Viral Infection: What Makes Videos Go Viral
Viral videos have become more popular now than they have ever been and companies, organizations, charities, parents, and cats are starting to take notice. The one question that is on everyones mind is, “What makes a video go viral?” “How do we know what type of video to make?” or “What’s the secret formula?” So, lets break it down and dive into the viral world.
What Makes A Video Go Viral?
There are many different theories as to why some videos can instantly go viral while others can only get a few thousand hits at best. Let’s take the perfect example of a viral video: ‘Charlie Bit Me’. When you watch a video like “Charlie Bit Me”, you can’t help but to laugh. These two little boys are doing what siblings do. So why is this so popular? Well, according to Jonah Berger, an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, it’s all about the emotional connection. Seeing those boys experience a wide range of emotion, from happy to sad to confused and back again, allows the viewers to form a small emotional connection with the two boys, which is why people keep coming back for more. Your heart strings are pulled on and you are automatically drawn to not only rewatch the video, but share it with anyone and everyone.
How Many Types of Viral Videos Are Out There?
In the world of viral videos, there are many different styles and kinds of videos. Here are the top 3 categories that you are most likely to come across:
1.) Video for a Cause: These are videos that are released by charities, non-profit organizations, and government officials with one purpose in mind: Get People Involved. Because this area of video can be a little boring and monotonous at times, people who create these short clips have to really think outside of the box to get people actively engaging in a conversation and ultimately excited to lend a helping hand. A perfect example of this is a video that was released by DropTheWeapons.org on behalf of the Metropolitan Police Service of London to show young people what can happen when you make one bad choice. The video, unlike all of the others, is interactive. It allows you to make choices at the end of each video which actually determines the fate of the main character in the story. The makers of the video took a different approach and, in the end, it definitely paid off.
2.) Video for a Job/Campaign: When you are working on a social media campaign, your client may ask you to create a viral video for them. That’s almost like asking you to create water in thin air. One of the most difficult parts of that request is that there may be a very big chance that whomever asked you for this video probably has no idea how to go about creating a video like this, has no experience with it, and has no clue where they think you should start. This is where you need to think outside of the box. Think about who your audience is, who they could be, and what they want to see. From there, figure out a way to deliver the information to them in a manner that will make your client interested and keep your fans coming back for more. Take, for instance, this video that Coca Cola did. It didn’t seem to have a point, but it did make a lot of people very happy.
3.) Video for Fun: Out of the 3 categories of viral videos, this is the one that people are most familiar with. These are the videos that people post videos of their cats creeping in their living rooms, babies laughing a funny noises or random weird animations. What makes these videos so popular is the fact that they are random and yet relatable. Most people have had those moments where they’re talking on the phone and have an embarrassing trip or their child says something absolutely ridiculous and all you can think is, Man, I wish I had a camera right now.” These videos, like ‘Charlie Bit Me’, are the ones that most people can relate to. They see these moments and think about how that has happened to either themselves’ or someone they know which is why they become so popular. One perfect example would be a little boy who has a trip to the dentist that neither his father, nor the millions of viewers that have seen the video, will ever forget.
What’s the Secret Formula?
So what exactly do you need to do to get your instant 15 minutes of internet fame? Well…SURPRISE! There is no formula. There isn’t a set time frame that you need to stay within, there isn’t a certain amount of plot twists that you need to have, or a certain number of cute babies and animals. Kevin Allocca, YouTube’s trends manager, talked about what he feels are the most important components of creating a viral video:
Tastemakers: These people are the catalysts that propel your video to new heights because they have the audience that is constantly listening to them. These people form their point of view about your video, share it with their audience, and build a community around it.
Community Participation: These are the people who become inspired by what your video has to offer and then engage with each other on many different levels. Whether it’s forming inside jokes about your videos or creating their own parodies, these communities are what can keep your videos popularity on the rise.
Unexpectedness: Your video has to have an element that no one can see coming. Something that will spark peoples’ interest and make them want to learn more about you and what you have to say.