Just What Is It About Viral Videos?
Imagine waking up in the morning, turning on your laptop, and seeing a YouTube video that a friend has just shared on his or her Facebook. After watching, you quickly and excitedly share it with more people via Facebook, Twitter, or any other social network. In the process, you have just inadvertently contributed to the creation of a viral video.
Viral videos can be thought of as a viral infection that spreads throughout the population. A viral video infection can be separated into three parts: the producer or producers of the video (original carriers of the “virus”), the video itself (the actual virus), and the context or media in which the video is spread (the environment of infection). However, viral videos are a recent phenomenon – things have not always been this way.
Think about it – ten years ago, making and producing a short, three-minute video was a rather difficult endeavor, as it would have had to involve people with the necessary professional equipment and technical knowledge. Not only were most people unable to make videos, the only platform on which to show them would have been on television or a cinematic screen – what we now consider as “traditional” media. The proliferation of digital cameras outfitted with video recording capabilities only happened about five years ago, and since then, this innovation has significantly simplified the video-making process. Most importantly, it has altered the role of majority receivers to majority (virus) creators: anyone and everyone is now able to make his or her own viral video. Simultaneously, the advent of uploading and downloading capabilities offered by Web 2.0 sites like Youtube, twitter, MySpace, digg, etc, has rapidly created the optimal environment for virtual, viral video infection.
Although it’s now easier than ever to make your own video and become a virus “carrier”, ultimately, whether or not the infection spreads depends on the stickiness of the video. It’s like a restaurant – its reputation is only as good as quality of the food. Below are 10 examples of the top viral videos of 2010 and the key elements that contributed to their infectious spread.
Short and compact:
Nobody is willing to sit in front of the screen watching a 20-minute video. A viral video must be able to capture the audience’s attention within the first few seconds. Otherwise, the viewer will just hit the back button or close tab.
Captivating and fun to watch:
Video should captivate the viewer’s attention and make him want to keep watching. If viewer’s keep coming back to watch and don’t get tired of it – even better!
Cool and creative:
People always want to see new ideas and inspirations.
Unexpected and unbelievable:
If your audience’s first reaction is a big “WOW!” of surprise and delight, then it’s a success!
And here are our top 10 recommendations so far... and we'll be having more top 10s to come.
01. Yosemitebear Mountain Double Rainbow
This video has over 25 million hits on YouTube, and spurned a whole slew of parodies, including another viral video made with Auto Tunes, which turned the entire video into a song! The randomness and raw emotion in the video, along with the quirky personality of the creator contributed to its rise to fame.
02. OK Go -- This Too Shall Pass
This video begins with a shot of dominoes being pushed over by a toy car -- this opening alone captures the attention of the audience immediately. What’s even more impressive is that the video is one continuous shot (the band did this shot 60 times!), and every triggered mechanical apparatus brings a new sense of delight. Along with the catchy beat, this is a video that viewer will watch more than once.
03. Merton on Chatroulette
The maker of this video used Chatroulette as a platform to create a performance for total strangers. It went viral because of its novelty and creativity.
Not available on Youku
04. Old Spice - The man your man could smell like.
The Old Spice advertising campaign was a hugely successful phenomenon because it’s funny and silly -- and it’s funny because everyone is in on the joke. In this strange little world, a man in a towel and his Old Spice are king, and the arbitrariness of the passing scenery, along with his perfect delivery, make this video worth watching over and over again.
05. Big bang big boom
In this video, graffiti becomes something more than pictures sitting quietly on a wall -- it comes alive to tell a story! Besides being highly creative, it’s also easy to see how much time and effort the filmmakers put into completing such a huge, outdoor animation piece. Every scene makes the viewer want to keep on watching.
06. OK GO- White Knuckles
A music video with dogs?? Yes, OK GO has again challenged the impossible...
07. T-shirt war
This is a very creative stop motion animation done with t-shirts. Besides having their video go viral, the duo behind this project also did a commercial for McDonald’s using the same tactics.
08. I was drunk
A two year-old with a mustache sings about getting drunk last night. Interesting enough?
Besides coming up with creative, infectious videos, Kanye West is in and of himself a savvy social media virus.
Anything made with pixels and 8-bits will always hold a certain irresistible fascination for people born in the ‘70s and ‘80s. That’s why, along with some very cool special effects, this video helped to push a small special effects company into the spotlight.