Some weeks are more difficult than others for me when it comes to finding quality viral success stories to include in my weekly Round Up. This week was easy… so easy it became hard, because there were too many stories I wanted to tell and not enough space for all of them. Very few branded video efforts this week, as the non-famous take a turn at center stage. Let's get going:
The Average Joes
A curious viral video success from this week is the YouTube All-Stars (my name for them) and their version of We Are The World. Not content to let the famous actors and singers from the official 25th anniversary recording of the song hog all the charity-donating glory, a group of relatively unknown YouTube singing stars decided to record their own version. While many of this video's participants have had their own moderate YouTube success, they are each non-celebrities, without recording contracts or a face People magazine would place on its cover.
There is an impressive amount of editing work behind this video, as 57 singers recorded themselves singing the song. The end product represents 3 days of editing work by Lisa Lavie—who created and coordinated the entire effort.
A couple of other notes of coolness about this video:
- Just like the official We Are The World video, all the proceeds for this version are going to Haiti relief. Awesome. They've prominently displayed links on the YouTube page to how people can donate, and are talking up the charity aspect in every media piece I've seen about the video. Good for them.
- These guys are good. The vocal quality on this recording is nearly as good as the original. It's easy to forget how many truly talented people never get their big break, and the video serves as a good reminder at the serious abilities of some of YouTube's less famous content creators. I was genuinely surprised and impressed with the singing voices involved in this project.
Check it out:
Now the lesson here—in my opinion—isn't so much about taking on the big guys. But rather, it's in the little guys banding together. Each of these YouTube artists already has some level of a following. By pooling their talents, they were able to reach a much larger audience than any one of them likely could have on their own. In my own consulting practice, I'm seeing more and more small businesses that want to make a splash online joining their efforts with other like-minded companies. In doing so, they double their creative output along with doubling their reach through the combined customer bases of both companies. Don't be afraid to team up with another "little guy" on your viral efforts, because the benefits can be enormous.
In the offline business world, everyone knows that "sex sells.” In the viral video world, destruction is just as good a piece of bait as any other. With their "Will It Blend" series, Blendtec has been destroying various common objects in their industrial-strength blenders for years, to great success. Just a few weeks ago I saw a viral video from Daniel Tosh, where he literally teed off with a golf club on a new iPad. Just this week even, we saw another new viral video emerge of some poor guy's girlfriend destroying his Xbox 360—pretty sure it's fake, as is this earlier similar video of a gal breaking a PS3.
There's just something about seeing someone destroy something of value—particularly tech gadgets—that draws in the viewers. It's easy to understand why, as nearly all of us have days when the stress and the frustration build up. We all have days when we want to smash things… most of us just don't go through with it. Seeing those who do act on impulse and destroy something just clicks with people—I'm sure it's some vicarious catharsis for us.
Now here's a professor that has decided his class needed a major object lesson in either chemistry or attention spans… or both. Take a look:
The description clearly says that the event was staged—making the video's success even more interesting. There are clearly students laughing and chuckling, suggesting they knew it was an object lesson and not a real angry teacher. And you can even see the professor kind of half-smile a few times. Usually a video like this will play up the doubt in the viewer's mind as to the authenticity of the event. In this case, it appears that pure demolition is the real push behind the viral success.
There's an added viral success element here, and that's the "clever professor" angle. I've seen several videos go viral that contain unusually creative teachers or professors doing something original in the classroom—right now the one that comes to mind is this one.
But the real success here is driven by destruction. Heck, even one of my small business clients had some relative viral success (on a local community level) by tossing a server down a set of concrete stairs and uploading it to YouTube. As much as my mother might wince at this advice… consider destroying something—it should be something you own, and obviously something related to your industry or brand or service--just make sure you film it when you do, because it's tough to go viral with a video that doesn't exist.
The Mini Miracle Coach
Our last example hit YouTube in the Summer of 2009. So by my usual standards… it's not recent enough to be included. However, there is a current events tie.
The video is of a 4-year-old kid (he goes by "Rizzo" online) who lives in the Nashville area—as I do—who is a huge hockey fan. He's also a huge fan of the movie Miracle, which stars Kurt Russell as the coach of the 1980 "Miracle On Ice" team. This young man has memorized the big speech that the coach gives the team before the game where they eventually upset the Russian superstars. He even has the vocal inflections and pauses right. It's pretty incredible. Go ahead and watch him:
If you're not familiar with the movie, you can watch the film version of the speech (which Rizzo is parroting) here.
This video was definitely viral in the Nashville community when it appeared. The local NHL team, the Predators, have featured the video on the Jumbotron during games—they've even had him come in-person for a public recreation of his performance. He's a local star.
But in recent weeks, the current U.S. Olympic team has drawn inspiration from the little guy, and actually flew him (and his father) to Vancouver to deliver "the speech" in person. Man, the kid's only 4, but that has to be one of the coolest moments he'll ever experience.
There are lots of mini-lessons in this video's success story. We've already talked a lot about how cute kids rule YouTube, and cute kids that are also talented are even more primed to go viral. Additionally, spoofing or mimicking something already-famous (which we've already talked about today with the We Are The World cover) is a fantastic and proven method to give yourself a kick-start to viral success.
In summary, don't be afraid to pool resources with other businesses in your community or industry, combining your creativity, talent, and audience. There's viral strength in numbers. Don't be afraid to break something to make a point—many viewers will flock to your video on the merit of pure destruction alone. And don't underestimate the magnetic power of a cute and talented kid.
Until next week's Round Up—best of luck to all of you in your viral video efforts!