Back in June we released a goofy video of dogs dancing to Justin Bieber as part of a project we called ‘Will It Stick.’ We threw a bunch of elements together that people seem to love – Justin Bieber, cute dogs, dancing dogs – and waited to see if it would go viral. The video received just over 3,000 views in the first three months, which can hardly be called “viral”, but suddenly, at the beginning of this month we saw a massive spike in viewership and the video now has just over 6,500 views. Surprisingly enough, we’ve got another viral video to thank for this growth – the Dancing Merengue Dog!
A few days ago my brother and founder of Social Times, Nick O’Neill, sent me a message on Skype that said, “Do you know your Justin Bieber video has over 4,600 views?” This surprised me, as I had checked the video just a couple of days before and it was still stuck around the 3,000 mark. We both assumed that the reason for the views was, of course, because YouTubers love Justin Bieber. But when I went to my video page to check out the statistics I saw a surprising new development – the analytics told me that on August 29 the video had it’s “First referral from related video – Dancing Merengue Dog.” When I went to the Dancing Merengue Dog video on YouTube I saw that, sure enough, our video was showing up under the “Suggestions” on the side bar.
In the last three days, since Nick and I discovered the spike in traffic to our ‘Bieber Fever! Dogs Love Justin Bieber‘ clip we have received a whopping 2,000 views, in addition to the initial 1,000 plus that we received before we knew that it was being shared as a suggested video on the Dancing Merengue Dog clip. According to the view analytics, we have received 1,983 views so far from YouTubers referred directly to our clip from the Dancing Merengue Dog viral. I would chock up the other views to viewers who decided to share the clip with friends after discovering it.
I can’t say for sure how YouTube decides which videos will be listed in the “Suggestions” lists for particular videos. However, I assume that a lot of it has to do with video tags and descriptions. The only tags that our video shares with the Dancing Merengue Dog are the words “dog” and “dancing”, and in our description we credit a video that we used in our clip called ‘Merengue Dancing Dogs’, which also appears in the Suggestions sidebar.
What can be gleaned from this experience is that creators uploading videos to YouTube should never underestimate the power of tags and descriptions. Of course, it’s sheer luck of the draw that our video happened to share important keywords with a video that went viral with over 3 million views, but if you don’t put enough thought into your titles, keywords and descriptions you could miss out on having a similar experience to ours.
I have to admit that I was rather bummed out that our ‘Will It Stick’ viral video attempt only got 3,000 views in the first three months, but our experience with the Dancing Merengue Dog has been inspirational to me. Even if our video doesn’t get thousands more views or become the next viral hit, each video that we upload gives us more experience in the viral video world. In the coming months, we hope to experiment more with YouTube to find out how you can maximize your success through titling and tagging, experimenting with different video lengths and more and can’t wait to share our findings with you!
Have you experienced any spikes in viewership on YouTube because of other people’s video successes? Do you have any suggestions, or tricks of the trade to increase your YouTube views? Feel free to share them in the comments!