-=:¦ …”Understanding Going Viral …

If you know anything about videos, the internet and marketing, you would have heard of the terminology of “going viral”. But do you really understand what the word “viral” means and more importantly, how to achieve it?

I have just recently started studying a book entitled The Viral Video Manifesto (published by Mc -Graw Hill, written by Stephen Voltz and Fritz Grobe) and I got no further than the third chapter that I felt a blog post had to be written.


Google defines the term viral as n. an image, video, advertisement, etc. that is circulated rapidly on the Internet.

Wikipedia expands this to state;

viral, viral advertising, or marketing buzz are buzzwords referring to marketing techniques that use pre-existing social networking services and other technologies to produce increases in brand awareness or to achieve other marketing objectives (such as product sales) through self-replicating viral processes, analogous to the spread of viruses or computer viruses (cf. Internet memes and memetics). It can be delivered by word of mouth or enhanced by the network effects of the Internet and mobile networks.Viral marketing may take the form of video clips, interactive Flash games, advergames, ebooks, brandable software, images, text messages, email messages, or web pages. The most common utilized transmission vehicles for viral messages include: pass-along based, incentive based, trendy based, and undercover based. However, the creative nature of viral marketing enables an “endless amount of potential forms and vehicles the messages can utilize for transmission”, including mobile devices.

The ultimate goal of marketers interested in creating successful viral marketing programs is to create viral messages that appeal to individuals with high social networking potential (SNP) and that have a high probability of being presented and spread by these individuals and their competitors in their communications with others in a short period of time.”

So in short, the etymology relates to viruses found in both nature and in technology and how such a phenomenon spreads very rapidly throughout a community or communities and can go global. This essentially is the key when we are talking about going viral online and to really grasp how things go viral, Voltz and Grobe believe they have come across the four fundamentals;

I. Be True… don’t fake it. Make it real.

II. Don’t Waste My Time… get down to business right away.

III. Be Unforgettable… show us something we’ve never seen before.

IV. It’s All About Humanity… an emotional connection is the key to sharing.

You see to make a video go viral you must understand that it is not necessarily about how good your product or service is, it may not be how well known you are, it comes down to one simple factor… does your video contain something that people want to share, have to share and have to show other people and make sure that they can communicate and conversate over what they or we or you yourself have discovered? It is natural human psychology to want to be the individual who discovered and then shared something with your own circles and this is no exception.

So let’s get straight into it with ten videos you must have seen which went viral… especially if like me you grew up on the YouTube revolution…

David After The Dentist

Views when blog was published – 120,671,586

This simple video showcases the aftermath of little David, a young boy who had just come from the dentist and was still feeling the after affect of the drugs he had been given to knock him out and reduce the pain.

Why it went viral? 

It’s honest, it’s real life, it cuts straight to the action but most significantly David is a natural born star with his innocent comments such as “is this real life” “why is this happening to me” and “is this going to be forever?”. It’s funny because as adults we are seeing a child rationalise something which he is unable too while technically being somewhat high off the drugs. I know I not only watched this with my friends but also shared it around.

Evolution Of Dance – By Judson Laipply

Views when blog was published – 216,940,133

A comedian takes as through several ages of dance one a stage.

Why it went viral? 

For starters the middle aged, slightly cuddly going thin on top guy is actually a pretty good dancer. He is an average guy and all heroes are average guys who do extraordinary things. The reason this probably went viral is not only because he chose very recogniseable songs but as an audience member you are waiting to see if what you think should be in the evolution of dance is present and if so what he will do for it. I watched it the whole way through the first time and several times after that.

Charlie Bit My Finger – Again!

Views when blog was published – 539,284,691

A father films his sons sitting together when the younger brother grabs his hand and bites his older brothers finger.

Why it went viral? 

People love children, we’ve all been one and at some stage most of us will have one (if not many). This probably did the circuit with mothers and new fathers. Once again there is a great innocence to the video, it is so simple and natural and voyeuristic. What makes this video shareable is the reaction of the bite, to which the older brother then gives his younger brother his finger to bite again, which Charlie does without hesitation as if he wants a piece of it. His older brother whales in pain and having released the finger the younger brother smiles cheekily as the older brother recounts the incident with an eventual smile on his face… a happy ending. Charlie has great comic timing and this comes down to the humanity of the video, it’s hilarious.

Double Rainbow

Views when blog was published – 37,853,926

A guy sees a rainbow and then another and so enthusiastically films it.

Why it went viral? 

Apparently this is one of those videos which was shared on a TV show in the USA which of course always encourages people to go and check it out and then talk about it themselves. Again such a simple video, it is the reaction and the joy of the guy who sees the double rainbow which really makes the video something special. He clearly has never seen a rainbow before and is in shock and disbelief. I’d love to see him see a UFO or Santa Clause or something. Over the top? Maybe.

Blue Streak 022012

Views when blog was published – 70,159

A streak of blue paint drying.

Why it went viral? 

First of all you’re probably wondering why I even included this video right? Check the views, wouldn’t any of you love to have 70,000 hits on one of your videos? This was an example of a video which a company was paid for to gain attention of and make around 60,000 hits for and of course, they did it. If a video of blue paint drying can get 70,000 views there is no reason why you can’t do the same thing with a little ingenuity and elbow grease.

Dramatic Chipmunk

Views when blog was published – 39,635,801

A chipmunk stares at the camera with a little music for dramatic effect.

Why it went viral? 

Like children doing silly things, we love being entertained by animals, whether a cat, a dog, a bird or a chipmunk… animals grab our attention and the appropriate music, the dramatic zoom in of the camera and the sudden look of the chipmunk  – I can’t say much more about it because it is that simple. Of course it was also one of the earliest animal videos as well, being published in 2007 (about 18 months after YouTube began). Now we are over saturated with animal videos, but yet we still love them.

