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What Makes a Good Viral Video?

What’s with all these “Stuff People Say” videos? Lately, I’ve seen one for everything. It started with “Stuff Girls Say” and within a few weeks versions popped up about everyone and anyone. (I must admit though, the “Stuff New Yorkers Say” is pretty accurate…)

A viral video is one that becomes popular through the process of Internet sharing, typically through video sharing websites, social media, and email. We were recently working on a big pitch focused around viral videos, and it made me realize – you can tell a lot about a person by asking them what their favorite viral video is. So, here’s a random sample of mine (I really have too many to list), in no particular order:

1. Charlie Bit Me:

Current Number of YouTube Views: 4,420,292
We have all seen this video. It’s been around for a while and is really one of the first “funny videos” my friends and I passed around. I don’t know if it’s the little boy’s accent that gets me or his fake cry, but something about this video still makes me laugh years later. I think a good viral video should appeal to a person’s emotions – and something about this one does for a lot of people. It’s cute in an endearing way that makes a lot of people appreciate children’s naivety. A similar example is this, from Jimmy Kimmel’s Halloween Candy prank:

2. The Mets are Hiring:

Current YouTube Views: 234,043
As a Yankee fan, I find this video highly amusing. They’re obviously poking a little fun at the team, and there’s nothing wrong with friendly competitiveness. I love to watch sports related videos, and think appealing to a person’s interests is also a huge part of successfully making a video go viral. Here’s another good example, created by Avis:

3. Double Rainbow:

Current YouTube Views: 32,403,579
This video is another classic. I remember thinking it was completely random the first time I watched it, but after a few views, couldn’t stop laughing. A good viral video doesn’t have to catch everyone the first time around – but rather can be surprising or different enough to get people talking. Eventually, it will find its way around that way.

4. The Evolution of Dance:

Current YouTube Views: 188,485,006
The first time I watched this video I really couldn’t turn away. It’s not that it was funny – but more so, it kind of amazed me. I think the performer is pretty talented and certainly very clever and original. I think the takeaway from this video is if you can’t make a video funny, make it impressive. If people can’t turn away they’ll definitely want to pass it along to share how notable it is.


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