I love the movie KICK-ASS for all sorts of reasons:
- It subverts the usual "superhero" genre in film
- It empowers kids (despite its detractors)
- It fuels nostalgia and the way adults wish their early teen years could have been
But I also love the film's use of viral social networking, particularly how it integrates YouTube into the story's plotline. There's a scene where main character Dave Lizewski (as self-professed superhero Kick-Ass) beats some thugs while a witness captures the beating on his phone, only to later upload it to YouTube.
The video goes viral, generating over 24,000,000 views, causing the national news to pick up the story. This YouTube sensation becomes a marketing vehicle for the newly minted "superhero," who picks up over 16,000 "friends" on his MySpace account (as opposed to alter-ego Dave's paltry 38).
Because this video has an almost built-in SNP, it blows Kick-Ass into the public consciousness, giving the superhero auto street-cred and legitimacy (yet Kick-Ass will still have to prove himself and his abilities, if not to his "fans" but to himself).
So, viral can lead to success and, if you want something to go viral, you need to make it viral-worthy whether internally within your company or externally to your targeted market. Just posting something on YouTube (unless your Kick-Ass) doesn't mean you'll automatically get an audience. You need to identify those individuals in your market with high SNP and then rely on them to spread it.
Viral anything is a leap of faith but worth taking if you want your product/brand to gain an audience. But you'll still need to prove yourself.