The Building Blocks of 'Making it Go Viral'


It’s official.  The world as we know it has accepted video as the most effective means currently available to communicate a message to your audience. But why?  What makes Justine Ezarik (known as “ijustine”) able to get 500,000 people watch her in the Apple Store, dancing like a 12 year old boy who drank too much Red Bull? How did the pantlessknights get 3,500,000 people to watch two guys dressed in black pretend to be robots and do really weird things?  It’s simple.  These innovators…these entrepreneurs, made sure that above all else, their content was spreadable.  Something only truly goes viral when it is spreadable [To clarify this term, it means you must make sure your content is fun, interesting, and easy for people to talk about]. These are your building blocks for a popular viral video:

  • Humor
  • Landmarks
  • Music
  • Relatable
  • Big Cast
  • Celebrities
  • Inspirational
  • Controversial
  • Current Trends
  • Shocking / New / Unique
  • Or of course….Dancing Babies & Cute Kittens
I tend to learn /understand things best through real life examples so let me show you the power of these “ideas” in action:


“The Original YouTube Surprise Wedding Dance” – Surprising everyone at your wedding by breaking out into “The Robot” during your sentimental first dance…now that is funny, and 10 million other people agree.


“Lady Gaga – Bad Romance” – I mean….236,525,000 views?!?!  That is crazy.  Lady Gaga sold 24,000 albums in her first week, which is awesome.  If it was even possible for her to sell that many records every single week for an entire year she would have sold 1,248,000.  And that is still only 1/189th of the amount of exposure she got from YouTube. Wow.  The power of YouTube.

Big Cast

LIPDUB – I Got a Feeling (Black Eyed Peas Cover) – This video got 3 million views in 3 months!  And now has well over 6,300,000 views…but how?  Choreograph an amazing video with a popular song….then get 172 extremely outgoing students to be in the video.  Now get each of these students to enthusiastically spread the “cool new video they were a part of” to their, on average, 130 Facebook friends.  Who will in some way or another pass it on to 130 more people because….”OMG, look how cute my BFF Sarah looks in this video!” 172 people x 130 friends x 130 friends/bloggers/etc = 3 Million Views


“Al Pacino’s Inspirational (“Inches”) Speech” – OK,OK, so I may have picked this one because I think it’s the single best halftime speech of any football movie ever.  But the point is…its inspirational, I challenge you to watch this and NOT get goose bumps.  And hence, it has just under 5 MILLION views.


“Tina Fey & David Letterman Make Fun of Sarah Palin” – Nearly 2 million people watched Tina and David make fun the “oh so” controversial Sarah Palin.  And her interview with Katie Couric was watched by 3 times as many people.  Be controversial and people will not only watch, but they will tell someone about it.

Everyone’s Favorites

Dancing babies and cute kittens Evian Roller Babies – Over 24 million views…I mean they are so damn cute, and surprisingly really good at rollerblading.   And a REAL baby:  Go Beyonce Jr.! “Surprised Kitty Original” – I mean this kitten actually beat out the Evian babies doing jumps on roller blades…Bravo. (Over 27 million views) I would imagine you have already seen a handful of these videos, but I hope this helped drive home the point a bit more.  If you are sitting there wondering “how does this relate to my business or startup?” Hold tight, as now is the time in this blog post that I reveal, my company Grasshopper Group is responsible for creating “The New Dork – Entrepreneur State of Mind” (over 1 million views).  Do you know what we did?  We went through the list I provided above and found a way to work every single idea in there (well except for the cute kittens and dancing babies).  You wouldn’t believe the press we got… If you want to hear more about viral marketing or web videos you can reach out to me at @grasshopperbuzz or I will be speaking on the Web Video for Marketing Panel at the Social Fresh Charlotte Charlotte conference.]]>


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