The Week’s Best Viral Videos & Marketing Lessons – 12/24/2010

The Week’s Best Viral Videos & Marketing Lessons – 12/24/2010

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It’s Christmas Eve, and even though many of us aren’t in the office today going about our normal routine, we can still take a few moments to check out some of the week’s better viral video success stories.  In fact, I’m squeezing in a few more videos that normal this week–consider it a Christmas Bonus.

Since I’m sure some of you still have last-minute shopping to do, let’s not waste any time:

The Lunar Eclipse

Did you see the big lunar eclipse this week?  What’s that?  You say you’re usually asleep at 2 in the morning?  Yeah, me too.  Fortunately for us, Vimeo user William Castleman filmed it all in glorious HD and shared it all with the world.  Take a look:

The video, uploaded only three days ago, is already over a million views.  It’s easy to see why.  The event is haunting and beautiful.  But there’s something greater than great camerawork that’s pushing this video’s popularity–history.

A lunar eclipse, in and of itself, is not a particularly momentous occasion.  There’s one or two every year.  But a lunar eclipse on the date of the Winter Solstice, well… that’s a whole lot more rare.  It’s been almost 500 years since the last time we had one of these on the Winter Solstice.  So a high-quality video capture of the event would document a bit of history.

People love history.  Particularly, we love to be a part of making it… and we love reliving it.  Anyone who missed the eclipse because of the time of night at which it occurred can now see it.  It’s not live, of course, but it’s a whole lot better view than one would see with the naked eye.  The next time a lunar eclipse happens on the Winter Solstice, nobody alive today will be around to tell the story of this one… but this video will still exist–at least in theory.  It’s a permanent record of a very cool and rare historical event, which I’m guessing is part of the reason Castleman was moved to make the recording in the first place.

Show Us Your Talent

Some of the most popular online video creators are virtual unknowns who are impressing the masses with their exceptional talents–visual effects talents, to be specific.  Audiences are used to being wowed by Spielberg’s aliens or Michael Bay’s explosions, but they’re not used to seeing the same jaw-dropping effects from the guy next door.  Two videos this week illustrate the viral draw of outstanding visuals, and it was too tough to choose between them, so you get both.

Freddiew’s latest video imagines what first-person shooting video games might look like in the future if graphic quality continues to improve:

And while Freddiew isn’t a Hollywood pro, he’s also not a newbie to the world of online video.  He’s been at this a bit.  But another video this week comes from a creator with even less experience… a student.  Here’s the graduate film school project from Vimeo user “uiralamour”:

These guys both have more visual effects talent in a single toe than I have in my whole being.  Clearly they’re more skilled than most, which is why we’re so impressed with their wizardry and why we’re so quick to share the amazement with our friends. In Freddiew’s case, I think it’s actually his humor that most people notice most and enjoy, which makes it easy to forget the technical prowess that’s happening behind the scenes on his videos.

Whether or not you go to film school, online video has evolved to the point where anyone with enough talent and persistence can and will find an audience.  And when that talent is truly exceptional and rare, then online video creates stars.

Montage of Luck

You’ve surely seen one or more “fail” videos, right?  Fail videos typically involve an accident, pratfall, or screw-up.  And while there’s a great year-end fail montage that went viral this week, I thought we’d take the opposite approach and celebrate the “luck” montage.  Both videos are made by the same creator.  Check out all the folks who got terribly lucky and shared it on YouTube in 2010:

This time of year lends itself really well to recap and montage videos, since the end of 2010 has most of us in a reflective mood already.  So giving people a look back at some of the highlights of the last 12 months is likely to trigger feelings of nostalgia in the viewer.  But more importantly than that… this video shows us some amazing footage–a lot of amazing footage.  If your jaw doesn’t hang open even once during the entire 8 minutes, then you’ve seen it all.  (I’m especially impressed with the motorcycle racer who somehow manages to climb back up on the bike after falling).

Give your audience nostalgia or amazement, and they will repay you by forwarding your video to their friends.  Give them both at once, and you’ll go viral in no time.

The Cutest Thing I’ve Ever Seen In My Life

This next video depicts a baby and a cat who are both enjoying the same string.  It was uploaded on December 12, and then just sat there until yesterday, when it flat-out exploded.  While it isn’t into the hundreds of thousands yet (as of this writing), I believe it will be very, very soon.  If you hate cute things, animals, and babies… go ahead and skip this one… otherwise, get ready to smile:

The cat may very well be cute in its own right, but most of this video’s viewers will never know it.  The baby is the star, and her unbridled joy is infectious.  Even if you don’t love this video, I bet while watching it you thought of someone you know who would love it.  And that, folks, is how viral snowballs get rolling.

Honorable Mention

Here are some other great viral clips from the week that you might enjoy:


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