Going Viral

This week we jumped into the thousands of videos circulating the internet. What makes them so popular and how did they go from an uploaded video to viral? One moment you’re uploading a video pranking your children that you ate their candy on Halloween and the next you are on Jimmy Kimmel. In the TedTalk, “Why Videos Go Viral”, Kevin Allocca explains, “There are over 48 hours of videos uploaded every minute, and only a tiny fraction of a percent get more than 1 million views.” Kevin has a unique position in that his main job is to “professionally” go through videos and determine what makes them go viral. This spectator sport that he gets to call his profession is just the tip of the iceberg for what is going on in the world of YouTube. How does one person upload a video of themselves playing cover songs and end up selling out arenas. Of course I am talking about none other than my personal favorite, Justin Bieber. One of the most interesting things to me is how people are found on this site and are able to be transformed into stars because of it. Clearly this is not the only reason for the site, to upload videos of yourself but it does play a large role. In his TedTalk, Kevin faces the question of what causes these videos to go viral, what is the recipe for success?

“1. Tastemakers: influential people enjoying the video and reposting it.

  1. Unexpectedness: with so much video out there, the viral videos have to be different
  2. Participation: others want to be a part of this, create parodies and meta-references”

We see over and over again that Tastemakers play such a large role in getting creative/or none creative ideas out there. From late night television such as Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, etc. and even the shows that thrive on others and their uploads. Television shows such as Ridiculousness, the Soup and many others play a vital role in getting these videos to the public and sky rocketing their views online. Videos can be uploaded months in advance but without the right tastemaker putting a buzz into viewer’s ears, it may not go viral for a while. Kevin goes over a few of the videos we may be familiar with that tastemakers highlighted. “Double-Rainbow’s views spiked massively when it was retweeted by Jimmy Kimmel (tastemaker). Rebecca Black’s Friday went big when a few people (tastemakers) started posting about it. From there plenty more people referenced it or parodied it- within days there was a parody for every other day of the week. (participation). We see this time and time again when people post videos and others begin to think they can do it even better. People are now participating and getting involved in the joke. Some of the best videos uploaded make absolutely no sense at all, making them the perfect mix of unexpected and getting people involved. “Nyan Cat is extremely strange, but also very easy to remix with different background music, set it in a different place, or post meta-references such as a cat watching a cat watching nyan cat (participation). A cyclist riding on the street protesting a ticket for not riding in the bike lane.. because his funny video had an unexpected twist, 5 million people (at time of TED talk, now 13 million) saw his protest.”

So many people are posting videos that seem extremely irrelevant until they are viral all over the internet. One Saturday you could be posting a funny video and the next week you may be on late night television with your material. The internet has become a place of bouncing ideas, videos and communication around and it is only going to continue growing as technology increases. I am very excited to see what the future of iPhones and other smart phones have in store for people making these hilarious and sometimes ridiculous videos. Kevin closes out his TedTalk by explaining, “we’re building a new type of culture where everyone has access and the audience decides the popularity. This will define the entertainment of the future.”

(Check out the link below for more information about this TedTalk!)

Kevin Allocca: Why videos go viral

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