This week I’d like to explore with you what really makes a video go viral.

Thanks to inspiring (but too short) considerations of Kevin Allocca, the YouTube trends manager, we’ll get into a selection of case studies to learn what really matters to get a large amount of visibility on the new medias that are YouTube, Dailymotion, etc…

Let’s begin by taking a good look at a few case studies that really went viral last year:


Double Rainbow



As you can see, this first one is plain simple : a sincere enjoyment of a emotional moment, captured & shared by the author and put online. The stats around this vid’s views speak for themselves ! 33 million views, see below for the progression :



But more relevant, is the view count since the publication :


So what happened almost 7 months after the upload of this video ? Well, Jimmy Kimmel, a guy following 150 Twitter accounts but followed by 1 152 992 followers ( ! ) tweeted this :


So yes, sharing great content is good. Still, having what Kevin Allocca calls “taste makers” publicizing your video is necessary !





Everyone saw this video. Well not everyone, but it has over 24 millions views, and has been watched through various forms over 200 millions time. Did you know that every weeks, for months, the views records went to the roof on every Friday ?



As the double rainbow video, Tosh.O or people like Michael J. Nelson had this video popularized to a larger audience, sharing the creative contents they found on blogs, mostly parodies. But more interestingly, this video triggered the creative side of viewers : by the first seven days, this video had a parody made for each other day of the week!

Today, it’s more than 10 000 parodies that can be found on youtube, making of this video one of the most revisited. It’s a great example of how great community engagement can do for you or your brand ; you may not be the author of the first bit, but as we saw in our previous post about viral contents, you could take advantage of a new trend by providing a parody or a smart content that surfs on the wave others previously generated, getting a large audience for you, your brand or your message.


Nyan Cat



More than community’s engagement, there is one silly video (50 millions views) that awoke the pop culture over the world : the Nyam video.  It also went to the classic “regional parodies” to more serious and arty stuff, the “mise en abîme” or meta-viral video : As the Russian dolls, people actually got their cat looking at cats looking at the nyam cat video. Go figure !


Here, the Internet community is working as a whole, sharing laughters, going more “global” every time. In a world where every minute, 2 days time of video is uploaded online, you’d better be sure you’ll be able to connect with this global pop culture Nyam cat represents.


Bike lanes in NYC



What’s great about viral video, you can also take advantage of them by fooling your viewers, and make a good point. Casey Neistat understood it times ago, when he started demonstrating its concerns about how dangerous bike lanes are in NYC by taking the chance.

The result is a funny and classical “fail” video, nailing it taking advantage of the public’s curiosity and hunger for reverse angle camera falls. He’s now known as the “New York Man That Gets Ticket For Not Riding In Bike Lane”. Risky, but pretty efficient!




To wrap it up, we could say that :

  • You can use great content, but you’ll do better with taste makers or trend diggers as boosters for your videos.
  • Along with taste makers, community will be the only final judge. So you’d better be able to connect through that international “pop culture” raising from the Internet, in order to connect with the audience you target.
  • Unexpectedness is the key, as we saw with our last example. Would Casey’s video be so successful without the big falling surprise at the end ?


So be sincere and creative, connect with your audience and community, seek the help of trend makers, and act unexpectedly.


And as always, you can find Kevin Allocca’s talk in the NJF video section.
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