It's Friday, which means I've got another batch of the week's most popular viral videos for you, just in case you had too busy a week to keep tabs on the viral marketplace. We'll try to break each one down a bit to determine what we can learn from their example. The hope, of course, is that we end up with our own viral efforts being informed and improved, standing a much better chance of success themselves.
Let's get to it:
One of the best ways to get some viral attention in a hurry is to embrace the use of vulgar humor. While it's not for all audiences, there is a large crowd of online video fans that appreciates swearing, sexual innuendo, and crude jokes. Playing a tune that crowd enjoys is an easy way to get them to come running.
And that's just what the creator of our first example did. His YouTube account—makemebad35—has been around for three years, and he has a ton of videos that have gone viral—over 143 million views for his work. And his latest, called "How To Kiss," is sitting at 1.6 million after only six days.
Now, in case you're not connecting the dots here… let me blatantly warn you that this video has some cussing in it, okay? We're all adults here, right? It's not a Tarantino movie or anything, but it definitely contains crude humor. If you're into that… enjoy:
Now, you might think this kind of humor is juvenile. And maybe it is. But don't forget who makes up a huge portion of the YouTube viewing audience… juveniles. So there's a lesson in there about knowing what your audience likes and giving it to them. In fact, you can go back and watch some of his older clips, and they're all similar enough in style that you can tell he's already learned that lesson.
But the real lesson, I think, is that sometimes… a person's idea and natural charm can carry more weight than their actual on-camera acting ability. By that I mean that he and the girl aren't going to win any Oscars anytime soon. But that doesn't really matter, at least not to the people he's making this for.
Production values, good acting or voice-over work, and fantastic special effects are all good things for your online video efforts. But they're trumped by the idea. Give a Hollywood studio all the budget in the world, but a cruddy idea, and they'll make a cruddy movie (see 2012 or Day after Tomorrow if you have any doubt). But take a quality idea—one with freshness and a unique point of view—and production values become far less important.
All great video content starts with a good idea. You simply can't cover up a bad one with dollars and slick graphics. You can hate this guy's sense of humor all you want—that's your prerogative—but there's no denying how great an example he's setting for other amateur filmmakers in how to use your knowledge of the audience and your personality to reach millions of viewers.
There were three sports-related videos this week that were so impressive, I had a hard time picking just one. So I decided to share all three. And thankfully, they're from three different sports, which gives me a higher percentage chance that you'll be curious about at least one of them.
Hockey: The first video is a shootout clip from an AHL game—that's the minor league affiliate with the NHL. And the player in question does something I've never seen before—he uses the nose of his stick to guide the puck. And by the looks of it, even the goalie was so shocked by what he was seeing he had a hard time reacting at all. Take a look:
Soccer: If you're not aware, it's incredibly hard to score goals in soccer. It's just the nature of the game. That's why the announcers freak out so much whenever a goal happens. And it's even harder to score from halfway across the pitch, even though this gentleman makes it look easy:
College Football: If you watch American football, you've no doubt seen a play where punting team's players try and keep the kicked ball out of the endzone, pinning their opponent at the one yard line. Often, because the ball is bouncing, they'll even jump into the endzone—in the air—and tap the ball back out to a teammate who can down it. And if that kind of thing is impressive to you, then this last sports clip for today will blow your mind:
What do all three of these amazing sports moments have in common? They all feature things most of us have never seen before. Sure, they display feats of amazing talent and athletic skill—which is a huge draw for online viewers—but their popularity is just as much due to the rare nature of the accomplishments as anything else. And I've been repeating this mantra for months: if you can capture on film something most people have never seen… something most people consider a statistical impossibility… then you have a viral hit on your hands.
Rube Goldberg, who is famous for making overly complicated devices to accomplish relatively easy tasks, has influenced the world of viral video in a major way. There have been numerous viral hits over the years featuring homemade Rube Goldberg devices, and the reason is that they take a lot of effort and allow their creator to display a ton of ingenuity and personality.
Another staple genre of successful viral videos is the wedding proposal video, as viewers seem to always be in the mood to swoon over a heartfelt romantic gesture.
So what happens if you combine both of these formulas into one video? Let's find out:
Combining two known viral ingredients into one clip is a fantastic strategy for success, and this clip is no different. But there's something about this video that I'd like to point out—that I think we can learn from—but I want to be gentle about it… it's kind of anticlimactic, isn't it? I mean, we don't even get to see the machine in action once the girl shows up. We only see it in the rehearsals, which kind of robs us of the actual payoff moment.
It's poorly lit and doesn't have great audio either.
But you know what? None of that matters, really. Because it is the concept that people enjoy more than the video evidence of it. That a man would spend this much effort and time creating a personalized Rube Goldberg machine to deliver the ring for his marriage proposal… that's what sets the viewers' hearts aflutter—not how good his camera coverage was.
Why is this? Because he's not a director. He's not a filmmaker. He's a loving boyfriend—and now a fiancé. If this was being billed as a short film or some artistic achievement… things might have worked out differently. But as simple video evidence of a guy making a grand gesture of love through hard work and creativity? It's an A+. Again, as with our first example this week, heart and charm can trump production values every time. The online video audience is not so snobby that they can't appreciate a sentimental video, even if it's not the flashiest piece of content ever created.
I ran out of time, but really wanted to talk about these clips too: