A short conversation on Twitter this morning:
llbarkat: @gyoung9751 thanks for the RT. Isn't that live-stream the coolest thing? Just think, you could live-stream eating your breakfast. :)
gyoung9751: @llbarkat Livestreaming my breakfast? Cheerios with sliced banana? The next viral video on YouTube!
I have a friend who works in social media for another company who is plagued by her boss. He’s generally a pretty good guy, she says, but he has one major character flaw, a flaw that affects her directly and has become like a millstone around her neck.
He wants her to create a viral video.
He wants her to produce a viral video that will put their company on the map and make the world love them.
She understands how viral videos work. She asked me what to do. Other than quit.
I had some suggestions.
Her boss could do a version of the Bud Light commercial, the one where the woman is collecting items for the clothing drive and offers a free Bud Light for every article donated.
Or her boss could dress up in a frumpy housedress, show up on Britain’s Got Talent and act slightly off, and then sing like the angels. And he could keep the dress on and go celebrate the Saints being in the Super Bowl with the rest of the crazy people in New Orleans (I’m a native New Orleanian, so I can say that.)
Or he could do a walk down the wedding aisle that looks more like a rock concert. Or learn to ride a bike. Or learn to sing opera. Or dance in the Antwerp train station. (And the Antwerp one was an ad.)
The fact is, no one who deliberately decided to make a viral video ever succeeds. There’s no explanation, no definition, not even some flimsy guidelines on how to make one. The would-be video producer is totally at the mercy of the people who see the video – they’re the ones who determine what does and doesn’t go viral. Think of social media in general -- it's not the people who produce content who are in control; it's the people who determine whether or not your content is worthwhile.
Viral videos are a combination of content, mood, humor, where the public psyche happens to be at the moment, and – most important of all – phase of the moon. Which phase, however, is unknown. And it changes, like all phases do.
My Cheerios with sliced banana has a better shot at going viral than anything anyone sets out to do deliberately.