In a world where YouTube has over 4 billion videos viewed a day and 60 hours of video uploaded to every minute (highlighted in the humorous One Hour per Second website), brands are always trying to find a way to make shareable content.

Kevin Allocaa, YouTube’s trends manager, weighed in on the keys to viral videos in a TED talk in November of last year.

In using some of the most viral videos as examples, he shows how Tastemakers (or celebrities), Participation, and Unexpectedness create shareable content.  Tastemakers, like Jimmy Kimmel sharing the Yosemite Rainbow video via Twitter, can boost a video’s views overnight.  Videos prone to remixes, conducive to conversation and prompt user interaction (just try searching for ‘Call Me Maybe’ on YouTube) fit the criteria.  The unexpectedness factor is rather self-explanatory, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be silly.  Take this Nike Make it Count video—instead of promoting sports culture as Nike usually does, this documentary-esque account of the filmmakers’ once in a lifetime trip strays from Nike’s norm and strikes viral gold.


Jon Steinberg, president of Buzzfeed, and Jack Krawczyk, senior marketing manager at StumbleUpon, also have contributed to the discussion of viral videos in an AdAge article published in March.  While they touch on many of the same ideas as Kevin Allocaa, they push the importance of close friends, instead of celebrities.  For ever Facebook share, only nine people visited the story—proving that the most viral of content is not shared by one person, with hundreds of thousands of people viewing.

Bringing it back to the TED Talk, all this insight on viral videos is great but…. “What does it meeeaan?!?”

First, we think that word-of-mouth is the primary component in making something viral.  The AdAge article reminds us that when we recommend something through conversation, we don’t use a bullhorn to spread our message.  Know your audience and what they’re talking about.  After all, the audience defines a video’s popularity.  The more a brand’s video can become a part of a community lifestyle, the more shareable the content becomes.

For your viewing pleasure here are few of our favorite viral videos:

Charlie Bit Me:


The Evolution of Dance


David After Dentist


Pepsi’s Uncle Drew


TNT’s Unexpected Surprise