We all love viral videos.  If we didn’t love them, they wouldn’t go viral in the first place.  Of course, viral videos are just one small slice in the online video marketing pie, but we must admit it is a particularly digestable slice.  Let’s take a look at one of the viral clips circulating like mad this week:

Created by two former Central Institute students, this video is a daring and experimental take on what might have been an otherwise boring, generic ad for a technical college in Australia.  Things take a surprise turn for the gory after the 1 minute mark, so stop there if you’re squeamish.  Indeed, you may feel that they took the dark humor about 30 seconds too far, but the overall response has been incredibly positive.  Approaching the 2 million views mark faster than you can snap your fingers in it’s first week online, the video has already garnered praise from Time.com, Adweek.com, and Gizmodo.

Very clever stuff and Central Institute is undoubtedly delighted with the exposure they’re getting, but could they have capitalized on it more?  The video ends with a still image displaying the school’s URL.  Then that still is overtaken and the final image you’re left with is a tiled display of other videos YouTube recommends, including a Pokemon clip, a scene from Titanic, and a video entitled “Cute munchkin baby kitten talks too much.”  Anyone who comes across this video on Adweek and wants to learn more about Central Institute will have to go back to the end screen, pause before the recommendations fade in, and type out the URL into their browser.  Or, they could just click on those munchkin kittens and forget about Central Institute altogether.  Which do you think YouTube would prefer?

It’s not surprising that this video was put up on YouTube, as that has become part of the standard viral marketing protocol.   Make a great video, upload it to YouTube, share it with relevant blogs, media outlets, social networks, and hope it catches fire.  Like anything we do out of habit or tradition, it’s worth stepping back and questioning why.  Why invest so much time and money creating an ad for your company, only to wrap it in a player that directs people to a site other than your own?

That’s not to say you should pretend YouTube doesn’t exist.  It’s always a good idea to maintain a presence on YouTube, but when making the effort to share potentially viral content with the media, on forums, with your connections, why not favor a platform that works for you rather than benefits from you?  Professional video hosting platforms are designed to do the very same thing viral videos are – promote your brand.  Integrating one into your viral marketing strategy makes perfect sense.  Take a moment to ask yourself which video hosting platform makes your business look it’s best, just as you do when deciding on creative direction,  production companies, casting, and all other crucial aspects of your video strategy.