Do Viral Videos Really Deliver the Message?


Photo courtesy of Mark Smiciklas via Flickr

By: Sarah Mattes

We all know that technology is important to today’s society, people can’t even go a hour without checking their Facebook or Twitter feeds. We are a generation dependent on technology and the constant flow of information.

This small fact is what companies thrive on! Companies spend millions of dollars  and hundreds of hours on creating social media campaigns and advertising. They need to bring their product to your newsfeed. Most of the ads or tweets you see are for products such as Coca-Cola or Toms shoes, but recently more and more non-profits are joining the feed.

Hollaback! is a non-profit working to end street harassment. They are present in 70 US cities and 26 different countries around the world. Besides conducting standard research throughout these various places, Hollaback! recently filmed a video of a woman silently walking through Manhattan. And what they filmed will make your jaw drop. If you haven’t seen it, I strongly encourage you to!


Needless to say the video went viral! It was on every social media sites “Trending” list, being investigated by several national newspapers, and was the feature on different national news programs. The video was obviously passed around and watched by many, but the question remains did it help Hollaback! tell their message?

This video in particular caught a lot of press and media attention which helped Hollaback!’s cause but can that be said for other videos? Do you think viewers see the message behind the videos or just move on to the next one down the line?Do you think non-profits joining the news feeds is an effective use of their resources or will people just bypass them?


9 responses to “Do Viral Videos Really Deliver the Message?

  1. I think videos like these absolutely get the message across. I would safely bet that 90 percent of my Facebook newsfeed consists of videos like these. I’m constantly bombarded with stories from Cosmo or Marie Claire about how women are defying oppressive stereotypes. Other companies are succeeding, too. Remember the Always “Like a Girl?” ad? When that video went viral, tons of my girl–and even a few guy–Facebook friends posted the video and praised its message.

  2. I love that organizations like Hollaback! are using videos to get their message across because I personally believe that such a visual message can have more of an impact in some instances than the printed word can. It’s different to read about these situations than to actually experience them. I think viewers see the message behind these videos, especially when the organization has at the end of the video, like Hollaback! does to donate or look into the cause.

  3. I think with the way today’s society works, a video like this is the best way to get the word out about something like this. Watching this video brought so much more awareness, as opposed to if somebody just read a flyer about Hollaback! The organization is very smart and I believe will receive tremendous amounts of support from people who view this video. I definitely see people taking something away from this article, because it is different from the other ones on my feed about puppies and other random things. There is a strong and obvious message behind it, and it will make people act.

  4. I agree with Lauren, my Facebook feed is constantly filled with videos just like the one in your post. I think when people take two minutes to actually watch a video all the way through they take away the message that is being portrayed. However, I’m sure there are a lot of videos that get bypassed and don’t receive the same attention this one did. When the message is powerful, people want to pass it along for others to see.

  5. I think that viral videos are a great way to promote these types of things, especially when it comes to important issues like harassment and overpowering stereotypes. I agree that in today’s world, a video is the best vehicle to get these messages across–much more effective than a news article or blurb. Viral videos reach millions of people simply by having that label: “viral.” People like to know what’s being talked about on their social media. They like to engage in what they’re learning about, and videos like these not only show real issues, but they provide powerful ways to take advantage of how quickly news can spread.

  6. I think videos like these are what really get people to see what’s happening. It’s easy to post some statistics and ask for support, but really seeing what’s going on will bring more shock to a person. Similar to what a few other people have posted, I’ve seen this video and many others like it all over my news feed. People comment and have discussions on many of these posts, and that’s what these videos encourage. I think it’s a brilliant move on groups like Hollaback!’s part, and I don’t see an end to these viral videos anytime soon.

  7. The one viral video that I always think about is the “Kony 2012” campaign. Whether it’s silently but deadly videos such as this one or long logistical videos like Kony, the message sticks. It may be days or years, such as Kony for me. While that campaign died down (especially after the creator was arrested for public nudity,) it brought intense awareness to an important issue.

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