You simply can't have your finger on the pulse of the viral video audience--their wants and needs as viewers--without keeping an eye on the current crop of popular videos. Brands and individuals find viral success every week, and each one can help teach video creators and marketers how to hone their craft and engage their audience.
Everyday Items In Unsual Circumstances
One of the best ways to grab and hold the audience's attention is to present some kind of fish-out-of-water scenario by taking a familiar object or person and putting it in an unusual circumstance.
You've seen plenty of pictures and videos of space shuttles in space... but have any of them been made out of Legos? That's what I thought:
Branded Video Gems
In the online video world, brands are the leaders of the pack. It's mostly a money thing--they have more of it than most of us do, which allows them to shoot more video, with better actors, and more expensive techniques and equipment. What they're doing today might not be what you're doing with online video right now, but they're the ones pushing the envelope and helping define what online video is and will be.
The Guardian has been knocking out some great video ads lately that present a serious message with just the right touch of playfulness:
One of the ways brands love to try and get viral attention and sharing action is by being shocking, daring, or just downright weird. Skittles is probably near the top of the heap when it comes to mastering the fine line between weird and disturbing:
Cupcakes are pretty popular. I'm not sure they're popular enough to warrant an ATM machine full of cupcakes, but hey... I'm certainly no expert in the field. But it's a fantastic example of creative video marketing by a smaller company. In terms of the video's concept, the company--Sprinkles--basically just filmed someone talking about the new cupcake ATM they built--which is totally real, by the way. Now the video (not to mention the publicity from places like The Huffington Post) is bringing all kinds of bonus buzz from their own community and far beyond:
[Video removed from YouTube]
What fascinates people? What makes them sit in awe and wonder at an online video? The answers to those questions are always changing, but knowing them can help a great deal when you're in the concept stage. One of the things that fascinated viewers this week was a robot, but not the kind you think. This is a robot cheetah and, um, it's pretty fast:
Remi Gaillard is quickly becoming one of the Internet's favorite pranksters. It's probably because he's funny. Here's his latest gem, an elevator prank:
Here's a stop-motion short film called Dream Music that I enjoyed a great deal:
A pretty popular and reliable type of online video is the inspirational video. Sometimes all you need is a good piece of text or a soundbite, and a piece of music. Astrophysicist Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson was asked for the most astounding fact he could think of, and the spoken portion of this video is his reply:
Kony 2012 is one of the most rapidly-viral videos in history. Four days after upload, the video is at 43 million views (as of this writing; more by the time you read this), with no sign of slowing. That's an average of almost 11 million views per day (and I'm writing this at the very, very beginning of the 4th day). I don't think I've personally seen a video go nuclear that fast since I've been working in and writing about online video. For some perspective: the Toyota "The Force" ad from last year's Super Bowl had 45 million views in all of 2011 and was the 9th most-watched video of the year. Kony 2012 has that number in four freaking days. Unbelievable.
There are a ton of great lessons video creators and marketers can learn from the video--regardless of your politics--and Chris Atkinson even wrote about several of them.
Movies & Trailers
Teasing a forthcoming piece of content isn't an easy task. You have to show enough to get the viewer interested, while not tipping your hand so much that you give away everything that's coming in the final product. When you walk that fine line perfectly, you can leverage online video to drive interest and awareness. In a lot of ways, the "trailer" is a marketing format that is tailor made for online video, as video game and movie companies keep proving every week.
Sim City was once one of the most popular PC game franchises around, but it's been several years since there's been a new one. That all changes next year, according to the trailer for Sim City 5:
Men In Black 3 will come out this summer, whether you like it or not. And while I've seen plenty of unimpressed reactions from critics about this new trailer, the public seems to like it:
Americans love Pixar so much, it's easy to forget the rest of the world loves them too. Here's a trailer for this summer's Brave that was created for Japanese audiences:
I haven't played any of the Assassin's Creed games, but I know they're massively popular, and they've always looked sort of cool to me. And the third edition of the game scored a huge hit this week with a trailer that reveals the game's story takes place during the American Revolution: