Hello all. It's time for another of our weekly Viral Video Round Ups, where we spotlight some of the more recent viral successes and try to figure out what makes them tick. We have a nice mix this week of amateur and professional content, so let's get right to it. Here are this week's viral examples:
The Art Student
Art students are pretty amazing. If your high school and college experiences were anything like mine, you probably knew a few art students that were obscenely talented. The Internet has created an outlet that many of these artists wouldn't have had otherwise, and that's especially true of video.
Our first example, "A Brief History Of Pretty Much Everything," comes from an art student, and this video is essentially his final project. It's a flip-book animation of his own drawings and artwork, giving a visual history of the planet. It's pretty entertaining—it even has sound effects.
Check it out:
The video was posted in early January, and has over 1.5 Million views. Bitly.tv's viral-tracking service tells me that the video has only recently gone viral.
There are many elements that I believe led to this particular video's viral success. First, it's a student project. The absence of a marketing message can break down our cynical walls and open us up in ways that "commercials" cannot.
Second, it's pretty clever, contains some humor, and shows a lot of artistic potential. I'm sure he got an A.
Finally, we again have the aspect of hard work. This flipbook clearly took a very long time and more patience than I care to fathom—in fact, it took drawings on over 2100 individual pages to compile the piece. That's determination.
Combining all three of these aspects makes it easy to see how this video was able to go viral. I'm sure we have more greatness from this individual to look forward to.
The Intermission Entertainment
Most of you have probably already heard about or watched the New York Rangers hockey fan's failed marriage proposal, where his shocked girlfriend chooses to walk out of the arena instead of marry him… all on the jumbotron.
You probably also know that it's now been confirmed as a fake. The New York Rangers organization has a staff devoted to what's called in-game entertainment—every professional sports team does. They create, coordinate, and execute the live events that helps keep the ticket-buying fans entertained during downtime in the game.
This fake proposal and reaction was just an elaborate attempt at entertainment and humor by the Rangers staff. In fact, I'm guessing they never planned on anyone outside the 18,000 fans in attendance from ever seeing or hearing about it. If you haven't seen it yet, you can take a look:
But, as is common these days at public events, someone in the crowd was running a video camera, and caught the whole thing on tape. One quick upload to YouTube later, and a few million people have seen it and are debating its authenticity.
This went viral for a bunch of reasons—it's far from the first rejected-marriage-proposal video that's gotten popular online… there's almost a cottage industry of videos like this. Probably the biggest reason for its viral ascent is how well it walks the line between seeming to be real and feeling fake. If you can make the viewer who sees your video immediately ask, "Was that real or fake?" then you're well on your way to viral success. It's like politics—the more polarizing the video, the more likely it is that you'll go viral.
As a serious hockey fan myself, I can tell you that part of me wants to write an entire article about how cool it is that there's an in-game-entertainment staff full of so much creativity. I'm used to the standard rock band, mascot antics, and t-shirt cannons. My guess would be that most of the fans in attendance that evening were glued to the jumbotron while the whole thing went down… which is kind of the definition of holding the audience's interest during intermission.
(For another example of "outside the box" thinking by sporting-event-coordinators, see this video).
Yes, my final example is the now-overplayed We Are The World remake. Before you scoff at my lack of originality in this choice, know that it has received over 10 million times on just the YouTube version (there are versions on almost every major video portal, each with a huge amount of views). That's a serious accomplishment in the world of viral marketing, considering the video is just 7 days old.
Stars are what make this video successful… celebrities. I'm pretty sure you could get all these people together to record Mary Had A Little Lamb and it would get 10 million views, maybe even more.
You and I don't have the luxury of utilizing famous people in our viral efforts. But in giving credit to the celebrity aspect of this video's success, let's not overlook the second major factor: a good cause. Just like the first incarnation of We Are The World, the new version has a greater purpose than just an all-star jam session. The proceeds are going to Haiti relief, which is as important a charitable cause as I can think of.
Unfortunately, while the video has "gone viral" and amassed millions of views, the actual sales of the song have lagged. And the sales are where a lot of the charity comes in—of course, the video also details other ways for viewers to donate, such as the 50555 text messaging method.
It's not every day we Internet marketers see a video go from zero to 10 million views in 7 days. It's hard to argue with the viral-ness of such a thing. Even when celebrities are not included in a viral effort, if there is a good cause behind it… and the video itself entertains… you have a great head start.