76 thoughts on “Making a Video Go Viral”

  1. Hey Jim,

    Loved this article!!! FO' Real!!!!

    You know, I'm pretty good at relating things LOL. Ken is always astonished how I can do this with ease. In this article you captured exactly how I do it in my mind. It felt crazy to read that in the exercise you provided. Do you also read minds? :-)

    Also, Ken and I thought of something really hilarious that we have been wanting to create a video on for a long time. Think we might try it now LOL. :-)

    Melisa

    1. Fo real, fo real!? i was hoping you would. no i dont read minds but i can tell you waht you're going to do next based on the last two things you did…does taht count as mind reading? i dont know. your video idea sounds dangerous…are you gonna do it FO REAL? lollllzzzzzzzzzz

    2. Jim,

      The video idea is not business related but it is completely hilarious and I think most people with a sense of humor anyway will get a big kick out of it. You and I will have to talk about it sometime. Maybe you want to be part of it LOL. Now that would be really funny and cool too.

      Okay so now I am intrigued because I want to know what you think I am going to do next :-)

      Let's skype later when we get some time.

      Melisa

  2. Jim, this article was great! Thanks for the insight, and I love your step by step directions at the end. I can't wait to put one together!!

  3. Jim, this article was great! Thanks for the insight, and I love your step by step directions at the end. I can't wait to put one together!!

    1. does that mean you're gonna try it? cause i seriously reckon i can do it but it requires me to get some piercings and tattoos which i'm not sure i'm ready for…

  4. Hey Jim,

    Loved this article!!! FO' Real!!!!

    You know, I'm pretty good at relating things LOL. Ken is always astonished how I can do this with ease. In this article you captured exactly how I do it in my mind. It felt crazy to read that in the exercise you provided. Do you also read minds? :-)

    Also, Ken and I thought of something really hilarious that we have been wanting to create a video on for a long time. Think we might try it now LOL. :-)

    Melisa

    1. Fo real, fo real!? i was hoping you would. no i dont read minds but i can tell you waht you're going to do next based on the last two things you did…does taht count as mind reading? i dont know. your video idea sounds dangerous…are you gonna do it FO REAL? lollllzzzzzzzzzz

    2. Jim,

      The video idea is not business related but it is completely hilarious and I think most people with a sense of humor anyway will get a big kick out of it. You and I will have to talk about it sometime. Maybe you want to be part of it LOL. Now that would be really funny and cool too.

      Okay so now I am intrigued because I want to know what you think I am going to do next :-)

      Let's skype later when we get some time.

      Melisa

  5. Great take on this, truly an interesting perspective. Now, let's see if I can take your formula and produce a vid that gets 200,000,000 views…or even 20,000. Seriously, this was good, started the gears in motion.

    ~ Tom

    1. glad to hear it man! as long as it puts you in the right direction, because it's not an exact science by any means. but this is as close to a scientific analysis as i could get!

  6. Surprising contrast. That would have been my friends and I at a Gothic night club. Now that was something. Had a great time and meet some cool people but we were not in the In crowed.

    Interesting exercise…

  7. Holy shit! You said some stuff that I hadn't even thought of! I mean, the contrast stuff. Dude hold on my mind is blown right now by your intuition.

    1. lol please let's put it back together quikckly!!! i didnt want to upset you with any of it, so i wrote as nicely as i could so you wouldn't get mad

    1. does that mean you're gonna try it? cause i seriously reckon i can do it but it requires me to get some piercings and tattoos which i'm not sure i'm ready for…

  8. Great take on this, truly an interesting perspective. Now, let's see if I can take your formula and produce a vid that gets 200,000,000 views…or even 20,000. Seriously, this was good, started the gears in motion.

    ~ Tom

    1. glad to hear it man! as long as it puts you in the right direction, because it's not an exact science by any means. but this is as close to a scientific analysis as i could get!

  9. Surprising contrast. That would have been my friends and I at a Gothic night club. Now that was something. Had a great time and meet some cool people but we were not in the In crowed.

    Interesting exercise…

  10. Holy shit! You said some stuff that I hadn't even thought of! I mean, the contrast stuff. Dude hold on my mind is blown right now by your intuition.

    1. lol please let's put it back together quikckly!!! i didnt want to upset you with any of it, so i wrote as nicely as i could so you wouldn't get mad

  11. Maybe I sounded like an asshole with my comment, like I was kissing your ass. Trust me I was not kissing your ass.

    Like I told you earlier, I'm sorta pissed that you thought of this angle and not me. And you know Dodson is so dear to me for many reasons and I'm glad that you had the eyes for the whole thing and why it got so popular.

