Viral This, Viral That, Add a Baby Add a Cat…

October 16, 2012 / By

Everybody has their secret sauce that makes an internet video go viral, but what is it that happens behind the scenes that REALLY makes a video go viral and why is it even important?

At one point in our life, we have all wanted to be superstars, TV heroes, comedians, etc. But to do it in real life isn’t easy. You have to dedicate yourself to it, make sacrifices and make it a primary role in your life.

Here’s a better solution. With internet video, it can happen to you in under 1 week from going from a nobody to a worldwide sensation. Even you could be famous by next Saturday. What an opportunity!

There are over 72 hours of video uploaded every minute just in YouTube alone and of that, only a VERY small percentage of that goes viral, gets millions of views and becomes a movement. So how does it happen? You need three things to happen in conjunction:
You need three things to happen in conjunction:

  1. Position of influence
  2. Community
  3. Surprise

So what is it that has gone viral in the past. Flash mobs, planking, scary pop-up movies…Gangnam Style! But as I write this, a true heavyweight at currently just under half a billion views is two young British kids staring in “Charlie Bit My Finger”

A 56-second clip of one toddler biting his older brother. This was innocently posted by their dad wanting to show their godfather in the US. After generating over $500,000 in ad revenue over five years, they are now even talking about making a web series… We’ll see how that turns out?

So how did this happen?

  1. Position Of Influence: Well to start, news channels, breakfast shows and programs such as Jimmy Kimmel and Letterman got a hold of it and showed it on prime time.
  2. Community: The video related to families all over the world, it was innocent and easy to share as it spread laughter.
  3. Surprise: When you start to watch, you don’t really know what is going to happen…then BANG Charlie sinks his teeth in with a viral, catchy and unexpected response from his brother. From here the community formed even further. Right now, there are thousands of mocks and parodies of ‘Charlie Bit My Finger’ all over the web…

From here the community formed even further. Right now, there are thousands of mocks and parodies of ‘Charlie Bit My Finger’ all over the web. The result – It’s this level of community participation that turns an innocent event into a worldwide phenomenon.
Then you have “Nyan Cat”

A looped ‘old school’ animation with looped music. That’s it, and it’s been viewed nearly 90 million times. The best part is, there is also a 3-hour version that has been viewed nearly 6 million times!…not sure how many have made the full 3 hours though?

My opinion is you’d need some health warning on it if you were going to take on the challenge! But no doubt about it, the world took it by storm and started to create multiple versions of it, different nationality versions, black and white, retro. So we don’t just watch, laugh, cry, enjoy, learn and share these videos, we participate.

Ask yourself, how could we have predicted this? Really, Nyan Cat and kids biting each other? With so much video being uploaded every minute, and with that number increasing every year, only that which is truly unique and unexpected can stand out in the way that these things have.

In brief, thousands of parodies have been made. One by a group named Legion Of Honor, who ended up On the Ellen Show and their video is at over 3 million views. Point of Influence, Community, and Surprise…The surprise, in this case, was a new talent.

So what does it mean? These are characteristics of a new kind of media and culture where anyone has access, and the audience defines the popularity.

Take a look at Justin Bieber, one of the biggest stars in the world right now, and holds the video with the largest number of views just under ONE BILLION…and he got his start on YouTube.

When coming up with a video, no one has the right answer for it to go viral. There is no right or wrong combination of old media characteristics, and, to be honest, there’s no real link to today’s media either, but what we are seeing is that it is helping define the future media, and you can bet your bottom dollar we will be watching it get created as it drives forward.

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