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  • I’ve grown up in a time and place where if someone saysviralit’s more likely

  • that theyre talking about an internet video than an actual infection.

  • And yet having watched so many, I don’t really know what makes a video so shareable

  • that everyone is talking about it.

  • So in the past couple of weeks, I’ve spent a silly amount of time rewatching the top

  • videos from the past decade, looking for patterns to see if I can figure out some kind of formula.

  • So join me as we over-analyse these videos to see what we can learn from them.

  • Let’s start simple.

  • Here’s a pool of 100 viral videos - dating from 2006 to 2017.

  • They all have more than 4 million views on YouTube alone, one of them almost 3 billion.

  • Out of the hundred, there were 24 videos i’d describe as shocking or surprising - for example

  • this guy blending a brand new iPhone, or the kids who interrupted this BBC interview.

  • 30% could be described asimpressive’, like these trick shots from dude perfect,

  • or OK Go’s music videos, that clearly take a huge amount of time and effort to make.

  • Only 14% of them had thecuteelement, and it's usually kids.

  • 17 were just plain weird, wacky, cringey etcetera.

  • But by far the most common was humour - about fifty percent of them were comedic in some

  • way.

  • A few other notable stats - the average video length from my sample was 4minutes and ten

  • seconds, the longer ones being much more recent, and only 12% didn’t clearly show humans

  • or animals.

  • Okay, now that’s enough statistics, clearly we need to look closer.

  • Because the videos that go viral usually aren’t the highest quality or most artistic videos,

  • most of the time it doesn’t actually matter how much effort went in, but they all have this

  • quality that makes thousands and thousands of people find a friend and sayhey, youve

  • gotta watch this…”

  • And even if theyre sharing it to say, look how hilariously bad this video is, it still

  • counts.

  • So let’s try and work out why someone might wanna share some of these videos:

  • Susan Boyle - here someone who doesn’t look how we expect singers to look, ends up shocking

  • everyone by singing impressively, don’t judge a book by it’s cover.

  • Charlie bit my finger - it’s relatable, it’s quotable, it’s got the cute factor,

  • and the mischief of this little guy is pretty funny.

  • And then there’s evolution of dance, which is impressive how many genres he can switch

  • between, and there’s some humour, but I reckon mostly this one is nostalgic because

  • he covers about fifty years of music, there really is something for everyone.

  • Now obviously we could come up with theories like that all day long, and it’s kinda useless..

  • Unless we can reverse engineer these ideas.

  • So let’s say were making a snowboarding video - and were gonna film someone doing

  • some jumps.

  • Would that be funny?

  • Nope.

  • Would that be cute?

  • No.

  • Would that be shocking?

  • Not really.

  • And is it impressive? only a tiny bit.

  • I struggle to imagine lots of people watching a video of a guy doing some snowboard jumps,

  • and then rushing to their friends to tell them all about it.

  • So what could we do to change that?

  • The most obvious might be if the snowboarder did some mind-blowing, world class tricks...

  • That could go viral, but they’d need to be really, really impressive..

  • It's probably easier if we think outside the box.

  • We could try the cute factor, what if it was a little kid on a snowboard, that could be

  • both cute & impressiveor what if it could be shocking - like someone gets hurt really

  • badly, but they just keep going?

  • Now each of those has a bit more potential than just filming ordinary snowboarding, but

  • none of them are easy to film, they sound complex, time consuming, dangerous or expensive.

  • So instead what if we tried a different kind ofshocking” - why not snowboard in a

  • really surprising place?

  • Instead of down mountains, we could film someone snowboarding down the streets of a city.

  • And of course that’s exactly what happened in January 2016, Casey Neistat snowboarded

  • behind a jeep driving through new york.

  • He didn’t need to do any world-class snowboarding, or break any bones for it to go viral, because

  • the idea of snowboarding through the middle of the street is novel enough.

  • So the concept was solid, but of course that’s only the very beginning - they had to work

  • out the logistics of filming it, and get the video online as soon as possible while the

  • snow in New York was still a hot topic, I believe they did the whole process from start

  • to finish in 24 hours.

  • Now, if Casey was a less confident snowboarder, the video wouldn’t have been as good, if

  • they’d edited it differently, or chosen a different piece of music, it might not have

  • had as much energy.

  • And crucially, if they hadn’t established in the beginning that the roads were closed,

  • it wouldn’t have been so rebellious.

  • And so let’s just imagine that after watching that, I went out and filmed my original idea

  • of filming some regular snowboarding jumps, and then I added some music to it and uploaded

  • it, i’d be crazy to expect it to go viral.

  • But really, it’s pretty delusional to expect anything to go viral, even Casey Neistat other

  • people whove had lots of viral hits - they all say that it's incredibly unpredictable.

  • I know that in my time on YouTube i’ve been constantly reminded of just how bad I am at

  • guessing what will and won't be popular, so I almost feel like it's a waste of time to

  • research in to the latest trends.

  • Maybe the most efficient way togo viralwould be to shoot pranks or try and fake one

  • of those home videos, and I don't know about you, but that’s not what I wanna make.

  • I’d like to get to the point where I don't even care aboutviralityand where i'm

  • just entirely focused on making stuff that I would want to watch.

  • And in a way that’s kind of freeing because it means were in charge, instead of desperately

  • trying find the formula for viral success, it means that we're focusing on what we're doing

  • rather than just desperately hoping that everyone else will help share our video and get it

  • to work.

  • So that’s my cliche conclusion really, that there is no formula, and that we shouldn’t

  • care about what people think, and instead just focus on making the best stuff that we

  • can, and if we do that, and it happens to go viral, then great - well enjoy it while

  • it lasts, because one things for sure - the hype does not last long.

  • My name’s Simon Cade, this has been DSLRguide an i’ll see you next week.

I’ve grown up in a time and place where if someone saysviralit’s more likely

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What Makes Videos Go Viral?

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