    1. i get it, your lips dont do ass. that's fine. and i know you totally wanna marry Dodson and i didnt wanna get clawed for saying something you didnt like. so am glad you were happy with the outcome :)

  12. This was cool, Jim.

    You’ve got this “artzy” way of conveying and craft serious points in un-serious story-like manner, even using simple things as analogies to bring your points to life. I love your writing style.

    Although, I am yet to try my hands on video making but I’m have just added your 7 steps to viral videos in my strategy note. However, I’m seeing how I can also apply it in non-video situations.

    1. Awww Stella! that's so nice of you to say. i think you'll find the strategy will help you make your stuff engaging no matter what. so it's smart of you to apply it outside video. i'm not a big fan of making videos myself and i'm always experimenting with surprising contrast in writing which i much more enjoy. so if you have other ideas which you like better you'll have more success on your preferred mediums.

  13. Maybe I sounded like an asshole with my comment, like I was kissing your ass. Trust me I was not kissing your ass.

    Like I told you earlier, I'm sorta pissed that you thought of this angle and not me. And you know Dodson is so dear to me for many reasons and I'm glad that you had the eyes for the whole thing and why it got so popular.

    1. i get it, your lips dont do ass. that's fine. and i know you totally wanna marry Dodson and i didnt wanna get clawed for saying something you didnt like. so am glad you were happy with the outcome :)

  14. Very clever. How did you even think of such an idea! It would never occur to me. Often I see people sharing a video and I think there is nothing to it, why are people sharing it. Now I know why. It is the contrast.

    1. yes, surprising-contrast is usually the biggest element that causes people to share. there are others as @Justin Brooke mentioned earlier. people share because it adds to their current enjoyment value.

      glad you liked the article!

  15. Very clever. How did you even think of such an idea! It would never occur to me. Often I see people sharing a video and I think there is nothing to it, why are people sharing it. Now I know why. It is the contrast.

    1. yes, surprising-contrast is usually the biggest element that causes people to share. there are others as @Justin Brooke mentioned earlier. people share because it adds to their current enjoyment value.

      glad you liked the article!

  16. This was cool, Jim.

    You've got this "artzy" way of conveying and craft serious points in un-serious story-like manner, even using simple things as analogies to bring your points to life. I love your writing style.

    Although, I am yet to try my hands on video making but I'm have just added your 7 steps to viral videos in my strategy note. However, I'm seeing how I can also apply it in non-video situations.

    1. Awww Stella! that's so nice of you to say. i think you'll find the strategy will help you make your stuff engaging no matter what. so it's smart of you to apply it outside video. i'm not a big fan of making videos myself and i'm always experimenting with surprising contrast in writing which i much more enjoy. so if you have other ideas which you like better you'll have more success on your preferred mediums.

  17. Nice article, especially like your steps for creating a viral video. Have you read about the “Viral Loop Theory” if you Google it and look for the article done by Fast Company it's a great read.

    Basically says for something to go viral it must be funnier or more useful when shared with someone else… Like Facebook… would sure suck to use Facebook without your friends.

    1. Justin,

      that's a cool way of looking at it too. viral is one of those mysteries which one must experiment with, regardless of what method we use. i took this particular angle on the article because it gives one a mechanical starting point where they can engineer viral.

      the main issue i have with statements like “more useful when shared with friends” is that viral video is rarely ever useful. It's certainly more enjoyable. But you can enjoy a viral video on your own.

      however, your statement is also correct. An application like Facebook would not have gone viral in and of itself. Like you said, Facebook would suck without friends there to talk to. the genius was how it started….

      remember, the first people invited were friends and people already networked. Facebook then became a place where they could go to enhance their friendship further.

      so you're absolutely right about that. Viral is made or broken ALWAYS through existing well-connected networks of friends

  18. Nice article, especially like your steps for creating a viral video. Have you read about the "Viral Loop Theory" if you Google it and look for the article done by Fast Company it's a great read.

    Basically says for something to go viral it must be funnier or more useful when shared with someone else… Like Facebook… would sure suck to use Facebook without your friends.

    1. Justin,

      that's a cool way of looking at it too. viral is one of those mysteries which one must experiment with, regardless of what method we use. i took this particular angle on the article because it gives one a mechanical starting point where they can engineer viral.

      the main issue i have with statements like "more useful when shared with friends" is that viral video is rarely ever useful. It's certainly more enjoyable. But you can enjoy a viral video on your own.

      however, your statement is also correct. An application like Facebook would not have gone viral in and of itself. Like you said, Facebook would suck without friends there to talk to. the genius was how it started….

      remember, the first people invited were friends and people already networked. Facebook then became a place where they could go to enhance their friendship further.

      so you're absolutely right about that. Viral is made or broken ALWAYS through existing well-connected networks of friends

    1. haha go for it, i'd love to see what you come up with! use the exercise it will help you brainstorm some ideas and remember to keep trying.

