As you may already know, there is a rather unique new music video out right now that is exploding on social media. That video is “The Fox” from Norway-based comedy duo Ylvis, and it has everyone talking. It captured the attention of the users of Reddit within minutes of being uploaded and the Norwegian equivalent of 'The Lonely Island' are now enjoying the fruits of what was meant to be just a quick promo of their talk show. Let's take a look at the video:
- Almost 8.8 million views in less than a week, which is amazing.
- Over 1.3 million shares so far, making it the most shared video of the week.
- Perhaps the most impressive, it has a share rate of close to 1:6.5 – one out of 6.5 people or about 15 percent of viewers have gone on to share the video!
That’s why some columnists are already calling it the next “Gangnam Style.” Although, as of yesterday, “Psy - Gangnam Style (강남스타일) M/V” had close to 1.76 billion views and almost 37.8 million shares, giving it a share rate of about 1:46.6 – which means only one out of 46.6 people or 2 percent of viewers have shared the K-pop music video.
So, what does “The Fox” say to internet marketers and video content producers?
Well, if you look for a logical explanation, then you’ll never really know what crazy thing will be next. But, if you look for a sociological explanation, then “The Fox” and “Gangnam Style” are part of a predictable, primal pattern than you, too, can employ.
This pattern is as primal as the “Evolution of Dance – By Judson Laipply.” As of yesterday, the inspirational comedian’s video had more than 219 million views and over 1.9 million shares.
And this pattern is as predictable as the “Harlem Shake (original army edition).” As the YouTube Trends team reported on Feb. 12, 2013, “around 12,000 ‘Harlem Shake’ videos had been posted since the start of the month and they’d already been watched upwards of 44 million times.”
So, what made these videos go viral? Well, you can forget the lyrics. Some of videos mentioned above don’t have them and others are as forgettable as “Joff-tchoff-tchoffo-tchoffo-tchoff!” And it’s wasn’t the music – at least, not by itself. It was all the crazy dance moves!
Now, dancing has been an important part of ceremonies, rituals, celebrations and entertainment since before the birth of the earliest human civilizations. Dance is performed in many cultures as a form of emotional expression or social interaction. And it is sometimes used to express ideas or tell a story.
That’s why dance is often the secret sauce that makes some videos more shareable than we might suspect. It creates the psychological responses and social motivations that affect “sharability.”
Admit it. No one would have asked, “Where the Hell is Matt?” in 2006, 2008, or 2012, if “Dancing Matt” Harding hadn’t done his stupid dance everywhere he went.
And, why is the parody, “Captain Kirk watches Miley Cyrus performance,” so damn funny? It isn’t because the former star of Hannah Montana was singing at MTV’s Video Music Awards. It’s because she was twerking.
So, how can you employ this predictable, primal pattern in your social videos?
Let me share a story from the second edition of my book, YouTube and Video Marketing: An Hour a Day. The story is about “The T-Mobile Dance,” which was uploaded on Jan. 16, 2009, and currently has 42 million views and 755,000 shares. The so-called “Ambient Advert” was created by Saatchi & Saatchi.
(I realize that quoting yourself is like taking a selfie. But remember all the trouble that Jonah Lehrer got into for failing to disclose that he had recycled his own earlier work? So, it seems prudent to let you know that the next 7 paragraphs are “self-plagiarized.”)
According to a case study by MediaCom, which handled the media planning and buying for the campaign, “We decided to create a live event so memorable that people just had to share it. At 11am on 15th January a single commuter started dancing. Moments later hundreds more joined in, including hundreds of genuine members of the public. Everybody there enjoyed a moment worth sharing.”
According to MediaCom, “The event was so memorable the public took their mobile phones out to share it with calls, texts, photos and videos. The dance became news in its own right, covered on national TV news, national press, radio phone-ins and bloggers.”
MediaCom reported that T-Mobile got £1.2 million worth of free media and press coverage. For example, the Sun newspaper in the UK described it as an “epidemic of joy.” More importantly, T-Mobile saw a 52 percent increase in sales from the previous year – in a recession.
There’s also a second case study by Unruly Media, which was called in to provide social media outreach services for the campaign. Although “The T-Mobile Dance” was rushed out within 24 hours of the event, the creative for other paid media wasn’t going to be available until the end of the following week because of production constraints. MediaCom asked Unruly Media to compensate for this potentially quiet period by making the video ubiquitous online.
Unruly quickly got the video out to flash mob fans, who had been carefully identified and qualified over the previous week. Hundreds of bloggers embedded the clip, which racked up 1 million views on YouTube over the first weekend. On Monday morning, Unruly took over popular video sharing applications within Facebook to make the video as easy as possible to rediscover and as frictionless as possible to forward on to friends and colleagues during the week-long hiatus before other online creative became available.
The clip spread like wildfire. For every person viewing the video, it was forwarded to an average of 3.6 other people, leading to 1.8 million forwards within Facebook alone. More than 50 T-Mobile Dance groups formed on Facebook, often to organize similar events at other UK rail stations.
According to Unruly, “Dance demonstrates a nuanced and sophisticated appreciation of the types of content that people want to share and the motivations driving them. Eschewing overused viral triggers such as sex, shock, and humour, Dance taps into people’s propensity to feel touched, inspired and uplifted.”
Two years later, Saatchi & Saatchi harvested this insight when it created “The T-Mobile Royal Wedding.” Uploaded on Apr. 15, 2011, the wedding entrance dance to top all wedding entrance dances currently has close to 27.4 million views and almost 1.8 million shares.
More recently, the predictable, primal power of dance was employed in “baby&me / the new Evian film.” Published on Apr. 19, 2013, dancing with my baby-me currently has almost 61 million views and close to 3.1 million shares.
And “Three – The Pony #DancePonyDance” illustrates that you should never underestimate the power of dancing. Published on Feb. 28, 2013, the video of a plucky little pony currently has more than 7.2 million views and over 1 million shares.
So, if some columnists laugh at you, keep telling yourself what George Carlin said: “Those who dance are considered insane by those who cannot hear the music.”
And if your boss or client asks why you’ve got people or animals dancing in your next video, politely inform him or her of what Robert Frost once said: “Dancing is a vertical expression of a horizontal desire.”