Viral videos are all the rage. I work with teenagers and one of the most common statements I hear is “Marti, have you seen the video about (insert topic here).” Some are hilarious, some are mildly inappropriate, and others are profoundly inspirational.
If you’ve never heard the term “going viral,” it essentially means that a video, blog, or other form of internet media has become so popular that many people who are tech-savvy have watched it or at least heard of it. People will post it on their Facebook pages, on Twitter, and whatever other social media they use. More people see it and end up reposting it. All of these things cause the media to become familiar to everyone. Essentially, the media spreads like a virus, hence the term “going viral.”
What makes videos go viral? Other than the fact that the internet has made our world much, much smaller, all of those shares have to be for a common reason, right? Here are a few things that can cause a video to “go viral.”
- They appeal to a collective audience. If a lot of people are watching and sharing a video, many of those people share common bonds of some sort. There was a viral video in the faith community that I saw in one of my youth ministry classes. I’d never even heard of it before class, then I went on Facebook the next day and several of my students and friends from church had posted it. Two days later, they were talking about the same video on one of the radio shows I listen to. This was within a week of first hearing of the Common interests, beliefs, and thought processes can make videos go viral very quickly.
- They invoke emotion, and not necessarily positive. There was a viral video a couple of weeks back where a dad shot his daughter’s laptop because she’d posted something rude on Facebook and he found out about it. I bet that the fact I just said that made some people bristle. Others probably cheered. Many of you probably saw that video. No matter what happened, it invoked emotion inside of you. Whether it’s good, touching, irritating, or even angst-producing, it invokes emotion and you must share.
- They are short. This is probably one of the biggest factors in a video going viral. They usually aren’t incredibly long; I’ve seen some as short as 20 seconds and other that are around 3 to 4 minutes. Go much longer than that and you’ll lose people’s interest. The short lengths make them easy to peek at and pass on, as opposed to having to fully involve yourself in watching something for the long haul.
What do think of viral videos? Are they plain silly, or do they have a purpose? What are some more recent viral videos that you have seen or heard of? What’s your favorite viral video? Can we learn anything from viral videos? Have a great weekend, and we’ll see you here Friday!
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