Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Viral Videos

vi·ral [vahy-ruhDescription: http://sp.dictionary.com/dictstatic/dictionary/graphics/luna/thinsp.pngl] 
of, pertaining to, or caused by a virus.
pertaining to or involving the spreading of information andopinions about a product or service from person to person,especially on the Internet or in e-mails: a clever viral ad.
becoming very popular by circulating quickly from person toperson, especially on the Internet: the most memorableviral videos; a book that's gone viral.
pertaining to a computer virus.

Back in the day a "viral video" would have been a VHS that had been sprinkled with anthrax and given to someone in hopes that it made them sick. (refer to definition #1) 

In the modern world "viral" means so much more than just being caused by a virus. However, the ability of a virus to spread rapidly from person to person is exactly where today's definition comes from. Therefore by definition a viral video is one that spreads like crazy to every corner of the globe and every kind of person.

By that definition I believe there are 3 kinds of viral videos. 

1.Crazy, funny, weird, cute things caught on tape, 
2.Videos made just because you love to make videos for other people.  
3. Videos made for marketing purposes 

Crazy, funny, weird, cute things caught on tape. 

The classic example of this is charlie bit my finger:

These are the granddaddies of viral videos. The one hit wonders that turned YouTube into what it is today. I have no idea why more people than the entire population of the United States have viewed this video, but they have, and there is nothing you can do about it. I believe that these are the TRUEST form of viral videos. 

(disclaimer: Cat videos are not viral videos...)

Videos made just because you love to make videos for other people.

Some people have passion and they just get it. Take Devin Graham for instance. One of his latest videos is seen here:

A lot of people say that good viral videos are just marketing campaigns. While I believe that is true for a lot of videos, some people like Devin just "get it."

People like Devin are rare. It takes a lot of skill and knowledge to get there. You can't just put out viral videos consistently without a lot of work and dedication to what you do. 

Videos made for marketing purposes

Viral videos are often marketing campaigns. Take Gillette for example. They put out a series of videos meant to look real, like this:

Crazy, if you don't know it's a fake. However I gotta be honest I've never watched a video like this with a Gillette ad in the background and thought to myself "man, I really want to go buy a Gillette razor" It's great for brand awareness but in the end I'm not sure it does much for sales in the company. 

On the other hand GoPro cameras does the best job of viral video marketing I think I've ever seen. You know what they do? They make you buy their camera and all the equipment, go out and film yourself doing something completely crazy and then send it in and give them all the rights so they can pick the best ones and upload them to their site. They get MILLIONS of views from doing this. Straight genius! I bought a GoPro camera, and I film a lot of things with it in hopes that it gets put on their site. I know that's what they do and I still do it!! When you can be completely honest with your customers and they still love to do what they do, you have found yourself one heckuva successful business idea. Those are one in a million. Props to you GoPro.

People might ask about the celebrities like Justin Bieber that just get millions and millions of views on their music videos because every little girl in america can't get enough of him. Aren't these viral videos? In my opinion these aren't viral videos. Saying these are viral videos is like saying every show on TV is a viral video. It gets views because the people in them are famous. If however, the celebrity is doing something stupid (i.e Charlie Sheen) then it falls into the "crazy, funny, weird, cute things caught on tape" category.

YouTube even has it's own celebrities like Fred or nigahiga. These people started out in the "videos made just because you love to make videos" category and became so successful at it they gained a HUGE following. As a result all of their videos get millions of views. While I don't discount the work that they do, for all intents and purposes of this post, most of the stuff they come out with now isn't "viral". They aren't causing a stir, they aren't getting people from every corner of the globe to watch them. They have a specific audience similar to a TV show viewership that tunes in every week for new videos.

There are exceptions, however, like this (Great song!) from nigahiga:

I'm going to go watch a video not about a kitten. 


  1. Thank you for saying cat videos are not viral videos.

  2. In my opinion every video that has a cat in it is obviously a viral video... haha. Nicely done Braden. Genius, funny and classy like always.

  3. Disagree. I think cat videos are definitely viral videos.