Going viral: The method behind the videos



“Gangnam Style,” “How animals eat their food,” and “Keyboard Cat” are three videos with one thing in common; they all went viral.  Ever since YouTube began in 2005, viral videos have become a part of modern society.

If a video has gone viral, that means that it spread quickly via social media within a short amount of time.  One guideline for this is the video having millions of views in the span of a week.

According to Forbes, there are certain aspects that increase the likelihood of a video “going viral.”  These include being upbeat and interactive.  It is also recommended that the video is short, so that viewers do not get bored.

Professor Jonah Berger of Wharton University, an expert on social influences and marketing, has conducted studies on how emotions affect the likelihood of a video going viral. Emotions that cause a stronger reaction in viewers, such as amusement, often cause the video to spread faster than those that evoke emotions that do not cause as strong of a reaction, such as contentment.

A well-known example of viral videos were the “Harlem Shake” videos in 2013.  In these, a lone individual dances to the Baauer song “Harlem Shake,” followed by many people appearing to dance wildly. In February 2013, hundreds of these videos went onto the Internet every day, resulting in it being proclaimed a viral trend.

Sometimes, businesses use viral videos to draw attention to themselves.  Blendtec, a company that produces blenders, used a series of videos called “Will It Blend?” to promote their products.  The videos proved the power of the blenders as various objects, including an iPhone, were torn apart inside the machine, and sales increased greatly.

Having one’s video go viral is usually viewed as positive. This is because of how uncommon it is to have that happen, as less than one percent of published videos go viral.  There is also the rush of popularity that often accompanies it.

Sometimes though, the videos have a more negative effect.  Published in 2003 without the featured individual’s permission, Ghyslain Raza faced bullying for many years because of the viral video “Star Wars Kid.” He now speaks out against cyberbullying.

Raza isn’t the only person to have faced cruel comments because of a video.  Although they are in the minority, those confronted with cyberbullying make it dubious if having your video go viral is worth the criticism.

To many though, the fame is priceless. 


Melissa Irish