MARKETING

Jimmy Kimmel's Lessons on Viral Videos

Widely shared videos can provide a great marketing boost, but planning them shouldn't take you away from your core business, the talk show host says.
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With a YouTube channel that has garnered nearly a billion views, late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel clearly knows a thing or two about getting people interested in his video content.

In an interview with Re/code, the host of ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live shared his wisdom on viral content in a media landscape that puts tremendous importance on "going viral."

The whole interview is worth a read, but here are three important lessons from it:

Going Viral Isn't an Exact Science

Kimmel, known for his widely shared prank videos--including a video of a girl who catches fire while twerking and one with a wolf prowling the halls at the Sochi Olympics (both below)--says that you can only plan so much when it comes to making content go viral. 

"I think that with pranks like these, you can only do so much planning," he tell Re/code. "The twerking video--we put it on YouTube, and it just happened to catch fire. But sometimes you see a video, and it's getting a lot of traction, and [it turns out] it's from November 2010, and somebody just happened to find it and post it on Reddit, and it became popular." 

One Hit Won't Make You 

Kimmel stressed that just because some of his videos have gone viral, it doesn't mean that everyone who watched the videos has started watching his talk show. 

"There's a give and take," he says in the interview. "The good part is that people become more aware of you, and what you're doing on your show. The bad part is that it's like the same thing that happened to the music industry. You can buy a single on iTunes for $1.29, and you don't buy the whole album. When I was a teenager, you bought the whole album." 

It is important for companies to keep this in mind--the same can be true if you have one top-selling product or one marketing campaign that really takes off. True success requires more than a single hit. 

Don't Forget What Your Business is Really About

"I always remind our staff, and our writers, that we're not in the business of making viral videos," Kimmel tells Re/code. "We're in the business of making a television show. And if these things lend themselves to the Internet, then great. But that's not our intent." 

Like Kimmel, as a business owner you should keep your company's true purpose at the forefront. It is important to have a great social media following and killer marketing campaigns to get your company's name out, but remember what your business is really about. 

 

IMAGE: Getty Images
Last updated: Mar 11, 2014

ABIGAIL TRACY

Abigail Tracy is a staff reporter for Inc. magazine. Previously, she worked for Seattle Metropolitan magazine and Chicago magazine.




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