The Week’s Best Viral Videos & What We Can Learn From Them – 10/29/10

The Week’s Best Viral Videos & What We Can Learn From Them – 10/29/10

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It’s time again for another recap of the week’s best viral videos.  In addition to naming some of my favorites from the last seven days or so, we’ll also try and dig a bit deeper to find a lesson—some nugget of inspiration or advice we can take away from this experience to help inform and shape our own viral video creation efforts.  Whether you’re looking to dig a little deeper and gain real insight into what it takes to make a successful video, or you’re just wanting to watch a few videos and have fun… I hope you’ll find what you’re looking for here.

Let’s dig in:

People Are Awesome

There’s a video with nearly 2 million views this week—it was uploaded four days ago—and I’m seeing it all over the place.  It’s called “People Are Awesome.”  From the description: “A compilation of awesome people doing incredible things.”

It’s basically some of the most amazing feats on YouTube, cobbled together into a nice five-minute montage, with the whole thing set to music.  Some of these clips you’ve probably seen before, but there are almost certainly some new ones in here for everyone.  Check it out:

Now, I could point out how popular this kind of video content is—regular people with irregular and spectacular talents—and that would be a valid lesson.  Audiences love to be amazed.  Similarly… they love a good controversy.  And while this video contains a ton of honest footage of amazing things, a handful of the feats are possibly staged or fake.  Which leads to a bit of controversy, increased commenting, and an overabundance of sharing—all good things for viral success.

But what I really want to point out about this video is the creator:  YouTube user account “Hadoukentheband.”  It’s a band.  A band called, “Hadouken.”  And they have made tons of these montage videos—you might have been one of the 7.5 million who saw last year’s “100 Greatest Hits of YouTube in 4 Minutes” video.

Hadouken is a band that uses YouTube videos as a promotional vehicle for their music.  They cobble together montages and clips from other videos, exercising a keen eye for entertainment along with good editing skills.  And then they put one of their own songs behind it as background music, and use the description and annotations to drive traffic to iTunes so they can make money.  Brilliant.

While the band does have other videos—some appear to be original music videos—there’s something to be said for this montage-music-video concept.  They don’t need a camera, a script, or even any filmmaking talent—just some editing skills and a new song to share.  And people love montage videos, provided the clips are properly selected and cut together.

Please don’t ever think you have to be a talented director in order to succeed with online video.  You don’t.  Heck, you don’t even necessarily have to even film anything.

Illusions & Beatboxing

If you’re a regular reader of this column, then you know how much I appreciate a video that clearly displays a unique or exceptional talent.  And video audiences appreciate that sort of thing too.  We like to be amazed—to see things we’ve never seen before, things that defy belief.  And even more… we love to share these types of videos with our friends.

A pair of videos this week show off incredible talent, and they’re both so good I couldn’t choose just one.  First off, we have an illusionist—he creates anamorphic illusions and they’re all pretty impressive.  (We previously featured his “Amazing Fire Illusion” video in this column).  This time he uses unwound cassette tapes to create a boom-box.  Take a look:

Another video I stumbled upon this week that I greatly enjoyed is called “Best DNB Beatbox.”  Now, I love a good beatbox video, and not because I’m particularly fond of that style of music.  No, my fascination with beatboxing is similar to everyone else’s, and it’s related to that “how did he do that” effect.  I’m so amazed that people can command their body to make the kinds of noises and complex arrangements that some of these guys come up with.  It seems unnatural, which is why it amazes.  For instance, how many of you can do this:

Pretty much any video showing off exceptional talent has a better-than-average shot at going viral.  And it really doesn’t matter what the talent is, so long as it’s something rare.   Despite what you may have read, video fans are quite open-minded when it comes to this sort of thing.  Talent is talent, even if it’s not in a mainstream activity.  If you have a unique ability—there’s never been a better time to capitalize on it.

The Time Traveler

This week, millions of viewers have  been lured into a debate about time travel by a crafty video creator named George Clarke.  In a documentary style, he shows footage from the Charlie Chaplin classic film, “The Circus,” to point out what he believes could be evidence of a time traveler—a woman using a cell phone in the background of the film, which was made in 1928.

Watch him build his case (if you have 8 minutes to spare):

Now… do I believe the woman in question is a time traveler?  Not at all.  Do I think George Clarke believes the woman is a time traveler?  Not at all.  But the freeze-frame is odd enough that he can create doubt in the viewer’s mind—particularly when that viewer is already susceptible to conspiracy-theorist thinking.  Just like last week’s unicorn video proved, if people want to believe something badly enough, they don’t need much evidence to be persuaded.

But whether or not Clarke believes in time travel himself doesn’t matter.  All that matters is that he created a nearly flawless “documentary” of his findings, showing enough evidence to prove that a mystery exists before filling it in with his own suggested explanation (time travel).  It’s gotten people talking—which usually gets them forwarding things to one another—and has led to millions of views.

Not Viral Yet, But Should Be

It’s Halloween weekend, so I had to find a way to throw in at least one holiday-related video.  Hence this adorable Jawa costume (from Star Wars).  I would have done anything for a costume like this when I was this age.

Honorable Mention

If I had more time and space, I would also have pointed out the following viral successes:


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