Masterclass on Viral Video Marketing – Interview Excerpts


Excited to be doing a Masterclass on Viral Video Marketing (DMA Asia) this week. The action packed session about the behind the scenes strategies which have been instrumental in making video marketing a growth hack for ixigo. From driving app installs to skyrocketing reach with videos.

Excerpts from the interview before the Masterclass ..

What role does ‘Viral Video Marketing’ play in ‘Content Marketing Strategy’?

For the success of any content marketing strategy, the distribution of content on social is super important. Organic reach on Facebook is non-existent, that’s how Facebook makes money off you. This is where ‘Viral Content’ can beat Facebook at it’s own game. To the point, the videos that we make at ixigo, our goal is to hit a million without any spends, entirely on the quality of content, supported by organic shares from the users. And content marketing to me is like a Rocketship in outer space, it needs daily fuel to keep going further (that’s your articles, memes etc.) and nuclear fuel once a while which takes it light years ahead (which would be that video or a killer infographic).

How do you conceptualise a video campaign? Is there any process or steps to follow?

For starters, I’ve stopped thinking in campaigns and focus on starting conversations instead. When a video starts conversations among users, then the magic starts to happen. We reject 95% video ideas in our brainstorming meetings just because they aren’t share-worthy. At the end it’s not about the views, but shares that we want, compelling, earned, organic shares. The steps to conceptualise is to start with topics which are either inspirational, solve users’ pain points, celebrate their life, and are topical or change the world in any way. Once our ideas fall into those buckets, it’s a go!

According to you, what are the essential elements of a successful Viral Video?

The first impression is very important, which is the thumbnail image of the video that shows up in the news-feeds of users. That first impression stops the user and compels him to take action. Then, comes the crucial ‘First 3-6 seconds’. That’s the second ‘first impression’. The goal for us is to stop a user in the news-feeds, engage him in the first 3-6 seconds, compel him to watch the whole thing and hit that ’share’ button. The bottom line is that the content must be excellent to begin with, a mediocre video can’t go viral just because you spend millions on it, which was the era of TV.

How do you ensure virality of the videos? What metrics do you use to track ROI?

Virality of any video starts with exceptional content, the idea. That’s 50% of the game. Rest is distribution. Without distribution, your best videos may die in a vault. And distribution is where the method comes in. The most important metric is ‘shares’ and subsequent reach. A video we made in January this year hits 40 million views in a week and got ixigo 20,000 app installs, all organic! When the shares and views hit big numbers, the ROI baby starts to dance.

Which are your favourite Indian viral video campaigns?

If you haven’t yet watched ixigo’s viral videos, check them out.

Which are the best online tools to create a video campaign?

At the end of the day, it ain’t about any fancy tools, but simple storytelling and understanding the user behaviour today. User attention span is super low and mobile use is on all time high, so the video must be fast and mobile native. First thing is to start on paper, and define the concept in shots. What comes first, what next. If you can do this, like obsess about this stage, then rest is easy. After this stage, shooting is easy (your phone or any DSLR), editing is easy (mac has iMovie which is free, or learn an editing software, it ain’t that difficult). If you’d ask any successful photographer about the camera to buy for great photos, he’ll tell you it’s not about the equipment, same applies here.

Viral Video Marketing is mostly taken as a B2C campaign. How can it help in achieving B2B objectives?

Last week, LinkedIn announced getting into videos, which in my opinion opens the floodgates of video content for B2B. Also, be it B2B, B2C or any term that you use to define your audience, at the end of the day it’s for people only. The same fundamentals apply here too, just that the focus is on business problem solving, inspiration, celebrating life or aligning with industry news. The only difference is the benchmarks to measure success. For a B2C hitting a million may be cool, but for B2B, even if you get a thousand views but your audience was CEOs, then it’s a hit in my opinion.

One more thing: I’ve been busy writing a book, compiling all the learnings from the trenches on viral marketing. Join the mailing list to be in the know :)

Epic Selfie with 200 IIT Bombay Students

selfie at IIT Bombay

The epic selfie with 200 students at IIT Bombay. All in suits btw lol told them last time I saw these many suits was at a wedding, and I here I was with a Fricking batman logo on my laptop! My talk was part of the marketing continuum at SJMSOM IIT Bombay.

Masterclass on Viral Marketing – At Digital Marketing Summit Asia


Doing a masterclass on viral marketing at the Digital Marketing Summit – Asia. It’s Asia’s biggest online summit for marketing professionals. It will be live 4pm July 14th Singapore time. If you’re interested to learn about how to make it viral, this is the weekly hour of learning you may need :) Watch here:

From a College Dropout to a University Speaker!


I kept a little secret for many years, something I was too ashamed to mention in conversations in my twenties and had perfectly camouflaged in my confidence. For years I dodged LinkedIn asking me about my education to complete my profile, and bank forms for customer information. So I never finished my degree, dropped out of college in the second year and technically still have only a high school credential. It was the dotcom boom of 2001, an exciting time to be experiencing internet for the first time and riding a revolution around the world.


I had been building websites since I was 16, and was hopelessly optimistic about the future and studying something which for years I had only hacked my way into. A square peg trying to fit into the traditional round hole. At college, the exams were about cramming up borrowed notes, classes were about theory and computer labs had an AC. The dream died a slow death, when after two years, I just stopped going to college. I had read somewhere that just like a blind man has super sharp hearing, you got to make the weakness irrelevant by building on other strengths.

The Moment I’ll Never Forget

I remember the exact moment when those feelings of ‘not-good-enough’ were smashed forever. I was at a traffic light, frantically waiting for it to turn green, I had to run home to check the numbers. Numbers of a video which became the biggest success I had ever tasted. I fired up my iPhone browser, keeping an eye on the traffic lights and there it was.. my first Million views!

That day, when the counter hit the six zeroes – I had my degree.

That one video went on to become Asia’s most shared branded Facebook post and won awards. This had come after a long wait, decade of working in the darkness, starting and closing businesses, attending film school, working in sales to managing social media for brands. My career had taken a new direction, and this was the first day of the rest of my life. I had come out of the ‘drop-out’ closet with a very public success. Working at ixigo was a strong reason as well, with a full license to experiment. Little did I know that in a year, I would win Content Marketer of the Year too :)

Oh The Taboo!

Back in the day, it was not easy living in India being a drop-out. A taboo, it was like a blot on your resume and your life. When friends were discussing about doing MBAs and applying for masters, I was tinkering with websites, lapping up skills and knowledge from the Internet. One thing being a drop-out taught me was to find your own path, chart your own course. I remember once I sold a web app idea to a client in Canada without knowing a thing about that technology. After a few days in the library and hours playing with the code, that project was delivered and at fraction of what competition was quoting. That’s when I started maintaining my success journal, a book with a list of my littlest of achievements, my version of ‘degree on the wall’.

Speaking At a University, Hell Yeah!

Few weeks back, got an invitation to speak at a well respected University. The email was about doing a talk on ‘Viral Videos’. The little degree-less boy who lived with-in me, shouted ‘Hell Yeah’ with joy, it had come full circle. The talk was attended by their Grad students and the sought after ‘Young India Fellowship’ students. I learnt from the admissions office that their entire admissions process was based on meticulous interviews and a curriculum rooted in liberal arts. Ashoka University, with their world class campus is a vision of India’s top entrepreneurs.

So there :)

PS: I’m writing a book, about viral content marketing, about all little things that lead to the crazy millions! Sign-up for the mailing list :)