Viral videos can be predicted – maybe

Written by Paper. Posted in Creative, Thinking

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Published on March 04, 2017 with No Comments

Every minute 48 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube, which means that the videos that “go viral” are literally a drop in the bucket. Still, there’s a kind of, sort of trajectory to the viral video. At least that’s the point of view of YouTube’s Trend Manager, Kevin Allocca. And who among us knew that YouTube had a trend manager? In any case, consider the now famous, double rainbow video, viewed more than 30 million times and counting – with its very own Wikipedia page. The video is simple: Footage of a double rainbow over Yosemite with audio of a guy’s almost hysterical reaction to it.

According to Allocca, this video has the defining characteristics of a viral video: Firstly, a tastemaker, in this case Jimmy Kimmel. The video had been on YouTube for months before Kimmel mentioned it on his show. The second characteristic is, “community participation.” Nowadays people don’t just enjoy things, we participate. The double rainbow video had parodies, an auto-tuned version, spoofs that showed the double-rainbow guy in other settings, and more. The third is, “unexpectedness,” and that’s self-explanatory.

While it is common to think that viral videos happen randomly, it turns out that a bit of up-front thought and creativity can go a long toward setting the stage, so to speak, for a viral video. Some time ago, the band, “Ok Go,” partnered with Synn Labs, where they merge art with technology, to make a viral video. They spent months strategizing on creating a spectacular Rube Goldberg machine to execute a task – and you should watch the video to see the ending. After months of planning, smashing two pianos and ten television sets in the process and getting all the action into one shot, they now have over 35 million views.

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