This is my first viral video round up post since the new year began, and it’s obvious from the start that this is going to be another great year in viral video.  The holidays didn’t slow down the online video creating community one bit. There are already too many great videos that have gone viral in the last week for me to have an easy time choosing which ones to feature. You’ll have to forgive me if I indulge myself a bit as we ease into this new year, allowing a few more to creep into my list than normal.

Let’s dive into the videos as well as the lessons we can learn from each:

Google Teases Android Honeycomb for Tablets

I’ve said it enough times that I’m sure I sound like a broken record, but Google is pretty good at creating marketing videos that go viral.  And this week, they’ve done it again.  Their latest video is designed to serve as a bit of a teaser trailer for their upcoming Honeycomb version of Android–which is specifically designed for tablet devices.  Take a look:

I’m guessing someone at Google saw Tron: Legacy over the Christmas break, no?  Regardless… this is yet another slick video that succeeds for a couple of important reasons.  First, Android is seen as a real competitor to Apple’s iOS, especially in the smart phone world.  Heck, most reports show Android is growing in users faster than any competitor.  But the tablet world has been absolutely dominated by the iPad since it came out next year.  So anyone interested in tablet computing who was not ready to purchase an iPad has had to wait patiently for Android-based competitors to come to market.

So there’s a built in audience waiting to see anything they can regarding Honeycomb.  That translates nicely into a nice initial audience for this video–over 100,000 in just one day.  But beyond just piquing interest, this video does something so obvious and perfect to help its viral rise: It demonstrates a very slick, very cool-looking product. I was curious about tablets before this… but now I want one.  That’s a pretty powerful demo that can cause that reaction.

Cats Don’t Understand

People love cats.  People love viral videos.  Therefore… people love viral videos starring cats.  I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that there are plenty of cat videos that never go viral.  It takes a special cat, and predicting the online community’s response to a particular cat video is quite the inexact science. Some feline viral stars are funny.  Some are awkward or caught in the midst of an embarrassing pratfall or mistake.  Others are just exploring boxes.

And a pair of videos this week demonstrate a new trend I see developing in the niche world 0f cat videos–cats that don’t understand the world of humans.

First up, a cat that does not understand the concept of a mirror:

Before you ask, no… that’s not the first viral video success featuring a cat attacking its own reflection–it’s a whole new sub-genre!

Another cat this week had trouble comprehending the contraptions of human beings–this time, a washing machine:

Viral audiences love to be surprised, and it’s a huge motivator in securing that social and viral sharing behavior we all crave–it might even be one of the most powerful motivators.  Whether you’re showing off a talent, a blooper, or even an epic “fail” event, you gain a true viral advantage when your video showcases an outcome that does not match audience expectation.

TV News Stories Go Viral

In my 2010 viral video recap article last Friday, one of the trends and lessons from the year’s viral hits that I mentioned was how frequently the local TV news goes viral.  News reporters in local markets are still find able to find a unique story, even in this global village of a world we live in today.  That’s kind of impressive to me, really.

This week, two filmed news pieces hit the web and went nuclear almost immediately.  The first concerns a homeless man with an uncanny radio DJ voice.  Check it out:

How viral did this get?  Well, the man with the golden radio voice got a haircut, hundreds of job offers, and a new house… all within 24 hours!  Next time someone tells you that viral video is a waste of time, you point them straight to this guy.

As it turns out, the public is almost as interested in homemade superheroes as they are in homeless radio DJ’s, a fact that helped propel this video to some serious views in a very short time:

Earlier this year, Hollywood released an entire movie about a regular citizen putting on an outfit and becoming a non-super-powered crime-fighter.  Now we have footage of the same thing… only in real life. Part of me loves this, and wants to see it spread to all the major U.S. cities.  And part of me can’t help but think that this kind of thing is dangerous–to the public, sure… but also to the “heroes.”  Either way, I hope I don’t have to explain why footage of a real life “superhero” would capture the viral viewing audience’s attention.

Honorable Mention

If I’d had more time, I would have also included these: