Yep, I went viral. You can watch my viral video, featured on Good Morning America and dozens of the most-read news websites in the world, below. Here’s a few things I learned about that bats*** crazy couple of days.
1. Going viral is like tripping in front of hundreds of kids at a public school assembly
A lot of kids start laughing. They find what happened to you really, really funny. They find it so funny that they tell everyone they know what happened. But there’s a bunch of kids at assembly who don’t think your trip was all that memorable. In fact, a few of those kids find you so un-funny that they walk over to you afterward and tell you, to your face. For them, it’s personal. For some reason, they want you to know how much they personally hate you. They might even bring your family into it.
2. Going viral has surprisingly few barriers to entry
Most of the time, all you need to go viral is a great moment, and a video camera. As long as you have a way of shooting whatever it is you’re trying to capture, nothing else about the production really matters. If you find this hard to believe, think about it this way: Hollywood movie studios have literally billions of dollars at their disposal, yet manage to churn out a surprising number of stinkers every year like clockwork.
3. Anyone who tells you they’ve figured out how to go viral is straight up lying
Like tripping at that school assembly, 99.9 percent of viral videos are accidental. The videos that go the most viral are often the ones that seem, well, accidental. They are genuine, and that makes them endearing to the masses. Think Chewbacca Mom, 2016’s biggest viral video with 161 million views on Facebook. The other 0.01 percent of viral videos are made by internet celebrities who have spent years building an audience and know exactly what they’re doing. But even YouTube veterans like Casey Neistat and PewDiePie only manage to go viral every so often, proving that influencers with millions of followers haven’t figured this out, either.
4. People will stop caring about your viral video faster than they started. BUT there’s a trick to make them stick around
Remember Damn, Daniel? Joshua Holz, the kid behind that ridiculously popular Twitter video, only got 5,000 views on his first YouTube vlog. Holz was smart to try to leverage the stupendously popular video about his friend’s Vans, but he didn’t act fast enough. He waited more than six months before uploading that Youtube vlog, and by then, most people had already moved on to the next thing.
Holz also messed up because he posted a travel video. He’d have been far better off posting something similar to Damn, Daniel. Anything else felt inorganic, and the masses didn’t care. Rebecca Black did a much better job. Sure, everyone hated “Friday,” but 30 million people watched “Saturday,” and today Black has over a million subscribers on YouTube.
5. The idea of a viral “trend” is a fallacy
It makes absolutely no sense to try to jump on a viral trend, because “viral trend” is an oxymoron. A video goes viral because it is surprising; because it breaks rank from the rest of the videos on your feed and says LOOK AT ME, I’M LIKE NOTHING YOU’VE EVER SEEN BEFORE. You can certainly catch the wave of a viral video, similar to the countless vampire romance novels that came out after Twilight. But you’re doomed to remain in the overwhelming shadow of the original trend-setter.
If you’re interested, you can watch my viral video here.