very powerful! If you search on the Internet for ‘Beware Doghouse', the first two listings are the website and the YouTube video. There was also an account created on Meta Café with the same name.

I have no idea how many people went to their website, but over 800,000 viewed the video on the YouTube account and over 400,000 viewed it on Meta Café. But that isn't the end of it. This video went Viral! Other YouTube users pick up the video and played it on their account. Others posted it on various video hosting websites around the Internet.

All totaled this video received well over 2 million views just from the free hosting websites, and that doesn't include how many watched it from their own website. Plus J C Penny added a nice feature where you could warn your special someone that they could end up in the doghouse. Guess what? J C Penny made a fun way to get the e-mail address of men all across the US who have a wife or girlfriend who wants jewelry for Christmas. They even have a place on their website to send him to the doghouse if he did not respond properly (by buying jewelry).

J C Penny made buying jewelry fun with a viral video and an interactive website, all the while compiling the Jeweler's Dream E-Mail List.

Tips For Making A Video Go Viral
  • First and foremost you need to come up with an idea for your video that is either funny or has an un-expected twist at the end. These are the 2 types of videos that have the best chance of going viral. This is the hardest part of the whole campaign. Get this down and the rest is a breeze.
  • Tell your story in a way that doesn't look like an advertisement. The "Beware of the Doghouse" video was excellent at these first two points (which is why over 2 million viewers saw it). It was a humorous story and you did not know it was an advertisement until the last few seconds.
  • A little controversy never hurts. Videos that tend to be controversial have a better chance of going viral. But be careful with this! A few anti postings help create a buzz about your video and cause more people to want to watch it. However, you don't want more posts about your video that are negative than positive. Controversy can help but it is better to avoid it, than to go too far.
  • Create a short video. Videos under 2 minutes have the best chance of going viral and 30 seconds to 1 minute is the best. A longer version is fine for your own website, but you need short clips to post on the video hosting websites so they are quick to view and easy to share.
  • Create a series of videos instead of just one video. Releasing a new episode each week, or a couple of episodes a month, gives your viewers a reason to come back and watch your ad again. Instead of having just one video sent around the Internet, you could have 5 or 6 of them. Plus viewers on YouTube and other video hosts can subscribe to your videos and receive an e-mail from them each time you post a new video.
  • Create a website with the same domain name as your video series. Then you can collect e-mail addresses and send out auto-responders. Today websites are cheap! Domain names are $10 a year and hosting accounts are $8 a month or less. A simple interactive website that shows all the videos or a full-version video, collects e-mail addresses, and sends out auto-responders is easy to create and not very expensive. Don't shortchange your video campaign. Have a website related to the video to send your viewers to after they watch the video.
  • Submit your videos to ALL of the free video hosting websites. Sure YouTube is by far the biggest one out there and Meta Café is in the top 5, but there are over 50 video hosting websites that will accept your videos and play them for no cost to you. I don't understand why anyone would go to all the trouble and expense to create a video and then not submit it to at least the top 25 or 30 websites that people go to see videos. Sure, someone may eventually post it on several other websites, but why wait. Post it on all of them to be sure you receive the broadest audience.
  • You don't have to spend a lot of money on video production. The Internet is different than television and the movie screen. Viewers on the Internet tend to be leery of big budget, slick 5th Avenue advertising. A video that isn't so polished and has more of a homemade feel to it has a better chance of going viral.
  • Add geographic qualifiers such as your zip code, city and state to your website and in the information posted with the video on the free hosting websites. Your video can still be seen by the whole wide world, but by doing so you will target your geographical area in all local searches.
  • Once you have your video posted, share it on Facebook and other social media websites, blog about it, and send an e-mail with a link to the video to your entire mail list. Once you get the ball rolling, others will follow and soon you will see your video going viral.
As you can see using the Internet and creating Viral Videos is easy and inexpensive yet an highly effective means to market your store. Plus creating a humorous video for your store will be the most fun you ever had creating advertising.

Brad & Debbie Simon are owners of Internet 4 Jewelers,, where they teach retail jewelers how to use the Internet as a marketing tool to drive more traffic into their stores and to stay in touch with their existing customers. They also provide affordable Marketing Services, including video creation and submissions, to those who are too busy running their store to do it themselves. For more information please visit