Category Archives: Viral Video

Viral Video – Definition


What does it mean when a video becomes viral?

A “Viral Video” can be looked at as the widespread sharing of a video in a short-period of time. A viral video does not have to be a video that has been recently uploaded, it can be years old and have a low view count to begin with. The video just needs to be found and shared to a popular medium, much like the case of the “Double Rainbow” viral video, which had been posted months before it was picked up by popular television talk-show host Jimmy Kimmel and shared on his Twitter account. Which was then picked up by CNN and continued to share and grow.

What time frame and how many views makes a video “viral”?

Years ago when the amount of traffic YouTube received, a video would be considered viral if it had reached 1 million views. Dealing with the mass traffic YouTube gets today a video is seen to be viral if it can acquire around 5 million views in the span of 3 – 7 days. Though creators of videos that receive one million or five-hundred thousand views would still be happy and consider their video viral.

What else?

A video is considered viral by how many different websites and mediums it gets shared to to acquire views. When a video can be talked about by everyone even though they consume different mediums – to infiltrate an audience that wouldn’t look for the video, it can be seen as viral. When a video is talked about and has an impact on those that watch it, the video is seen as viral.



Viral Videos – The Thumbnail Appeal


When dealing with videos before someone even watches it, the viewer looks at the thumbnail for the video. This is a first impression on viewers that can make a video stand out, whether the video is part of an already popular channel or a one-off upload. It all depends on the appeal of the thumbnail people use for the videos that can attract new/more views.

Looking at the following thumbnails for the YouTube channel Shep689 there is a significant increase in the amount of views for one video compared to the others:

viral videos shep689
Shep689 channel is a video-blogging (vlogging) channel; the videos are about the lives of the people involved. The thumbnails represent a part of what happened in the video. So why has one video seen a massive increase compared to the others? Looking at other channels like the sex appeal FailArmy and other fail/win compilations have as their thumbnails, or FreddieW with his action-packed, “what is happening” video thumbnails.

viral videos compilation

viral videos freddie

The thumbnail – acting as an insight into the video appeals to individuals. From expressing a part of a story there is this idea that viewers are more likely to watch something that shows something – sex appeal, violence, danger, an emotion or even the potential event of something happening. Going from a “that looks interesting” so I will watch it, to a “I wonder what will happen” the thumbnail of a video has a significant impact on selling the video.

Viral Videos – Actionable


There are videos on YouTube that go viral for a different reason compared to cute animals or funny sketches, these videos go viral because they have a message that promotes the viewer to do something – to take action. The action can be as small as sharing the video and promoting a change, clicking on a website to support something, or bring global attention to something that had been overlooked, much like the impact and effect KONY 2012 had on a global scale.

Videos portray action as a way to get things noticed and a way to enlighten people about issues, using the following viral video “PhoneBloks” I will explain some key points about why it went viral.

1. Relevance – [nearly] everyone has a smartphone and has similar complaints about the components of the smartphone.

2. The problem – people have stockpiles of out-dated technology that is no longer being used or has broken down. What can be done?

3. Questioning big business – the idea of “design technology that does not last” is a cash flow for big business, though has this always been the case and what can people do to stop forking out all this money? They can’t unless they create something better.

4. Solution – finding a solution that could revolutionize the amount of electronic waste that is produced by throwing out technology, this video comes up with a solution that makes sense to a viewer. Shown by each component of the phone is a different (detachable) block, the blocks connect to a base which connects everything together, with electrical signals traveling through the pins to get everything to work. If a block causes problems a simple detachment and replacement is all that is needed, instead of throwing out the entire phone.

5. The overall capabilities of the PhoneBloks – “A phone worth keeping” – selling point.

6. Action – the video asks for “your voice” to get this idea running and encourages people to help in making this idea possible, by sharing “your voice”.

The video has a great selling point in what it is trying to accomplish though it is a basic idea that is just an idea trying to become reality. The video promotes subtle action by crowd-sourcing interest in the phone and getting people to show support for it to be made to show potential creators of the PhoneBloks that people want it.

Viral Videos – Identifiable and Relatable


Looking at viral videos what is relatable and/or identifiable about the context of the video what makes it so appealing that people want to share it and talk about it? Let us have a look at a viral video and try and see what is relatable and identifiable about it. By relatable we mean something that can be connected to – usually through feelings, by identifiable we mean something that is worth our attention.

