The 10 Laws Of Viral Video Success

This year we published a series of viral video laws, or truths that we discovered about viral videos and reasons that they go viral. We've compiled these laws into a list of 10.

This year we published a series of viral video laws, or truths that we discovered about viral videos and reasons that they go viral. These laws were inspired by different videos that were popular this year and so we thought it was only appropriate to gathered these laws into a single list to close out 2010 and get ready for the New Year. We’ve compiled our viral video laws into a list of 10, analyzing different viral themes, topics and more.

Viral Video Law #1: Use Pets

Okay, so it shouldn’t really be a surprise to anyone that pets are among the most viral subject matter on the web. From LOLcats to Upside Down Dogs, people just love funny and adorable videos of pets and they are itching to share them with their friends.

We were inspired to write about the viral video law of using pets after a video of a standing cat went viral back in April, but we’ve seen a huge number of other pet videos go viral in 2010, from dogs with hands to a kitten riding a turtle, a dancing Merengue dog and more. Of course, not just any boring old pet video can go viral. However, if you’ve got a pet video that is especially adorable or outstanding you may just have what it takes to go viral.

Viral Video Law #2: Remix Popular YouTube Videos

Just days after the above standing cat video went viral the cat came back with a Zorro hat, cape and sword and a guitar-playing sidekick in a remix from YouTube special effects guru Freddiew called ‘Real life PUSS IN BOOTS!’ The remix took of almost as fast as the original clip, and there have even been a number of cases in which a remix got more views than the original this year. The Gregory Brothers’ ‘I’m Not A Witch’ remix of Christine O’Donnell’s ‘I’m You’ political ad got a lot more views than the original, and their ‘Bed Intruder Song’ also got millions more views than the original Antoine Dodson clip.

Remixes are a great way to get views, especially when you remix a video that is currently going viral. When you remix a video it will usually appear in the search results when people are searching for the original, as well as in the recommendations for similar videos, which is a good way for your video to get discovered. If people like it they will share it with their friends, and you could be on the road to viral success!

Viral Video Law #3: Everyone Loves A FAILure

This law is derived from a combination of two of our viral video laws this year – Pain is Power and Everyone Loves An Idiot. Basically, for some reason people love to see others fail, whether they are falling and hurting themselves, making a fool out of themselves in public, or being embarrassed, belittled or hurt in some other way.

I wrote a post earlier this year on the Psychology of FAIL Videos, in which I tried to analyze why the online video audience loves these kinds of videos so much. It could have something to do with the element of surprise, the element of shock or disbelief, or we may just all be A-holes that feel better about ourselves when we see others fail. But in any case, the millions of views on videos from popular YouTube channels like FAILblog prove that we enjoy FAIL videos like no other.

Check out our compilation of the best Epic FAIL videos on YouTube below. Why do you think seeing other people fail or look like idiots makes us want to watch?

Viral Video Law #4: Bloopers Are Golden

Nothing goes viral like a really good news blooper. The problem is, you can’t really plan out a blooper, so if you are trying to come up with an idea for a viral video this one won’t really work out for you. But that doesn’t mean they don’t make for fantastic viral material.

The great thing about bloopers is that they are unplanned and they generally are aired on live television, which can be really embarrassing for the network that airs them. We put together a compilation of the best news bloopers on YouTube. Check it out below.

Viral Video Law #5: The Weirder The Better

Our fifth viral video law of 2010 is, The Weirder The Better. This law states that viewers love the “WTF?” factor. In other words, if they click play to watch a video and their first reaction is to scrunch their eyebrows, cock their head to one side and ask, “WTF?” then they will definitely want to share it with their friends. Why? Because weird is awesome.

This law was inspired by Charles Trippy’s music video, ‘Dog Squirrel Chasing A Squirrel’. However, there are a number of other WTF videos that also prove this point including ‘Potter Puppet Pals’, ‘An Experiment’, and ‘Charlie the Unicorn’. Why have these videos been viewed so many times, if not because they are just totally weird? Case closed!

Viral Video Law #6: Pop Parodies Prevail

Our next viral video law of 2010 is, Pop Parodies Prevail. This year seems to be the year of pop song parodies. Lady Gaga was parodied up the wazoo and if you do a YouTube search for virtually any song that was popular this year you are bound to find at least one parody version. The second most popular YouTube video of this year was a parody of Kesha’s Tik Tok.

Of course, keep in mind that not every pop song parody will go viral. But if you are one of the first to release a parody of a song and it’s got great lyrics, a great performance and is put together professionally then you may have a shot!

Viral Video Law #7: You Gotta See This To Believe It

This law is derived from a combination of two of our viral video laws this year – You Just Can’t Make This Stuff Up and Viewers Expect The Unexpected, And Go Crazy For It! Basically, with the advent of the Internet viewers have pretty much seen it all. Therefore, if you can upload a video of something that is super surprising an unexpected and that viewers haven’t seen before they will definitely want to share it.

For instance, how often do you see a skateboarding priest or dwarf running into a bookstore to do some guerilla self-promotion in the store’s window display? These are things you just gotta see to believe!

Viral Video Law #8: Viewers Love To Love Love

A combination of two of our viral video laws – Love Is In The Air and Spread The Love – this law is sort of the polar opposite of Everyone Loves A FAILure. This law states that content that makes us smile because it shows people spreading love for each other and for mankind. If a video makes you feel good, like you are just surrounded by love, then you’ll want to share it with other people to make them feel good as well.

Proposal videos seemed to be a big trend in 2010. We saw all sorts of proposal videos go viral this year including a graduation proposal, MysteryGuitarMan’s proposal, a Madison Square Park proposal (below), and even one proposal video that turned out to be a hoax.

Viral Video Law #9: Bieber Fever

One of the most viral video topics this year was Justin Bieber, so much so that Bieber Fever became its own viral video law. People love to love Justin Bieber, and they love to hate him as well, which is what makes him so popular on YouTube. Just as many people love to watch his music videos with a sparkle in their eyes as like to watch him get pegged with a water bottle or smash his head on a door.

We decided to put the Bieber Fever law to the test so we created a Justin Bieber video of our own earlier this year starring dogs dancing to the pop sensation. We’ve gotten over 17,000 views which is not to shabby considering that we only promoted it in a single post on Social Times. Most of the views came from Bieber fans (and foes) on YouTube.

Viral Video Law #10: Inspiration Can Be Viral Too

Finally, over the summer we posted about a viral video law that states that Inspiration Can Be Viral Too. This law was inspired by a great poetic video called ‘How To Be Alone’, which is artistic and beautiful and has been viewed over 2.3 million times.

The purpose of this viral video law is to keep creators from pigeon-holing themselves by thinking that they have to create a ridiculously shallow pop-culture-inspired, pants-splittingly hilarious FAIL video in order to get a lot of views. Something beautiful, meaningful and deep can get a lot of views as well.

Do you have any viral video laws of your own or ideas about how and why certain videos go viral while others don’t? Feel free to share your ideas with us in the comments!