What Makes Videos Go Viral?

grumpy cat from viral video fame

What Makes Videos Go Viral?

There are quite a few viral videos out there, but what makes videos go viral in the first place? After the VMP team had some fun with the recent viral trend, the Ice Bucket Challenge, we decided to take a look at some of the top viral trends out there and what makes them so successful.

Ice Bucket Challenge- Fundraising for a cause meets fun  

The recent Ice Bucket Challenge phenomenon has been hard to miss, if you haven’t seen the multiple celebrities or Politician’s who have participated you can head to our Facebook page to watch some of our staff and give you a first taste.

Let’s be honest, you know about the ice bucket challenge – you either clicked the link to see our poor staff suffer for a good cause or skipped over it because you’ve already see enough ice bucket challenges for one life time. The ice bucket challenge is finally petering out, but it managed to evoke very different reactions online, and we’re going to break down why some viral videos have such success and why some just don’t last.

The Ice Bucket Challenge was designed to promote awareness for ALS, the disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and encourage donations to research. As the name suggests, it involves people filming themselves getting soaked by a bucket of ice water. People have fun creating the videos, and some enjoy the challenge of pushing the dare to extremes like this guy.  The great thing about the IBC is the call for action. Millions have been raised for the ALS and many other charities have seen a spike in donations thanks to the IBC. It has been extremely successful as a fundraising tool and the reason for its viral success is because it’s interactive! Getting a chance to not only watch other people being drenched with water, but actually being challenged to do it yourself, keeps the videos engaging and keeps the trend going. When you complete the challenge yourself, it has become a trend for you to name one or a couple of your friends and family to accept the challenge as well, meaning the videos keep spreading. The big tip here: for your next video, be sure to include some kind of call to action, and try to make it a challenging or shareable so your video can go viral as well.

Cat YouTube Videos- The never-failing cute or weird animal effect

Moving onto the more traditional viral videos such as ‘Grumpy Cat’ memes to ‘Nyan Cat’, the viral cat videos and trends on the internet are endless and just keep growing. What makes these so popular? Here at VMP we (ok just me, but it is going to be a thing soon) refer to it as “The never-failing cute or weird animal effect.” It is not just confined to cat videos, as the popularity of ‘Sneezing Panda’ demonstrates, but you have to admit there is an extremely large portion of viral cat videos in comparison to other weird and cute animal videos. So how can you use this to your advantage in your next video production? While you could throw in a random cat stalking across your desk in the next corporate promotion, I don’t highly recommend this one to make your production go viral unless your message, company, or product directly has to do with animals. A common saying in the film world is that the two hardest things to film and work with are children and animals, and from my experience it is true. But that doesn’t rule out throwing in a cute animal animation, some still photos, or even just references to these weird cat and animal YouTube videos in the form of a Grumpy Cat coffee mug to throw out a reference to your viewers that will make them smile.

 OMG Shoes- Catchy songs and spoof videos

I know it is more than a couple of years old, but does everyone still remember the viral YouTube sensation “OMG Shoes”? There are many more examples out there, but I choose this one because it doesn’t have that much content to the lyrics but due to the catchy tune and spoof-like factor of the music video it still comes to mind when one thinks of this category of viral videos. A video that has music you can’t get out of your mind, or that makes you laugh, is more likely to have a large number of viewers and remain popular for a longer amount of time. Check out the catchy song/spoof video we made for Conquer Termites here. This is a great example of how a catchy song and funny video can capture and maintain your viewers’ attention.

Honestly, there is no telling what the next viral video is. And anyone who promises you they can create one is either lying or a God like presence in human form. But if you believe in learning from the past there are a few quick tips for a viral video. Make it catchy/funny/involve cute animals and give it call to action. But most of all just get it out there. You’ve got to be in it to win it peeps.

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Fri, 14/11/2014 – 3:13pm


“Here Are Some Great Viral Videos To Celebrate YouTube Turning 8.” Business Insider Australia. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Oct. 2014. <http://www.businessinsider.com.au/here-are-some-great-viral-videos-to-ce….

“New Video: Kelly — Of ‘OMG, Shoes’ — The Prequel!.” Buzzworthy. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Oct. 2014. <https://www.mtv.com/news/mjwo2z/new-video-kelly-of-omg-shoes-the-prequel.

“Striking Out ALS: Ice Bucket Challenge Brings Flood of Donations – NBC News.” NBC News. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Oct. 2014. <http://www.nbcnews.com/feature/making-a-difference/striking-out-als-ice-….