Viral videos. It’s what all the “cool kids” seem to be doing these days. It’s like a popularity contest of who can make the video with the most views. So far Justin Bieber’s song Baby is in the lead with almost 650 million views. But that hasn’t stopped others from trying to join the race. The content of these range from music videos to a baby biting his older brother to cartoons about unicorns. So what’s the secret to making your video go viral? I don’t know that there is really any strategy or secret that will guarantee yours will go viral but there are definitely some things that they all have in common.
According to an article on CNN, What Makes a Video Go Viral? Hint: Be Authentic, the key is to be authentic. People can tell when something is fake and that can kill whatever the video had going for it. The article quoted an internet culture expert, Tim Hwang, who said, “The big ironic thing is that trying too hard doesn’t get you far … In fact, trying too hard seems to dampen the ability to get you passed around the Web.” Think about it, watching a girl talk about her love of cats to the point of getting teary eyed is hilarious until you find out she is just a wonderful actress who lost a bet. Nobody likes to be led on.
The other key element to a successful video is surprising contrast. At least that’s what Jon Rothstein says on his website. “Surprising contrast makes humour and comedy. Jokes rely on this phenomenon and are retold from one person to another, much like a viral video is shared. When we see two things that don’t normally belong together, and someone finds a way to make them belong, the reaction it creates is one of surprise.” For example, watching a guy in a penguin suit get tackled while walking around a campus library only to be left with no one to help him up is hilarious because penguin suits aren’t usually a fashionable way to dress and even if they were, the last thing I would expect would be to see him get tackled in the library. Or the overweight kid who made a movie of himself dancing in his chair to the song Numa Numa Yei. It’s not something you would expect to from a guy at his basement computer with headphones on yet it’s something people can relate to because, let’s be honest, who hasn’t ridiculously jammed out to a song when no one else is around?
Of course there’s always the standard ways of getting your video out there; posting it on facebook, blogs, twitter, etc. But when it comes down to it the best videos out there have these two major points in common; they’re authentic and they have surprising contrast. One without the other will get your video nowhere but when combined, it could be the next Charlie the Unicorn.