Want a Video to Go Viral? Focus on Entertainment

In less than 15 hours, 2009 will be a memory.  I want to wish you a happy and successful New Year!

I’m excited for all that lies ahead in 2010 for our economy, businesses, Social Business Strategies (my firm), and the many projects we have up in the air right now.  Based on some email I’ve been receiving recently, I feel like there are a ton of you who are confused as to what I’m doing these days.  Truth is, that’s completely my fault.  Things have been changing so fast and frequently that I’ve been waiting to put out a more formal announcement to get you all up to speed.  That said, I’m sorry for my lack of transparency and assure you that I will have more details in a post to come.

Most of us “social media types” read Mashable daily.  It’s a compilation of great info on the growing industry.  Today, the headline Shocker: Surprised Kitten More Popular Than Michael Jackson [STATS] caught my eye.  The post compiles a nice list of the most shared stories shared by users of the AddThis widget.  While the data may be skewed by the fact that there are multiple sharing applications out there, and this only represents a small portion, it’s still a pretty interesting list:

  1. Santa Yourself: 71,848 shares
  2. The Kim Komando Show – Video of the Day African thunderstorm: 50,008 shares
  3. Pawnation – Suprised Kitty Rampages Across Nation: 32,270 shares
  4. disinformation – Cannabis College Now Enrolling Students: 24,338 shares
  5. Pawnation – Viral Extreme Shepherding Ad Campaign Lights Up the Welsh Hills: 18,165 shares
  6. TMZ – Michael Jackson Dies:  13,481 shares
  7. Mercola.com – Swine Flu –  One of the Most Massive Cover-ups in American History: 12,722 shares
  8. lemondrop – Best. Wedding Entrance. Ever.: 12,693 shares
  9. Pawnation – Faith the Two-Legged Dog Turns Seven This Christmas: 11,546 shares
  10. CNBC – Santelliâ’s Tea Party: 11,020 shares
  11. tom’s hardware – Best Graphics Cards For The Money: November 09: 10,802 shares
  12. PopEater – Ukrainian Has Definitely Got Talent: 10,620 shares
  13. Telegraph – Mahmoud Ahmadinejad revealed to have Jewish past: 10,502 shares
  14. The Kim Komando Show – Video of the Day  Man’s surprising laugh: 7,340 shares
  15. El Caso Mascherano – Investigac Parte 1: 7,149 shares

The kitten is cute, isn’t she?  I remember sharing the lemondrop Best Wedding Entrance. Ever. video as well.  Why did I share that particular video?  First, it was creative enough to grab my attention.  I had never seen a wedding processional do that before.  It was entertaining to watch.  Second, at 5:09 view time the video on YouTube was short enough to not impede my day.  I don’t even think I finished watching the whole thing, but was able to see enough to share it on Facebook, Twitter and via email to close friends – some of whom were planning weddings at the time.  What’s interesting to me is that when I first saw this video in July, it had already reached 50 thousand views overnight.  That type of velocity is no joke.  Today, the video stands at 36,677,349 views.  And it’s still climbing.

When you’re creating viral videos for your brand, take this to heart.  On YouTube, no one really cares about what your office building looks like.  No one really cares about the culture of your company or your mission and values.  Getting people to care about your product or service is a sketchy attempt at best.

Notice a trend in the list above?  The videos that people watch and spread on YouTube all have several things in common.

  1. Short and sweet content.  We’re all busy people so this is a must.
  2. Entertainment.  We all need a break from the grind on occasion.
  3. Purple Cows.  Seth Godin says it best.  Show me something I’ve never seen before and you’ll have my attention and my social network.

Why people spread viral videos is simple, too.

  1. Self actualization.  All three reasons above make me want to show my friends.  By showing my friends, I get a feather in my cap for the day.
  2. It’s easy.  If I only need to click 2-3 times to share a video, there’s no reason for me not to share it.
  3. Popularity and bandwagon.  Other people are watching and spreading the same video, and I want to be like all the other cool kids.

What do you think?  Have a different opinion or something to add?