Everybody's dancing this week, or so it seems. Our first two examples are dance-related (no, not Dancing With the Stars, just regular dancing), and there are a couple videos I chose not to feature that have gone viral recently and feature dancing. Somewhere… the Evolution of Dance guy is sitting around muttering, "I did it first.” Let's dive in.
If you give anyone enough free time, they'll get pretty bored (assuming you limit their entertainment options). When they get pretty bored, they're much more likely to turn to finding humor and enjoyment in odd or stupid activities.
Like making your own lip-syncing video of Lady Gaga's song "Telephone.”
People have been filming their own lip-sync routines since video cameras came into existence. But those people have very rarely been U.S. soldiers stationed in Afghanistan. I can't set the scene any better than to simply say… here are a bunch of soldiers dancing and lip-syncing to a pop song:
This video is everywhere today. I've seen it on television, major websites like Drudge Report and Yahoo. It's blowing up. It's about a week old, and currently has about 200,000 views.
So… let's run down some of the many reasons this video is exploding with popularity.
It has U.S. Soldiers in it. Americans, by and large, support our troops—even when we might not all support their current mission. It takes a level of dedication and sacrifice to be a soldier… one that most of us can't even really fathom. So, we have a bit of a soft spot for our service men and women, rightfully so.
It also features a fairly spontaneous-looking bout of stir-crazy fun. We don't usually get to see actual video of our military personnel having fun and goofing off. This is a glimpse behind the curtain, if you will. And it produces a wave of emotions. It's a relief almost to see that there are moments of levity even in their dangerous surrounding.
It features one of the most popular songs in the world of pop music right now—anything Gaga-related seems to attract a certain level of attention. Oh, and there's a clear amount of effort and coordination that went into making this video—the choreography alone probably took longer to learn than most of these guys would admit.
Most of all… it's pretty clear that they're having fun. It's so much easier to enjoy a video when the people involved are obviously enjoying their part in making the video. Good work guys… pretty much the entire Internet is enjoying your antics today.
Time Lapse Goodness
I love a good time-lapse video. If you can throw in some tilt-shift effects as well, I'm even more game. Our second viral success this week comes from a major brand… Southwest Airlines.
Southwest is arguably one of the most effective airlines in terms of branding and messaging. The bags-fly-free ads with the baggage handlers have been huge hits with audiences, and they appear to be very conscious about the attitude and personality they try to project as a company. It's not surprising to see them release a video that goes viral.
This week—about 8 days ago, actually—they released an awesome video that shows the making of a new airplane. It's a specialty plane, with a custom paint job, and you can watch it be assembled in the Boeing facility sped-up time:
The video already has half a million views, and should be well over a million by this time next week. And it works for one very important reason: it's showing us something most of us have never seen. Sure, I've driven by the Boeing "city" in Seattle before, and it's an impressive operation—even just from the view of a passing car. But I've never seen a plane assembled. I've never seen one go from basic frame to ready-to-fly status in the span of three minutes. I've never seen an airplane receiving a custom paint job. The entire video is filled with sights that average citizens have never glimpsed.
That's why the video succeeds. Anytime you can demystify some process or procedure by taking the viewer behind the scenes… you're well on your way to a solid viral concept. Add in the sheer mammoth size of these things, and it only makes the assembly more impressive. I would imagine a similar video about the making of a submarine or aircraft carrier would be equally popular, for instance. If there's anything you or your clients can demonstrate with video that will show off a rarely seen process or act… then by all means go for it.
Making Time For The Fans
It's beginning to feel like Taylor Swift may actually be one of the nicest and coolest superstars around. The latest piece of evidence is the ultimate conclusion to the whole "A Hug From Taylor Swift" campaign. If you haven't heard about it, a couple Auburn University students—males—started an online/YouTube campaign to get Taylor Swift to hug them.
She responded with her own YouTube videos, challenging the guys to perform acts of kindness as a way of earning her hug. The guys then answered her challenge by making a series of "good deed" videos of them helping old ladies across the street and spontaneously buying gas for people.
Then… the boys staged a campus karaoke jam session on one of Taylor's greatest hits shortly before… something cool happens. Check it out:
So what makes this video a viral smash? Well, the star power of Taylor Swift doesn't hurt, that's for sure. But it's actually the act of someone so famous stopping by unexpectedly to visit with an adoring group of fans that makes this a must-watch (and a must-forward). Even if you don't enjoy her music, you can appreciate what a fine moment this must have been for the two "hugs" guys, as well as the rest of the students in the room.
The pluckiness of these two is another driving factor behind the clip's success. Who among us hasn't dreamed of meeting our favorite singer or actor? And despite that universal pipe dream, these two went out and did something about it. And because of today's social landscape online, their favorite star was able to find their plea, respond to it, and ultimate fulfill their goal and give them both a hug. Just an awesome testament to the power of YouTube, if you ask me.
If I'd had time, I would have also discussed the following viral successes:
- This video from Animal Planet of a man catching an African "river monster.”
- This amazing video from Google explaining Chrome Extensions through very non-techy means.
- This hilarious offering from the Fail Blog of one of the worst parallel parking attempts I've ever seen.
- This viral ad—done in retro style—from Pixar for a new character in their Toy Story 3 film due out this summer… one of the most convincing "retro-looking" ads I've ever seen. My coworker was convinced this was a real ad from the early 80's.