Under The Microscope

We all know them. We’ve all seen them.

Charlie the Unicorn.

Kid After Dentist.

Lady Falls Stomping Grapes. (My personal favorite.)

These are just a few examples of viral videos that have taken off within the web over the past few years. It is nothing less than amazing how popular these videos have grown, how fast they spread, and how they have made their way into mainstream society. These internet phenomenon have achieved something that only the internet itself can provide; widespread infection through a direct channel to a willing population.

If you don’t believe me, take a look at the following video. I guarantee there is at least one clip withing the following montage that will seem familiar to you.

The truth is, as an entertainment driven society, we see these viral videos as the new age water cooler topic, except these days, instead of talking about them to friends,  send a link and wait for their reaction. (A simple “lol” or “ROTF” will appease.)Why spend time explaining a hilarious video when you can just as easily pass it along?

This does raise an interesting question, however. What is it about these viral videos that makes them so spreadable? Sure, many of them have a comical element that make us laugh and we want to share that with our friends, but this isn’t always the case. After some research and discussion with colleagues, I’ve come to the following top 5 ways to help make your videos become viral.

  • Create something that is outside the social norm. Many of the most popular viral videos challenge what we think is socially acceptable, defying our predetermined notions of social etiquette. Often, these videos have a shock value that keep the viewer intrigued.
  • Add elements of humor. This is a basic one folks. Funny sells. Be funny, win your audience.
  • Be EXTREME. Many popular viral videos show extreme stunts, extreme sports, or individuals defying the laws of physics in mesmerizing physical activities. If you can pull off a dangerous stunt, you’ve got a good chance at going viral.
  • Show something unique. Some of the most interesting viral videos are not funny at all, but wow the viewer by showing something intriguing or unusual. These are where artistic and creative types have a leg up – visually creative videos can make it far on the web.
  • Fail. Sometimes getting it wrong can be just as important as getting it right. Failing big (physical pain, destruction of property, embarassing moments) can win big on the web.

~ by dparsonsmedia on October 13, 2009.

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