The Sneezing Baby Panda

Views when blog was published – 162,933,928

A baby panda sneezes in front of her mother sending her into a moment of shock.

Why it went viral? 

Yes, another animal video lasting a mere 17 seconds yet it went global. Why? Because of the natural reaction of two animals just like the two boys in the earlier video. What makes this video gold is how nonchalant the mother panda is, who is gigantic compared with the baby, chewing on some bamboo or something when the baby sneezes and she goes into sharp reaction before returning to the chew. It’s beautiful because it is simple and because we have all been shocked or scared in the moment by something we thought was something else.


Up to this point it is worth noting that all these videos, accumulating over 1 billion hits together, were simple home videos, no editing, a single shot and what made the video special is the content and the truth of what happened without it being contrived (yes except the blue paint). 



Guys Backflip Into Jeans

Views when blog was published – 8,219,127

A group of guys find a new way of putting on jeans, by jumping into them.

Why it went viral? 

These crazy cats are simply showing us something most have never even dreamt of before, let alone seen. They then go from seeminly ridiculous to almost impossible with some of the feats they have achieved in this video. Props, camera angles, editing and music are employed not to mention many takes to get it right without doubt… we begin moving into the next generation or genre of viral videos.

Baby Monkey (Going Backwards On A PIG)

Views when blog was published – 18,932,070

A baby monkey sitting on the back of a baby pig is released from a cage, which then runs around.

Why it went viral? 

It’s a baby monkey riding backwards on a pig, what more could you ask for? Well it has an awesome song as well not to mention when the baby monkey falls off it goes running after the pig and jumps back on so we know it is doing it through choice. It is certainly unforgettable, its cute and straight away we are i n the action but the video is really adorable because of the song, after all played in silence it just does not have the same affect.

The Extreme Diet Coke And Mentos Experiments

Views when blog was published – 16,611,422

A couple of guys drop Mentos into Diet Coke to cause a mini volcanic eruption.

Why it went viral? 

Simple idea right? Add some music, edit, draw us into the action and then show us something we’ve never seen before. They create a form of art from using the very simple technique orchestrated into a performance of Mentos and Diet Coke. Yes these are the guys which wrote The Viral Video Manifesto.

Old Spice ¦ The Man Your Man Could Smell Like

Views when blog was published – 46,240,671

The Old Spice guy…. say no more.

Why it went viral? 

If you haven’t seen this yet, where have you been! This is our first commercial on the list, there is something wonderfully appealing about this, it’s just ridiculous and a great example of perfect advertising. Old Spice to the younger generations was something your dad had in the cupboard which yes, had dust on the top where it wsn’t used that often. It was not cool. How do you make it cool? With cool advertising. I felt like the double rainbow guy when I first ever saw this and went onto watching every other video they had made before sharing it like wild fire. Admittedly I didn’t go out and buy it… I didn’t want to smell like my dad afterall but the concept was just brilliant and the final whistle at the end of the commcerial is now as memorable as the “do do do do doooo” I’m loving it at the end of the McDonalds commercials… it is there embedded in the subconscious forever. Clever.

OK GO – This Too Shall Pass

Views when blog was published – 40,623,626

OK Go are a music band and this is their music video for the track “This Too Shall Pass”.

Why it went viral? 

Originally truth is held in something without editing, where  a camera follows all the action and this video has somewhat attempted that. And if the Old Spice guy wasn’t ridiculous enough, when you see this video which puts kinetic energy into great use it just gets more and more absurd as the video goes on. It is the domino effect on another level. It is something which as kids we have done to a tiny example, as adults we all dream of doing this but know… by the first shot, that this was not the first time they had attempted the video (which although it appears it was shot in one continuous go was done in around three takes if you look carefully at the clever cuts). These guys started out with their music video with the treadmills and it won’t be too hard for you to find either.

Somebody That I Used To Know – Walk Of The Earth

Views when blog was published – 153,048,511

Music video by the band Walk Of The Earth.

Why it went viral? 

Another music video example (and we didn’t even mention Gangnam Style!) whereby we are probably seeing something we have never seen before, the skill and talent involved is amazing not to mention they chose a great song which alone clocked up worldwide publicity. As such they ended up on chat shows such as Ellen Degeneres in the USA.


Did you notice I went past ten videos. Yes there are loads of videos out there that we could have chosen, but these were examples discussed and given in The Video Viral Manifesto and ironically I had seen them all so I am guessing if you have reached this far in the blog you would have seen over 50% of the videos mentioned as well.  The effect of this blog alone contributes to the viral nature of these videos.

With the width and breadth of things and ideas and quirky visuals there is no end to what could possibly go viral, and then there are many factors. For example, you may be selling a product in the UK but suddenly go viral in Japan. As a local based business this may be not as beneficial as going viral in a local market.

We also have to be realistic when producing videos with regards to our expectations and then the conversion into sales. So many factors fall into place which as variables could make you the next big thing, or place you on the pile with most other mediocre videos and viral attempts at marketing.

Most videos will not go viral…what is viral to you anyway? 100,000 hits, a million hits, 50 million hits? As I continue to read more of the Video Viral Manifesto no doubt further strategy into viral marketing will appear, so consider this an introduction case study to viral marketing with great examples.

So take it from the experts, be true, don’t waste my time, be unforgettable and remember; it’s all about the humanity.



Methodworks Production is an independent video and film production company based in London in the UK. We are continuously seeking a method for improvement and success for our respective clients.

Are you considering video marketing? Get in touch hello@methodworksproduction.com.

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