What’s the Difference Between Viral and Social?


I got an email from a friend on Friday informing me that I had to see this amazing video and the sheer amount of calculus involved to pull it off was stunning. (Video at the bottom.) The video is well done and very funny. Makes me want to set up a huge Slip ‘n Slide. I would consider this video viral and I’m sure that many have seen it by now. The question is, do you remember who made the video or what the product/service is? I don’t. I had to watch it again to see what is was “for”. There is a fine line between something that is viral and something that is social.

A video series for Will it Blend? rides the line between viral and social. I believe it is more social because it has been a series of videos. A series of videos seems to transform to social objects a little more easily than one video. It warrants more of a dialogue. One video seems to be treated more like an incident than something that people consistently share with peers.

I think of viral as advertising which is simply to make some aware, like a great wave of attention. Essentially social is deeper. It’s marketing. Something social would have the customer as a participant in the direction of the business.

Given this, I would hesitate to create anything strictly viral like Quicksilver’s dynamite Surfing. Very clever and I’m sure it helps build brand but all in all, it looks like a billboard fodder. I would recommend putting social hooks into anything created with the intent of being viral. I would have had fans generate impossible surfing stories in a forum and then had them vote on which ones were the best. Create the one that wins and the one the one the company wanted to create. (Remember, being social is being a peer. Businesses don’t just bend to the will of the customer. Being social is a partnership.) You could also create a series of videos based on the top stories.

Enjoy the video!

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I'm an Associate Teaching Professor of Digital Marketing at the Daniels College of Business, University of Denver. I also consult with startups and established brands. I'm currently interested in artificial intelligence, cognitive neuroscience and culture. I am married to an amazing woman and have two incredible children. I was raised in Colorado and spend my free time with family, cycling, snowboarding and going to the Pacific Ocean to SCUBA dive + surf. I'm passionate about architecture, design, street art, photography and tattooing.