Viral Video Marketing Round Up – Lessons From This Week’s Viral Video Successes - 11/07/2009

It's time again for another Viral Round Up (it's actually a day or so past the time for another Viral Round Up, and I'm hoping you'll forgive my tardiness).

As usual, the past week offers us several examples of viral success—some intentional, some accidental, and all holding valuable lessons for us video marketers.  Let's dig in.

1. The Misbehaving Athlete

Seems like nearly every week there's a white-hot YouTube video of an athlete—usually in college—misbehaving on the field of play.  There was that "sucker punch" video from the first week of the college football season, and more recently there was a popular video online of a now-famous eye-gouging incident.

Seems like sooner or later athletes would catch on and realize that everything they do on the field is probably being film and scrutinized.

Of course, if you're talking about women's collegiate soccer, it might be easier for participants to assume they aren't on camera since that sport isn't quite as popular as NCAA football.  But they'd be wrong, as the poor girl in the video below has certainly learned.  Just watch:

Now, I have some opinions about this gal's name getting out and I'm quite sure her life is going to be miserable for the near future, now that the entire world has seen her not-so-good sportsmanship in action.  And I think that's a shame.  But I also think she's growing up in the digital age, when actions only seen by 50 people as they happen can then be seen by millions after the fact, and some of this she's just going to have to own up to and learn to live with.  Is it possible to think she's completely in the wrong here and still feel sorry for her?  Because if so… that's where I am.

So why did this go viral?  Well, it's sports-related, and America loves sports.  It's got violence mixed with sports, which helps it's chances.  Then roll in the fact that this violence is occurring in what is traditionally a non-violent sport:  women's soccer.  You can't really beat that for "you've got to see this" potential.

And while I think there's plenty of embarrassment to go around from this video's release and rise to popularity, there are plenty of people benefiting from it as well.  For instance, I doubt ESPN is disappointed to see this particular section of their news coverage go viral.  And while the universities involved are probably wishing things had gone differently, there's a measurable benefit to publicity like this, even when it's perceived as being mostly negative.

I can tell you this:  the whole thing should have church softball leagues quaking in their boots.

2. The Prank

You may not know this, but Ellen Degeneres is a pretty big star.  She's got one of the most popular daytime talk shows in history, and often has memorable segments.  One of her favorite things to do, apparently, is prank celebrities.

She set up a hidden camera, and then hid in the fake dressing room they had set up for Taylor Swift.  Taylor walks in, Ellen jumps out and screams, Taylor falls down hyperventilating… and a good time was had by all.

It's gotten nearly 4 Million views in just one week.  Go ahead and take a look, there's a good chance you'll enjoy it:

So what made this video go viral?  A lot of things.  First, you've got Ellen's preexisting popularity.  Second, you have Taylor Swift's built-in popularity (which may actually be bigger than Ellen's, come to think of it).  Then you have the Halloween tie-in with both the topic (costumed Ellen doing "scare" pranks) as well as the video's launch date (day before Halloween).  So it's kind of a perfect storm.

And I love that Ellen's big prank is essentially the most basic prank you can play on someone… hide and then jump out and scare them.  I mean, who hasn't done that in their youth (or even, ahem, in college… or later).  Love that there's no elaborate set up… that it's a prank anyone could have pulled.  And I think that aided in the video's popularity.

Prank videos, like flash mobs and hidden camera skits, are always good fodder for viral videos.

3. The Quick Reaction

Our final spotlight viral success is a fantastic object lesson for major corporations around the world, and I hope they take notice.

First, we have to set the scene.  You may have heard about a recent popular video of a bad parking job by a BMW driver that ultimately destroyed an innocent person's Hyundai.  You can watch it here if you haven't seen it yet.  It's about what you'd expect.  The video hit YouTube barely two weeks ago and quickly racked up more than 2 Million views.  But that's only the beginning.

What I want to talk about is Hyundai's reaction to the video.  Where millions simply saw another bad parking job video, some creative thinker at Hyundai saw an opportunity.

They went back to the scene of the original video's events, bringing with them a brand new Hyundai, which they presented to the poor guy who's previous car had been totaled… free of charge.  A gift.

And a marketing coup.  Check it out:

This second video currently has a couple hundred thousand views, and I would think Hyundai has used it to create several thousand new fans.  This is precisely what we were all hoping United Airlines would do once the "United Loses Luggage" song went viral—react to viral publicity with a clever video of their own.  Thankfully we didn't have to wait too long for another company to step up and show us how creative companies use and respond to the Internet.

I'm not suggesting you should go around buying cars for random customers and filming it.  But there are all kinds of businesses that could easily find online video mentioning their brand.  Maybe you want to consider responding (positively, I would advise you react positively) to it in a video of your own.  You'll certainly get the original content producer's attention, and probably more.

So there you go.  More reminders that you should watch your behavior in public, another good prank video from an established entertainer not named Ashton, and a major automaker giving me hope about the future of online marketing for big business.

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About the Author -
Jeremy Scott is the founder of The Viral Orchard, an Internet marketing firm offering content writing and development services, viral marketing consulting, and SEO services. Jeremy writes constantly, loves online video, and enjoys helping small businesses succeed in any way he can. View All Posts By -

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