Online video is changing all the time, as are the tastes of the online video-viewing public. We're a fickle lot, quick to grow bored of trends and always on the lookout for something fresh. However, some genres of viral video have stood the test of time, such as animal videos, clips of adorable children, and video demonstrations of exceptional talent. These kinds of videos have proven they are more than trends, and on any given week you can find viral hits of each variety.
This week, we have fantastic examples of such videos to examine in our constant quest to better understand the video viewer and the video marketplace.
Without further ado, let's jump into trying to ascertain what made these clips go viral:
Dogs Behaving Oddly
When your dog knows a unique trick, or repeats an odd behavior, you'd be wise to whip out a Flip camera and film it. Because there seems to be no end in sight for the online communities love of funny dog videos.
One such example, which actually was uploaded in March (though it only went viral this week) involves a Chihuahua escaping his man-made prison. It's a series of funny moments followed by eventual freedom. I'm having trouble getting this video to embed properly, but it's extremely funny, and you can go check it out here.
With this week's unusually high number of animal-related viral hits, I thought it would be okay to toss in another funny dog clip.
Jack is a terrier, and doesn't seem to understand the concept of escalators—which makes sense since jack is a dog. He can tell that he's moving forward, though, and so he subconsciously moves his paws as he would if he were walking. And the result is hilarious:
Okay, okay… one final dog clip… the man who taught his dog to pray before every meal:
So what is the moral of the story? What can we video creators and marketers learn from these successes? Well, nothing I haven't said a hundred times before: cute animals rule the Internet. Sure, most of the animal clips that go viral are just home videos shot by random strangers who just happened to capture strange behavior on film.
But why does it have to end there? Why can't individuals and brands start with the premise that dogs or cats are popular online, and build a video concept around that? One that works for the branding purposes of the creator in addition to appealing to animal lovers?
Which leads me straight into our second example of the week…
The Viral Pros
You didn't think I was going to leave out the latest viral smash hit from OK Go, did you? If there were awards given out for bands that make great viral videos for their songs, OK Go would have won every one. Every time I think the band is nearing the end of its run with stellar videos, they go and top themselves again.
The boys of OK Go clearly have a thing for one-take shots—where the entire 3-minute video is one long, continuous shot. That is probably a maddening process that requires numerous takes and rigorous rehearsal—but the band has already proven they're up for a challenge and not shy about embracing hard work.
Which is why they decided to complicate their lives even further this time, by filming a one-take video that involved dogs. Twelve different dogs—most with their own off-screen trainers—and even one goat. This video took 124 takes before they got it right. Yikes. But their toil is your entertainment, as evidenced by the end result:
Now, OK Go has a reputation for making great online videos. So they're always going to have a built in advantage in going viral. But it's refreshing to see that they haven't taken that for granted. They don't stop and rest on their laurels. Instead, they're continually trying to push the envelope and challenge themselves even further creatively. Which is, ultimately, what drives their popularity. The public is fickle… and if the band released just a few mediocre videos, the candle of their fame would begin to flicker.
But constant innovation, creativity, and demonstrated hard work endear the band to the public, and actually propels their popularity upward.
It's a fine example of taking one popular video genre—cute dogs, trained dogs—and twisting it to your own purpose. And that's the kind of lesson this column was designed to teach. Learn from the masters of OK Go.
You know how sometimes a movie will show you bloopers and outtakes during the closing credits? And sometimes those bloopers are the funniest thing about the movie? That's kind of what I mean by calling this third video a "happy accident.”
When one is making a video, there's an awful lot of footage that ends up on the cutting room floor. Pay close attention to this footage, because there might be something wonderful contained in it.
Similarly, when filming with animals or other people in an unscripted shoot, things can get a little… unpredictable. You never know when something unexpected is going to happen—and sometimes it produces a video that's better than anything you could have planned to do. Case in point, our final example of the week, from IntoTheDrink.TV. Into The Drink is an alcohol and travel show that runs on HDNet. In this clip, what started out as a standard dive shoot with manta rays turned into something else altogether when one of the rays stole the camera rig and took on the role of cinematographer himself. Take a look:
Just awesome. And no way in the world that someone could plan this. In fact, if you planned it, you'd probably go insane trying to stage it and force it to happen. This is one of those moments where nature just took over. The moment itself grew into something unique and hard to believe.
The moral? Don't let your plan be so rigid that you can't adapt to happy accidents or bloopers. Some of the best movie lines in history have been spontaneous ad-libs. And online video can learn a lot from that—always allow yourself some flexibility and be open-minded to the curve balls that human—and animal—nature will surely throw at you. You never know… you might just score an unexpected home run.
I wanted to include these videos as well, but ran out of space—and yes, this week's animal trend continues even in our Honorable Mention section:
- This kitten who isn't very scared of this large dog.
- This kitten who is both playful and starving… at the same time.
- The new Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows trailer is pretty spectacular.
- A tiny child rocking out to some classic Michael Jackson.