Life through my myopic eyes.

What Makes a Video Viral? Who Knows…


If you type into google search the phrase, “What was the first viral video,”  you will find a lot of different answers. You will also find a lot of hot debates as to which video can “wear the crown” of first ever viral video.

Ever since Korean recording artist PSY burst onto the international scene with the music video Gangnam Style this year other channels on YouTube have been parodying and attempting to emulate the video’s success. I even read somewhere that Justin Bieber fans were trying to topple PSY off of his number one spot.

Sad. But what can you expect from a fan base of prepubescent girls and grandmothers?

The question I have is this. Just what makes a video worthy of becoming a viral success? There doesn’t seem to be any set equation. The only thing that most viral videos have in common is humour.

The YouTube channel schmoyoho aka The Gregory Brothers — who also have another channel on YouTube — have put out quite a few videos where they have used Auto Tune to “songify” videos. One video, the Bed Intruder Song, has garnered well over 106 million views. It is excruciatingly funny.

But you also have viral videos that are less funny. Racist on bus Wood Green is far less amusing and only has in the region of 471 thousand views. On the same unfunny tone, you have Rugby Player Tackles Robber. This video has gotten over 2 million views and is not the least bit funny, it is in fact one of those videos that places your heart in your throat.

Of course you have loads of videos that feature the escapades of  teens replicating — or originating their own — Jackass and Dirty Sanchez. These videos seem to do very well.

But none of the above mentioned videos really have anything in common. I’ve also not mentioned the videos that streak into the viral category that are of small children, babies, animals et al. The videos all have cute and funny themes and seem to fall into a sort of “instant” viral fodder file.

A lot of folks upload videos that have been clearly made with the intent of it becoming viral. But it’s been shown time and again that a viral video is never planned.

Some videos become viral twice. Look up Double Rainbow or Charlie Bit Me on YouTube. These videos went viral and then went viral again thanks to auto tune — you remember the Gregory brothers mentioned before — and they then jumped into a second viral life all their own.

So I guess, for now at least, the answer is not a clear one. It just appears to be whatever video catches the imagination of enough people that it gets shared repeatedly. I do think that humour has a huge part to play. Take for example my final viral offering of the day. Double Rainbow is a video about a guy who is literally freaking out over what he calls a double rainbow. Now he may or may not be a fruit loop, but the original video of his orgasmic reaction to the rainbow has well over 35 million views.

Now take this same video, auto tune it and you have the Double Rainbow Song –yes, you guessed it, the Gregory Bros again — with well over 31 million views.

Enjoy:

Tagged as: , , , , , , , ,

Categorised in: Entertainment, Social, Viral Videos, YouTube

4 Responses »

  1. I had one of those (for me) viral days yesterday. I am at a loss to explain it. The post was a reblog about Hurricane Sandy. If you googled it, you’d have found the original article before mine. Yet they were hitting my reblog as if I were the source. I don’t mind attention, but it wasn’t even for something I wrote myself. Not very flattering. The whys and wherefores of these sudden bursts of popularity make no sense.

  2. I’ve been curious about this myself as of late. Great article.

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