Who knew that back in Feb 2005 three former Pay Pal employees would introduce a video-sharing website that would be gobbled up by Google a year-and-a-half later and now seems very likely to herald a powerful new way for people to sell products and services?
What’s viral and how do you do it?
My Public Relations students studied many of the top Social Media platforms this summer and one group focused on “Maximizing the Power of YouTube.” This week’s blog will feature three of their reports.
Guest Post by Ashley Hall
A few years ago, the term “viral video” wasn’t in the vocabulary of the average person. In fact, the word viral was always considered a bad thing, insinuating an uncontrollable replication and spread. Currently, that is exactly what has happened as ordinary people’s videos have gone viral, spreading to our email inboxes, being posted on our Facebook feeds, and showing up continually as tweets and retweets to our Twitter accounts.
On July 19, a video of a fun-loving wedding party featured the bridesmaids and groomsmen dancing down the aisle to the Chris Brown song “Forever.” Within one week, the JK Wedding Entrance Dance had accumulated more than a million views and was picked up by both local and national TV shows including “The Today Show.”
Amateur production reveals real life
Shot by amateurs, the video lacked professional sound quality and a high resolution image, but it has now received more than 19 million views, 80,000 comments, and a five-star rating.
How is it that an amateur video that wasn’t intended to be broadcast very far from friends and family has now been seen around the world?
Answer: Because it fits the criteria of a successful viral video perfectly: it wasn’t meant to go viral.
The Wedding Entrance Dance is funny and engaging, but most of all, it is real. These people could have been our college roommates or people in surrounding cubicles.
An interesting side effect of this viral sensation is the impact it has had on Chris Brown, the artist of the song used in the video. Chris Brown has had some very public problems with the law. In February, he was arrested for domestic violence against his girlfriend, singer Rihanna. On July 20, a day after the JK Wedding Entrance Video was posted, Chris issued an apology video on YouTube, which to date has gotten just under three million views. There are so many parody videos of his apology that it actually takes a bit of digging to find the original.
Public has forgotten they disliked Chris Brown
After unsuccessfully trying to repair the damage done to his reputation, Chris’ record label Sony decided to embrace the use of the song in this video. That was the best decision they could have made because just three weeks after the video’s appearance, the public has forgotten they hated Chris Brown.
A year since its release, “Forever” is now back on the iTunes and Amazon Top Ten singles chart and the pop-up ad to buy the song averages twice as many sales as other click-to-buy items.
Good news doesn’t stop there
The Wedding Dance video has increased profits to Google, but also to a new fund set up to dontate money for victims of domestic violence. You simply can’t put a price on this kind of publicity: Without spending any money, Chris has gotten back on the charts with a year old song. When people hear “Chris Brown,” chances are they think about the dancing wedding party, not the images of him pleading guilty to domestic violence in court.
In this case, the viral video was pure luck for Sony and Chris Brown. However, a few companies have successfully released publicity videos that went viral. Blender company Blendtec has released a series of videos showcasing their blenders blending their blenders blending things like glowsticks, and iPhone and Bic lighters.
British mattress company, Bensons for Beds, recently released a video of their attempt to bread the world record number of people playing Mattress Dominoes, which is quickly catching on.
Though Blendtec and Bensons for Beds have successfully created viral videos, the key for success is really luck and timing. You can never predict what will catch on; you just have to be prepared for it when it does.
Have you caught the viral video virus?
So keep uploading your videos onto YouTube. Maybe you will become the next viral sensation.
Next guest post from Synang Chhan: “Helpful Tips for Going Viral on YouTube”