    1. you're welcome Shaylanna, i'm sure you don't need my help though you probably make viral videos for breakfast as a side to go with your eggs, right? 😛

  19. I read your article and have been trying to figure out the answer to this question. Why did my video of a Ferrari VS Ford F-150 CRASH go viral? If you had not seen it you can see it on my YouTube Channel: <a href="http://www.YouTube.com/JamesWorley” target=”_blank”>www.YouTube.com/JamesWorley
    Also, after the video went viral the Today Show ran a story about it and used my video. The video of the Today Show story is there also. Please take a look and tell me why it went viral.
    Thanks!
    James Worley http://www.JamesWorley.com http://www.YouTube.com/JamesWorley

    1. James,

      First of all, i'd like to say congratulations on getting a viral video on YouTube before i try to answer your question.

      I'm working on a part 2 to this article to show people another part of the formula that i didnt get into here. however, after checking out your video i can see the obvious connection with this lesson about Surprising Contrast and another POSSIBLE factor that i will touch on next week.

      Your video shows two cars….one is VERY expensive and exclusive, the other is relatively common by comparison. The Ferrari is small and cute, the Ford is big and a bit of a beast. The way they sit on top of each other leaves a LOT to the imagination but it looks like the FOrd is eating the Ferrari. We also think of the Ferrari as the superior car because it's faster and slicker…but in this case we are surprised by the TOTAL opposite. And the MOST viral element in my opinion is the guy at the end who OWNS the ferrari and seeing his calm face as a reaction to it all…totally unexpected.

      Those elements come together to tell a surprising story of contrast.

      the video may have gone MUCH more viral if it had a few other elements i was thinking about. for example, if we'd actually seen the crash, it probably would have made a better story. if it was shorter, it would have made a more viral story. amongst other things.

      and finally, there are some elements that MAY or may not have worked in its favour to kind of give it an unfair advantage. and that is the NEWS coverage which if it happened BEFORE the video got so many impressions then it probably played a bigger role in the video's virality.

      these are my theories on the matter and if i knew more of the background to the story, i may change my analysis. watch out next week for my next article which will give a whole other angle on this which has NOTHING to do with the content.

      once more, congratulations. and thank you for sharing with us this example!

      jim

    2. Everything Jim said and simply people love Cars. I have video of BMW's promotion stunt bikes, it's all marketing but people love seeing things like that. It has the most views on my youtube channel as well.

      In its simplest form its badass.

  20. Hey Jim
    I loved the Dodson video too. It has excitement and news with that crazy rythm
    that many people love. The message is clear and the messenger is so empahtic ( to use a boring word)
    Thanks for the points on putting words from opposing extremes together to see if they hit it off.

  21. I like to think of viral videos as tornadoes.

    A tornado is the production of a cold front of air and a warm front of air coming together and exploding into a whirley front of DOOM.

    Similarly, a viral video is the production of the serious and the un-serious…

    Another example of a viral video is The Duck Song. Why did it go viral? Well, after reading this article, I did some thinking, and I did some research on the origins of the song.

    The song was written by a guy named Bryant Oden. He writes a lot of songs for kids and the Duck Song was no different.

    But then some dude came along and made a cartoon to go along with the duck song. And it was a very crappily drawn cartoon, but it was eerily charming. Instead of moving his legs, the duck literally waddles. The animation was cheap, but it was artistically cheap. It added to the “cute” environment of the entire video.

    Most people already knew the joke, but it involved a bar and some nails instead of a lemonade stand and glue. It also didn’t have the part at the end with the store. So most viewers were intrigued by the difference and probably thought there would be a different outcome.

    By reading the comments, it seems like the best part of the video is whenever the duck “waddles away.” I imagine it’s because of the repetition of the word, “waddle.” As in, “then he waddled away: waddle waddle.” Etc. It made the song more catchy, but at the same time, the animator did the same cheap but charming trick he did when the duck was waddling to the lemonade stand. It simply just shook around while moving, as if it were having a seizure.

    But not all crappily drawn cartoons become viral. I think it was a combination of the familiar (the joke) and the slightly catchy song, along with the charming animation that made it amass 30million+ views.

    Now if someone can tell me WHY THE HELL “FRIDAY” IS A VIRAL VIDEO I would be very pleased ;]

    To your abundance!
    Rasheed

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