Remember this video clip? It went viral in 2007. Today it has a staggering 300 MILLION views.
In this article you’ll see how to create videos that get shared, even without a baby…
I’ve always wondered what made everyone share so rabidly this video of Harry and Charlie. An amateur clip of someone else’s babies is hardly my idea of an interesting video. Except, seconds after watching, I shared the link with someone else too.
Famous videos like Charlie Bit My Finger, David Goes to the Dentist, Cutest Baby Laugh, and I don’t like you Mommy have made even the slowest student of marketing wonder:
“Why are baby videos so viral?”
You don’t suppose it’s a coincidence that many clips become viral when they feature babies, children, or pets, do you?
The theories are many. Some say, “It’s obvious, babies are cute”; which would be a fair argument if everyone sat around at YouTube.com looking for videos of other people’s children to watch. But that’s a little creepy.
Others suggest that there is a scientific reason why we are motivated to share baby videos; a love-bonding hormone is secreted in our brain at the mere sight of children. But even if we agree, the number of baby videos on YouTube is in the range of 1.1 – 1.4 million; only a handful of them have more than 100,000 views.
That’s not the reason.
When stumped for an answers the average marketer comments about the video’s content with a remark like: “Well…that video was just funny.”
Admittedly, the content plays a role in the share-worthiness of video. But the viral-rule of Surprising Contrast holds here. Surprising Contrast is always interesting and has nothing to do with babies being in the video. That’s not the answer either.
Charlie and Harry, aged one and three managed to make the world their audience in less than 56 seconds while so many others try and fail.
Was it accidental? Did their parents shoot and share so many videos that the law of probability worked in their favour?
Not at all.
They had help.
The Commotion Group
One marketing company, the Commotion Group, claims that most viral video is not truly viral without help; specifically, their help. At the Commotion Group, viral video is a service.
They create footage for businesses which seems home-made, and with a combination of Search Engine Optimisation, manufactured Social Proof, and a number of “hacks” they force the video to get shared. Their promise is that they will get any client a minimum of 100,000 views or the client doesn’t pay!
Wait a minute, though…is this what happened with Charlie Bit My Finger? Was the home video of the Biting-Charlie just a clever branding video made by the Commotion Group to sell t-shirts and merchandise?
In the Commotion Group’s strategy, LIFT-OFF MOMENTUM is important.
Lift-Off Momentum is the initial push needed before anything can go viral.
When a video is first uploaded, it starts at the same place as any other: Zero views and no audience.
However, some videos are FORCEFULLY PUSHED so they are watched and shared quicker than others. Then as one person, two, then three, 10, then 100 people start to share the video, they build momentum; the commotion spirals more sharing until critical mass is reached. When the share activity is fast enough, the video will propel itself and no more force is needed.
The Commotion Group push and engineer the Lift-Off Momentum of videos. When enough momentum is built, they let go and their clients’ video becomes viral.
Some videos gain that initial push from media exposure because they cover an important event (for example the Antoine Dodson Bed Intruder video or the Ferrari Crushed By Ford Crash). Others get it through advertising and promotion like Lady Gaga’s hit song, Bad Romance.
A good place to see this effect is on iGoogle. Every day, new-ish videos are displayed in a widget called Spotlight Videos. Since many people around the world set their homepage to customised iGoogle pages, Spotlight Videos naturally get access to insane momentum and most of them end up with 100’s of thousands of views and thousands of shares within days.
Is Lift-Off Momentum always engineered, even in baby videos? Or do they get Lift-Off Momentum some other way?
There are no accidents in virality.
At least, nothing that can’t be studied, picked apart, repeated, and made money from. Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook used this very principle—but we’ll come back to him shortly.
Lift-Off Momentum requires CONTAINMENT. The spread of content should be intentionally restricted to a small set of people.
You might think this counter-intuitive. After all, if you want something to be widely spread, isn’t it best to reach as many people as possible? Wrong. Initially, the content needs to be shared ONLY in a tight group.
The effect can be likened to a boiling kettle of water. Without a lid, the heat is dissipated and wasted. With a lid, the heat is contained and the kettle boils quickly.
When we allow only a small group to share content, we benefit from multiple exposures. Each person sees the content several times from different people who share it with them. This creates social proof; it becomes COOL to have seen the video before the person who shared it with you.
“Oh. Thaaaaat video! Yeah, I saw it last week…pretty funny huh?”
While one may not share the first time around, they may the second or third time a video is shared with them; which can only happen if sharing is contained first.
Zuckerberg’s Facebook Launch
Mark Zuckerberg used containment the first day he launched Facebook. He understood this principle of Lift-Off Momentum very well since he’d been experimenting with it for years.
He initially sent Facebook to a tiny email list of 300 people from the Kirkland House dormitory, not to the whole university.
These 300 students shared rooms with one another and most of their friends lived in the same dorm across the hall from each other. They partied together. They studied together. They were not just any 300 people. They were connected and their sharing was intentionally contained.
Several dozen students joined from the house. Facebook spread in the house for a while before it was allowed to reach the rest of the university. And since email sharing was a social habit, many house-mates received the same message multiple times, which created a facade that everyone was checking out this Facebook thing. Although only a few dozen people from within the house were really into it.
By the end of the day, 1,500 students from around the Harvard campus had joined Facebook.
Baby Videos Got It Natural
Sharing of baby videos works the same as students in a dorm. There is natural containment; family and friends are the only people who care about the children in the video. Once the video has circulated several times amongst close family and friends, the video starts to venture out to people who are less interested in the children and more interested in the funny activity they are doing.
So while baby videos might go viral unintentionally, they do not go viral by accident. They just have an advantage of Lift-Off Momentum.
Charlie and Harry’s father claims he had no idea that any of this would happen to his home-video; Charlie Bit My Finger video was candid. He did not even realise that it was funny until he uploaded it to YouTube for the children’s godfather to see.
It wasn’t until much later, when the children’s father wanted to remove the video that he discovered the clip was shared around the world!
So the Commotion Group had no role in the virality of Charlie Bit My Finger …but they definitely understand the Lift-Off Momentum required for anything to go viral.
Would you like to use Lift-Off Momentum to get viral traffic too? Follow the exercise below to learn how.
How to Get Lift-Off On Your Viral Business Videos
Step 1. Choose your CONTAINMENT group. On a blank sheet of paper, write down the names of all the people you know well and spend more than 3 days a week talking to.
Step 2. Choose your EXPANDED GROUP. Include people you might invite to a large event, such as a wedding, for example. Make sure there are some people in common between EXPANDED and CONTAINMENT groups. When critical mass is reached, the smaller group will spread the content to your EXPANDED group.
Step 3. Brainstorm at least 10 “actors” (babies, people, animals, objects, etc) that would interest every member of the CONTAINMENT group. Eg, an object from an inside-joke, a souvenir of an office prank that you play together, a common enemy.
Step 4. Brainstorm at least 10 ideas you think the EXPANDED group in step 2 would be interested in. Feel free to write your ideas in the box below and let other readers vote on their favourite.
Step 5. Plan & shoot a 1-5 minute video incorporating both the actor and idea you choose to run with.
Step 6. Upload your video to YouTube and share it by email or in person with ALL the people in your CONTAINMENT group.
Step 7. Start shooting your next video while waiting.
That’s it! Share your ideas in the box below and don’t forget to vote and help others with their videos too.
Viral Traffic Is One Of The Best Traffic Methods I Use!
We discuss it extensively and how you can get more of it in Module 7 of the IBA training program.
If you haven’t enrolled yet and want to take advantage of the Beta-Tester discount of 20% … here’s the link…