Blog / January 6, 2014
Last week the video below went viral and WestJet had more hits to their website and more flights booked in one week than they have almost the entire rest of the year. It seems every large company today wants to make viral videos, and why not, they boost your brand recognition more than any other form of advertising. But, very few companies have unlocked the secret to getting a video to actually go viral like WestJet and GEICO. I've dug into this video and I'm going to help explain what about it lead to over 26 Million hits in about a week.
Let me preface this all by saying there is no single secret to making a video go viral. You must find something that strikes a chord with the viewer. Most often it is humor but can also be something that hits you emotionally or is inspiring.
The number one thing that airline company WestJet did right was to release this video right before the holidays when people will be traveling more than any other time in the season. So the timing was a big factor.
It's also a time when the spirit of giving is high. Most businesses give a small discount or send a thank you letter to their customer. These guys did a great job of getting out of the box (or in the box if you're the WestJet Santa).
The next key to the success of this video is the surprise factor. WestJet used their sources of technology perfectly. They showed us that miracles can come true and in the case of the guy with who wanted socks and underwear, they showed us to be careful what you wish for.
WestJet kept viewers intrigued by making them wonder why flyers were talking to a Santa in a box before their flight. Once you're to that point in the video you're hooked.
The last and probably most important factor to this video going viral is it relates to viewers on an emotional level. Even if you're not the person getting the surprise gift from the luggage pick up area you can't help but smile when you see the look on someone's face when they get a gift they've really wanted. If there's any for sure secret to making a viral video it's making something inspiring and emotional.
So why do I care?
WestJet's video and project is an example of the most powerful branding I've ever seen. First of all, most of you are probably like me and had never heard of WestJet before. So they've gained brand recognition.
Second, a large portion of people who have viewed the video and have the option to choose WestJet for their flight will do so. They respect what WestJet did and other people simply will buy a ticket hoping they might get lucky and have the same experience and get a free gift (freeloading is in our nature, but you just paid $300 for a chance to get a free gift).
And lastly, WestJet just gained approximately 50 very loyal customers. Those flyers will forever fly with WestJet as a subconscious thank you for those awesome surprises and the experience. And more over, those flyers will tell their family and friends about the experience and the airline will gain more loyal customers. Word of mouth is, and always will be, the most powerful form of advertising.