Welcome back to our weekly series recapping the very latest and emerging viral video success stories.  The hope is that we can learn a bit from these stories, and eventually get better over time at crafting and promoting our own viral video content.

Let's dig in, shall we?

Learn To Laugh At Yourself

I first learned of this video on a social bookmarking site—don't remember which one—but I've started seeing it pop up on various blogs and news sites in the days since.

The video shows professional angler (that's fisherman, to you and I who don't travel in such circles) Drew Gregory.  You can look him up if you like, or you can take my word for it that he's one of the top guys in his profession.  In the video in question, Drew is filming himself while he fishes—probably something he's done a thousand times.  This time, however, he has company… a pair of friendly geese.

After a while, one of them turns suddenly and hilariously unfriendly.  Just watch:

Now, there are two great lessons from this example:

  1. Don't be afraid to laugh at yourself.  Posting your personal embarrassment online for the world to see, and having a good sense of humor about it, is a fantastic way to turn a blooper into fame.
  2. The video you shoot may end up being viral for reasons that bear no resemblance to your original intentions.  That is to say:  don't be afraid to capitalize on a video shoot gone wrong.  The best laid plans of mice and men often turn into viral gold.

The Banned Ad

The latest game in Super Bowl advertising is to submit a commercial you know is borderline objectionable (or flat-out offensive even), wait for the network to say they won't air it, then promote it online as "the banned Super Bowl ad.”  The publicity your ad gets from having been banned is probably as good as or better than having it actually show on the telecast.  And now companies are setting out to create ads with the explicit goal of having it banned.

This act was perfected by GoDaddy over the last few years, but is now being mimicked by other major brands this year.  Remember the Mancrunch ad that caused a stir last week? Same thing –I have no problem with a gay dating site advertising on the Super Bowl, but the production values of that ad are so bad that you'd think a couple high school kids shot it.  They knew they would be banned, and they set out to capitalize on that.  Good for them.

Bud Light even submitted an ad this year that was borderline—mostly because it involves nudity that is blocked by large black bars.

Sadly, it's one of those rare Super Bowl ads that actually makes you laugh.  See for yourself:

I actually think that Bud Light wanted this ad to air on the Super Bowl.  It honestly doesn't feel like an ad that was created to be over-the-top with vulgarity or offensive material.  It feels like a normal beer-based Super Bowl ad, and my guess is that CBS just balked at the implication of all that nudity.

The lesson then?  If at first you don't succeed, put the word "banned" in front of your video and watch the views skyrocket.  Or maybe the lesson is better phrased this way:  there's more than one path to viral success.  This also reinforces the lesson from the first example—that leaving yourself open to different possible uses for your video often provides a greater chance at viral success.

The Remix

One of the easiest ways to experience viral success—particularly if you are having trouble writing an original concept—is to take another popular video and chop it all up into pieces.  We've seen all kinds of variations of the remix that have gone on to viral success, such as turning audio from a film into an original song (this one's a personal favorite of mine), or recutting a movie to make a trailer that feels like another genre altogether (another gem).

Today's example of remixed footage is the video called "iPad Keynote in less than 180 Seconds.”  And it's pretty enjoyable.  The creator has taken the Steve Jobs keynote from the day they announced the iPad, and stripped out pretty much everything except Jobs' use of adjectives like "incredible," "beautiful," and "amazing.”  Give it a look—it's only 180 seconds:

Now, I'm pretty sure you could take any speech of an hour or more by darn near anyone you can think of… and edit it down in a way that makes that person look repetitive, cocky, or silly.  I don't think this video is evidence of anything beyond the fact that Steve Jobs talked—without a script—for an hour and a half, and therefore used some of the same words over and over.

But that doesn't make it any less entertaining.  The video's already more than halfway to a million views, less than four days from being posted.  The lesson?  You don't have to create your own video content from scratch to have a successful viral campaign.  In fact, sometimes it's better to use someone else's content in a new way than to choose the route of originality.

The creator of this video did one other very smart thing… he picked a hot-button issue.  As the comment total on one of my recent ReelSEO posts can attest, Apple-related content is hugely polarizing… which is a fantastic recipe for viral success.

In summary:

  • Be willing to poke fun at yourself when warranted.
  • Be open-minded about how your video might end up being used.
  • Courting controversy can pay huge dividends.

Good luck to you all in your viral campaigns this week!

Honorable Mention:

I almost included the now-famous video of the poor banker looking at a naked model on his computer while in the background of a news story camera angle (he has since lost his job).  I chose not to because almost everyone's already heard about or seen this video.  Also, it technically has nudity in it, if you count naked women on a computer screen waaaaay in the background.  And I don't want to be the guy posting objectionable videos on ReelSEO.com (I have no problem with linking to them, however).

I also wanted to include this video from current pop sensation Ke$ha, which shows her defacing the Hollywood sign.  It's pretty clearly faked, but is done so well that it's worth making an example of it. However, as I can't find any instance of the video having more than a few thousand views—despite major news coverage—I decided maybe it wasn't quite "viral" enough for this column yet.  Maybe next week.

There's also this entertaining-yet-definitely-strange Japanese commercial about a business cat.  It's just too absurd not to mention in some capacity, so… here you go.

[Video removed]