Elements of Viral Videos

Anyone can be famous on the Internet, but not everyone can go viral. Here are three elements explained by Kevin Allocca, a trend manager at Youtube on how videos go viral and become a cultural moment :

  1. Tastemakers- Tastemakers introduce us to new and interesting things and bring them to a larger audience.
    For example, Double Rainbow, which has now been viewed over 33 million times was posted on YouTube months before it became a cultural moment. It wasn’t until Jimmy Kimmel tweeted about the video that it gained popularity and eventually went viral.
  2. Communities of participationThe introduction of a video through tastemakers accelerates the video to an audience that forms a community and becomes a shared experience among viewers.
    It is common to see a new video shared on Facebook by one Facebook friend and then come back a few hours later and see that 20 other friends have shared the same video. Once a video has been presented, everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon and be a part of the shared experience of the video. For example, Rosie, the eight year old who raps to Nicki Minaj’s Super Bass was shared by one of my friends on Facebook. At this point the video had about 150,000 views and after watching it I told my friends about it. The next day everyone was talking about the video and it was well on its way to its current 33,541,702 views.
  3. Unexpectedness Complete unexpectedness helps a video become viral.
    This video of an angry dad shooting his daughter’s laptop has over 31 million views. It starts with the dad sitting in his yard speaking into the camera about his daughter’s inappropriate Facebook post. In the last minute of the 8 minute and 23 second video, the dad  pulls out his handgun and shoots the daughter’s laptop multiple times. The title of the video is ‘Facebook Parenting: For the Troubled Teen’ and a viewer would never expect for someone to shoot a laptop. Since people have never seen something like this before, when someone mentions it the first instinct is to go on YouTube and watch the video. The unexpectedness of this video is what helped make it viral.

Content producers can use these elements of viral videos in order to get their message or brand to a large audience. To make this happen they will have to make a video that is not common or never been seen before and have some tastemaker (celebrity, public figure, etc.) introduce it to an audience. It is easy for a video to get lost in the clutter, but these elements can help make the video successful.


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