The Week’s Best Viral Videos & Marketing Lessons – Tornadoes, Cats, & Cellos

The Week’s Best Viral Videos & Marketing Lessons – Tornadoes, Cats, & Cellos

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Each Friday I give video curating a shot with this column, hoping to find videos that both entertain and educate. Even in unbranded “home video” success stories we can find things to learn: what causes emotional responses in viewers, how videos are shared, and what types of videos are most likely to trigger viral behavior. The viral landscape is a living, breathing entity, always changing, adapting, and evolving.

Here’s a sampling of what it looked like this week:

The Unbelievable

An overwhelming majority of viral videos use humor as an emotional trigger, banking that the audience will want to share the laughs. But after comedy, perhaps the second-most-popular variety of viral video is the jaw-dropper, the clip that shows us something unbelievable, rare, or astonishing. There were a ton of these this week.

Like the man in North Carolina who earlier this week filmed a tornado passing right over him, from the relative comfort of the inside of his truck. It’s easy to make fun of this fellow for not getting to safety when he had the chance, but I’m more amazed by how utterly calm he remains throughout the ordeal. Take a look:

Another jaw-dropping act of nature that horrified me this week? Pollen. Specifically, Tennessee pollen, which I’ve had the pleasure of dealing with for the past few weeks. I knew the pollen was bad here because my sinuses told me so, but I didn’t know it was quite this bad (this video is technically from last year, but only recently got popular):

Human talents come in all shapes and sizes. Some are physical, but others are musical. Both kinds can be pretty jaw-dropping. Like the juggling drummer:

A good number of the videos that fall into the “unbelievable” category are controversial, or of the “was that real or was that fake?” variety. Like videos about UFO sightings, or aliens. You might have heard about the alien who crash landed in Russia, who stars in our next video. (Warning–there are a few gore/graphic moments):

Going viral, for brands and amateurs alike, is entirely about causing an emotional reaction in the viewer. One strong enough to make them want to share that emotion with others. And everyone wants to impress their friends. If we can’t do it by performing the actual amazing feats ourselves, we can at least get credit for being the ones to share the link.


Some people think cat videos are the lowest form of Internet video. Those people are bitter Scrooges. There’s a reason cute animal clips go viral every week: people freaking love them. Let’s look at a few of the most entertaining animal videos that saw viral action this week.

I can count at least two other times when a video of a cat misjudging a jump has gone viral. There must be something addictive about seeing a normally-agile animal act so clumsy, because this week we saw another:

He’ll be alright. Don’t worry about him. Cats are durable creatures. They can even survive being attacked by their own back legs:

When cats aren’t going viral by being funny or weird… they’re doing it by being adorable:

But cats don’t have a monopoly on the “cute” market. There are other animals that can make people smile as well. Like a baby raccoon in a bath tub:

Surely you’ve heard about the video of the penguin being tickled, right? If not, just know that it’s cute, and surprisingly loud:

Brands would be smart to continue trying to tap into this cute-animal market, the way the TPS Film Studio did a few months ago. The public’s hunger for this kind of thing is obviously insatiable, and there are so many tie-ins and brand connections that make perfect sense.

Good Deeds

Viral audiences also love to have their heartstrings tugged. They love to see a good deed. And a rock star playing a private gig in a fan’s garage is a pretty good deed, even if it is part of a contest. I remember reading about the Foo Fighters pledge to award one fan a personal show, but I forgot all about it until late last week, when video of the actual concert surfaced. Imagine being one of these kids, and your idol is performing right there, in your garage, in front of an AC/DC poster and your spare fridge:

In another heartwarming story this week, a group of Apple employees created a touching video for the It Gets Better campaign. It was originally pulled, but YouTube says it was an accident. It’s been reinstated, and has already started racking up the views again:

Sometimes a good deed is also something unbelievable… and also something hilarious… all rolled up in one. Like this clip featuring one of those horrible motorists that drive slow in the fast lane:

Favorites of the week:

Two videos impressed me more than all the rest this week, and it just so happens that they don’t really fit neatly into one of the above categories. The first is a short film from RadioLab called Symmetry, which invites the viewer to explore a series of juxtaposed images in order to “play with our yearning for balance, and reveal how beautiful imperfect matches can be.” It’s beyond impressive:

Honorable Mention

Too many great videos; not enough column space. Here are a few more I think you might enjoy:

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September 2018

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