The following viral video was up loaded to YouTube on September 11, 2013, I am writing this blog post on September 16, 2013. Since the video got uploaded it has attainedĀ 8,082,477 views and is continuing to get more as I write this. The video is showing a surprise wedding proposal in a Home Depot with family and friends dancing to the tune of “Somebody loves you” by Betty Who.

There are a number of characteristics that work together to show why this video went viral:
1. Surprise – people like to see other people expressing emotions. Surprise is a basic human emotion, which I have explained in this past blog post.

2. The Wedding proposal – the ever loving moment between two people, it is a step nearly every loving couple will have, so why not get it recorded – so other people can compare or dream about how they want theirs.

3. Dancing – you’re either good at it or you’re not. A form of expression and interest to many that has been the main part in Hollywood films and has been a part of the most successful viral video, Psy’s “Gangnam Style”.

4. Music – is remarkable, music is all around us throughout life, people use it as a tool of comfort when feeling ups or downs, it is can be used to trigger memories of peoples past or set a scene for movies.

5. Raw emotion – the raw emotion on Spencer’s face appeals to how people would feel when watching, not knowing how things will turn out – living in the moment, type of deal. Feeling what someone else was feeling.

6. Gay marriage – a worldwide discussion that is identifiable and relatable to politics today. Marriage equality is a big issue in many countries and to have the display of love and affection that is shown in this video – this video may not change anyone’s mind, but shows dedication and interest in what same-sex couples would do to show their partner and the world that what they have is the same as what everyone else has.

Each aspect of this video works together to appeal to an audience, the high-energy dancing to the raw emotion, to the fact that it is a same-sex couple involved is relatable to people who watch it and would share it.

There are other aspects of this video that can also explain why it went viral – though are best mentioned in further posts.

Viral Videos – Emotion and Scarcity


Looking through the videos I watch on YouTube and other social media sites they all provoke some type of emotion that makes me want to watch it and share it. Though, how does one simple identify what emotion has a greater effect on the viewer – enough to make them continue watching and share it?

There is the idea that each individual has their own taste in videos – as they do in other aspects of their lives such as clothes, food and friends. Though when it comes to the basic human emotions, they are universally understood regardless of individuality, these emotions are Anger, Disgust, Fear, Happiness, Sadness and Surprise – utilizing these emotions and providing a way to evoke them in videos is seen to be a constant concept if wanting to make a video go viral.

In this post by Sprout Social, making videos resonate with the viewer is a basic step in ensuring some views and in achieving a successful video – though resonating emotion is not enough. Contrasted by this Quartz article coincidentally named “The secret to viral success is there is no secret to viral success” breaking down the idea that the popularity of anything viral on the internet is the collective combination of popular past ideas and adding a little twist.

Quarts post mentions that the idea of makes something viral – when dealing with advertising, is scarcity and keeping a secret idea, much like taking something already made and adding some “secrets” to it to create a new product. As understandable as it works for products the idea for multiple viral videos to be taken from one simple idea falls short – such as the Harlem Shake – everyday there was more and more videos relating to the Harlem Shake from places all over the world in all different styles – people lost interest, the Harlem Shake was no longer scarce so therefore no longer unique and interesting to share.

Viral Videos – Advertising


Social media has impacted today’s advertising and marketing area in such a way that to get global attention for a product all you need to do is upload it on a medium that has a global audience – such as YouTube.

The phenomenon that YouTube allows advertisements and commercials for products allows for a new market where people offer their ‘expertise’ in being able to create a viral video, to display a product and market it to get a better audience and reaction then what television, billboards, magazines or the radio could ever do.

I will be searching and posting blogs about the differences and similarities that go into the creation of viral videos. There are a lot of websites and blogs that talk about a viral video and explain why it became viral, there are also sites that sell their ability and expertise of making viral videos though never link to a video they have created.

Hopefully by the end of my research I will have collected enough information and material to explain what aspects are important in creating a viral video and being able to create a viral video myself.

Starting off, looking at the site 5 Common Characteristics Of A Viral Web Video the writer mentions and relates 5 aspects/concepts to viral videos. The 5 common characteristics being:
– Universal Appeal
– Short and Simple
– Emotional Content
– Actionable
– Identifiable and Relatable
These concepts will be talked about in detail in further posts and also be compared to what other websites think are necessary concepts in making successful viral videos.

There are a lot of videos to start watching so I better get started!