It's Friday, which means I've got another batch of viral success stories to share with you from the week. As usual, there are far more great videos to learn from than I have room for in this column. But we've chosen some gems, and hopefully we can break them apart and analyze them to find the catalyst ingredients that helped propel these videos to popularity. Without further ado:
The Cat Blooper
Cat videos are one of the more popular styles of viral videos. They're a personal favorite for me as well—I've got nothing but love for dogs, too, but was simply raised in a household that always had crazy cats. So I enjoy seeing videos that have felines for stars. Fortunately for me, there will always be an endless supply of new cats doing new strange things.
This first example this week, entitled Funny Kitten Can't Jump, has nearly 700,000 views in just five days. It's pretty much what the title and opening screenshot suggest it is, but that doesn't make it any less hilarious and cute. Check it out:
Now, in defense of the cat, it's not fair to say that he can't jump. Clearly he's a kitten, still learning what he can and can't do physically. But also… it's the table's fault he misses that jump, because it's so slippery that his back paws can't get enough traction to make the leap. Had his feet not slipped out from under him, he would probably have made that jump.
Animals are—pardon the pun—viral catnip. Especially animals that are cute or exceptional in some way. And a growing sub-genre involves animal bloopers (remember the sleeping dog who woke from a dream about running to smack straight into a wall?). So long as the animal featured doesn't appear to have suffered any permanent damage, the YouTube audience seems to enjoy seeing them make mistakes and have cute accidents like this one.
I'm still waiting for a pet-related brand to jump into this market. Instead of the phony television commercials we're used to from them—where a perfectly manicured cat trots into the kitchen to eat daintily from a glass dish—I'm waiting for one of them to scrap convention and realize that the public is in love with real pets… doing real things. Maybe even pay for the rights to one of these cat-related viral hits and use the footage in a commercial… or hold a contest for "best cat blooper" and mine the user submissions for commercial content.
It seems like every week there's a new cat or dog clip that goes viral. Sooner or later, businesses and brands are going to realize that and start taking advantage.
I promise this is not Cat Week here at the Viral Video Round Up. I did not set out to find and feature only videos about felines. It just so happens that two of the biggest blips on this week's viral radar happen to involve cats.
This second cat example, though, actually features big game cats—tigers, cheetahs, and leopards. It seems as though Big Cat Rescue, the makers of this video, frequently get questions from park visitors about whether or not the animals like catnip like their domesticated counterparts.
So they decided to find out:
So then… the answer is a resounding "yes!” Big cats do love catnip, and it's just as entertaining to watch as it is with domestic cats—maybe even more so. Except for the lion, who was apparently not interested in the least.
We've already talked about how popular animals are in the world of viral videos, and these animals are also exotic (meaning we aren't as used to seeing them) and behaving adorably.
But what else about this clip helped push it above the competition? That's easy… it's the "never been seen" effect. Raise your hand right now if you have ever seen a video, prior to today, of big game cats getting high on catnip. That's what I thought. It's an entertaining experience to see these beasts of the jungle rolling around goofy-eyed like they haven't a care in the world.
The video has 330,000 views as I write this, but has only been online for three days. That's a serious climb up the charts.
This is the perfect video to mention a strategy I see being used more and more to great effect: taking a well-established concept (like animals, or cats) and creating a video that also combines in something never seen before (like tigers on catnip). The initial audience will come because they like the well-established concept already—my mother will watch any cat video she hears about. The long-term audience, which is the viral audience, will come because of the never-before-seen element, which causes folks to start sharing the video like crazy.
Pretty good publicity for BigCatRescue.org, don't you think?
YouTube user Freddie25 created a medley of television show theme songs back in March, which I wrote about in this column. And now he's back with another medley, this time for video games.
This time there's no second version of himself to sing along with… just a guitar and Freddie… and a trip down memory lane (at least for anyone that's played video games in the last twenty years). Check it out:
The single best thing about this video, aside from his musical ability, is the made up lyrics for these songs. Most video game music is instrumental… to help set the mood when you're playing. And while the melodies become as familiar as top 40 songs to those that play the games repeatedly, there aren't any words associated with them. So Freddie made some up, and they are pretty funny at times.
I'm always happy to feature videos from talented individuals who have a creative flair to match their musical ability. This is not a major brand. This is not even a small business. It's just a guy with talent who continues to come up with viral video ideas that have mass appeal.
This is just another example of taking a viral video staple—musical ability in this case—and combining it with something we haven't seen before—a video game medley with custom-written lyrics. There's a nostalgia factor at work here too, which a lot of viral videos have leveraged to great success. Anyone that was a semi-serious gamer back in the day will have an almost immediate interest in this piece.
If I had more time, I would also have featured:
- This video of singer Robbie Williams enticing the crowd to participate in a camera-flash experiment
- This video purporting to contain every single lightsaber ignition and retraction from all the Star Wars movies… in order.
- This video of Shaq having a bit of a dance-off with Justin Bieber
- This video of an absolutely jaw-dropping catch by a Japanese baseball player.