The Age of Viral
In 2006, a couple of guys released an amateur, single-take video shot on a cheap handy-cam. Wearing lab coats and protective goggles, they concocted an elaborate (and almost grotesque) mix of Mentos and Diet Coke. In just three minutes, they managed to create mesmerizing carbonated explosions and fizzling patterns. The Mentos and Diet Coke Experiment video was born. By the end of the first day, they had 14,000 unique views on YouTube. A week after the upload, they’d been invited to several nation-wide talk shows, and their video had become a worldwide sensation. Stephen Voltz and Fritz Grobe had effectively started the conversation on what makes videos go viral.
Since then, many have attempted to emulate the style behind the Mentos and Diet Coke experiment in the hopes that their home videos would also go viral. The hunger for instant online stardom has fueled some of the quirkiest attempts, but it has also brought us classics like the viral music videos from the world-renowned band Ok Go.
But the need to understand and make viral videos is not reserved for your neighbor—or your 16-year-old cousin trying to become the next Justin Bieber. Worldwide heavyweight companies like Coca-Cola and Red Bull were first adapters of the power of social media when it came to “viralizing” their content.
What is a viral video?
Let’s first understand that the word “viral” has been liberally thrown around for years. Most people use it when referring to “cool” videos they have seen on more than one social medium. In the beginning—when Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram were just being introduced to the world—a video would be considered viral if it reached a measurable amount of 1 million unique views (usually on YouTube). Today, the concept of time has come into play. A video in 2016 is considered viral if it manages to reach anywhere from one to three million unique views in the first three to seven days of its publication. So, if you published a video in 2006 and today it reached one million views, it is, by definition, not considered viral. However, if you publish a video tonight and three days from now it reaches the million mark, then it has effectively gone viral, meaning that it has appealed to a vast audience and that it is quite shareable. We’ll talk about “shareability” later in this course.
In the next few lessons, we will address the 4 Principles behind making viral videos. Always keep in mind that, although no one can truly guarantee that a video will go viral, you can structure your videos in a way that will make them much more likely to be shareable, and hence, viral.
See you tomorrow.
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