What makes a viral go viral?

Forget ‘Why are we here?’, ‘What happens after we die?’ and ‘Will a British tennis player ever win Wimbledon?’; the real million dollar question in a digital age is ‘What makes a viral go viral?’

I think a lot of people might be tempted to answer boyish good looks, a Canadian accent and golden locks straight from Mount Olympus.

There’s no doubt that Lord Bieber is the king of youtube, but there’s so much more to a viral video than a Michael Jackson dance routine performed by a prepubescent. Take Jamal Edwards, for instance. You couldn’t get much further from the world of the Beliebers (though funnily enough JB has actually been filmed by JE’s team), but the success story of the 20 year old founder of SB.TV is not far behind in its viral potency.

What power the realm of the viral video beholds, so it’s no surprise that brands and PR companies are desperate to harness this potential for themselves. Most don’t even make ‘popular’, let alone ‘viral’, so what is it that inspires viewers to take the time to share? 

Here are a few of our favourites, starting with what must be one of the most successful (in terms of youtube views) viral campaigns of late. Have a watch and let us know if you can put your finger on that special something that makes a viral go viral…

TNT (Belgian TV channel) – 35,730,559 views since April 2012 – we love this one. It has it all; the big idea, humour, drama and the candid camera feel juxtaposed with professional production.

Dynamo Magic of Football (Barclays) – 704,234 views since August 2011 – first of a series; one for all the footy fans. Largely successful due to Twitter presence of players such as Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen.

Federer/Nadal Match for Africa Outtakes – 5,216,800 views since September 2010 – we think this is up there just for pure feel good factor. It really makes you wonder whether this was a film shoot ‘gone wrong’.

Old Spice ‘The man your man could smell like’ – 41,923,713 views since February 2010 – I watch this at least once every few months and still find it amusing. Excellent script.

Newport State of Mind – 333,335 views since July 2010 (however, this is not an accurate representation of numbers as the video has been taken down on a number of occasions due to an ongoing rights dispute with EMI Records) – guerrilla viral, randomly put out there as a spoof of Alicia Keys/Jay-Z ‘Empire State of Mind’. Clever lyrics. This has got the ultimate share factor.

Tippex20,045,250 views since August 2010 – came across this one today. Good plus points in terms of interactivity, but in our opinion not really that shareable.


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