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I’ve got a cold, it sucks. I am one of the worst kind of people when it comes to getting sick as I suffer from the classic predicament known as ‘Man-Flu-itis’. This means that whenever I get ill I always make it look ten times worse than anybody else who had it before me. However, I am taking one for the team by not being off work today… I’m so playing the martyr card.

Now, with me being ill I am thinking about viral stuff.

For those of you that don’t know what a ‘viral’ video is, let me point you in the direction of a quick guide to viral video at Wikipedia. It’s a word that gets thrown around a lot in the organisation I work in and yet I think the actual reality isn’t quite understood.

Firstly I think it is really important to distinguish between an ‘online video clip’ and an ‘online video clip that has gone viral’. It is the ‘gone viral’ part that is most important as I think there is always the confusion that whenever you are wanting to make a video that you want to be popular online you refer to it as a viral video, when in fact it has to ‘go viral’ in order to ‘become viral’. Dan Greenburg writes a great (if somewhat shady) article about how to make videos go viral, it’s interesting reading.

Have I lost anyone yet? No? Good.

Now there are some great examples of where a viral video has taken off and grown to crazy numbers, a quick scan of the Youtube highest rated videos shows it littered with music video premières, dance crazes, comedy clips and usually at some point either a child or animal doing something stupid. All of these, apart from the music videos (these tend to rate high due to already existing fan bases that come to view the videos early), share a quality that makes them ‘sticky’. So sticky that people want to share them with other people, therefore making them go viral.

A great example I got pointed to today by Vicki Fox – researcher extraordinaries – was a music video by an artist called Soulja Boy. The music track was called Crank That and in the video there was a dance routine. Not only did the video do great numbers, but Soulja followed it up with an instructional video on how to do the dance. This then led to lots of different members of the Youtube audience then submitting their versions of the dance. I haven’t done the maths, but the viewers that will have been exposed to Souljas song as a result of this is huge… We’re talking millions and millions. Now that’s a viral.

It’s hard to predict what is going to get sticky and what isn’t and a good example of where a brand has made a big mistake is with Lambrini and their ‘Do The Lambrini’ Youtube and TV advertising campaign. Due to the fact that they were in fact copying a Youtube craze called Jumpstyle and passing it off as their own didn’t go down well at all and resulted in negative videos from Youtube viewers showing their anger. The numbers say it all. Lambrini got about 21,000 views. Jumpstyle has to date over 10 million views.

I feel that online short form videos are getting much better, especially in regard to output from TV producers. The trick seems to be in creating unique bespoke content for the online platform that isn’t re-formatted material from a TV programme or bits from the cutting room floor. Viewers respond to video that is written, shot and produced specifically with short form in mind. With this model, the possibility of video going viral is much higher as is the potential of the platform to be able to grow and evolve.

Now I must get back to my man-cold, I’m on a mission to get as much sympathy as I can.


One Trackback/Pingback

  1. By Pass the Ammo « Just Another Meme Vector on 03 Jan 2008 at 3:12 pm

    […] how do you make the good viral meme stuff? Mark wrote about this recently. The trick seems to be in creating unique bespoke content for the online platform that isn’t […]

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