5 Videos that went Viral – Why do they work?

I love watching videos on line, long and short clips, funny sad or serious, interesting or just outrageous there’s a video to cater to everyone.  Of course, once in a while a video comes along that you simply have to talk about because of its ingenuity, humour, engagement or message.

Here are 5 of my favourite viral videos and some thoughts on why they worked so well (you can watch any of the videos by clicking the titles or the bit that says “watch the video”…obviously).

Bobby McFerrin – Ave Maria

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Bobby McFerrin takes things to a whole new level in this video by bring the audience into the concert itself and making them a part of the show. Having a fantastic, easy going and laid back manner and approach to instructing the crowd on what to do and how it can work the results are stunning.

Where the hell is Matt?

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This video is massive and I mean massive.  Its had 22 million plus views to date and people loved it for the uplifting and inspiring idea that it something so pointless or inane as a silly dance could bring so many people together around the world.  Then we find out that the whole thing was a hoax. You can watch Matt’s full confession here on this conference here:

Matt Confesses: Where the Hell is Matt? Video an ‘Elaborate Hoax’

During the confession, Matt directs us to a pie chart detailing the expenses involved in creating this hoax.  Hopefully this will go some way to clarifying what you need to do to create something similar.

Where the hell is Matt Cyborg Budget.

Not sure about it yet?  Its not a hoax.  Its addressing the claims that it was a hoax but confessing to the hoax.  It becomes obvious with the pie chart and the fact that cyborgs cant dance quite as badly as Matt.

JK Wedding Entrance Dance

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This video is an example of a  truly original way to take something very traditional and turn it on its head, making it fun, interesting and different.  Rather than the typical bridal march these guys got together and made the whole wedding entourage perform a “cat walk” style show to the music of Chris Brown – Forever.

The video went viral and has had over 20 million views so far.  That’s not the end of the story of course and speculation has been rife with rumours of corporate hand holding and the whole ceremony being staged to help sales of Chris Browns single, largely due to the reaction of his record label SONY who decided on this occasion not the press for copyright infringement but instead endorsed the video helping sales.  Theres a good piece that goes into some depth about the matter here.

Nevertheless and whatever your point of view, its a fun video to watch and I believe it would have went viral of its own accord regardless of the allegations and rumours.

United Breaks Guitars

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The kind of viral video that companies dread.  The story goes that the group Sons of Maxwell, where touring and they used United AirLines for transport. On one occasion they witnessed the baggage handlers throwing a guitar case, which of course turned out to be theirs, causing extensive damage to the instrument.  Having made complaints and followed the process, only to be denied compensation the Sons of Maxwell decided that they had had enough and promised the Airline that they would write a song and make a video about the experience.

5 million views later and I will bet that the Airline had decided to pay the 3500 dollars in compensation and not messed these guys about.

You can read the full story about the Sons of Maxwell and United Airlines here.

Compare the Meerkat

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Have you Compared the Meerkat yet?  One of the best advertising campaigns I have seen in quite a few years Compare the Meerkat sets out to promote Compare the Market.com for cheap car insurance (damn that adverts good). Injecting humour in the form of a disgruntled Russian Meerkat who continually has people visiting his site comparethemeerkat.com (yes the website does exist and yes you can compare Meerkats) in error while looking for car insurance. It serves up the message that there is a distinction between Meerkats and car insurance.

Running over a series of 4 TV spots to date and having been targeted to the UK market it has served up a healthy 200k views on the first advert alone ( just on Youtube) and continues to add to the basket with blooper reels, movies and even downloadable ring tones with quotes from the Meerkat. If that wasn’t enough there is even a twitter account for Aleksandr Orlov. A very addictive and fun method of effectively promoting a company with a consistent and maintained campaign behind it.

Making Viral Videos

So what made these videos go viral?  I think its pretty obvious to most.  They bring a smile, engage us, involve us, entertain us and make us think. Notice the amount of times I used the word “us”?  That’s me and you and everyone else.

They worked because they where for US, not for the product, service or message but for the viewers primarily.  Theres definately something to think about there for everyone who wants to use the internet effectively and get us talking about their stuff. Make it about us and for us…. Simplesss (dammit!).