Witnessing The Birth of a Viral Video

I’ll try to keep this short, but you should first do yourself a favor and watch this video if you haven’t already.

I’ve followed this pretty closely the past two days.  The story itself isn’t that interesting, but it’s obviously the reaction of the brother in the video that’s hilarious and has caused this video to go viral.  I first saw this story published by a friend on Facebook on Wednesday night shortly after it aired on the (trashy) local news and knew immediately that it had all the right ingredients to get insanely popular.  I’d noticed already that it had been spread a little over Twitter and Facebook, but it hadn’t really yet gotten the kind of traction it needed to go widespread.  I did my part to spread it around that night and reminded myself to check into it the next day.

Thursday morning, I took another look at the video to see how many views it had gotten so far.  Only 311.  But I’d noticed that it had over 400 comments, indicating that YouTube hadn’t yet tallied the numbers correctly.  In the meantime, it seemed as if every other update on my Facebook feed was about this.  Which helped, but it was mainly from people in the North Alabama area in which the story had originated.  It hadn’t yet gone mainstream.  AL.com published the story to the front page of their site, which helped a ton.  However, I was told by one of their writers that the Huntsville Times wasn’t comfortable with the story and asked them to remove it.  But by the time it was gone, it was too late.

Thursday afternoon, the video count finally refreshed and showed around 4,000 views.  Not a bad count for a day’s worth, but the comments were really starting to pile in.  It had over a dozen comments within five minutes, which goes to tell you that the YouTube view count still wasn’t able to keep up.  Also around this time, a Google search of the guy’s name showed that a ton of blogs started to pick up the video, even on small corners of VH1 and Comedy Central.  Now that it had gotten outside of the North Alabama social sphere, it was really catching on.

Fast Forward to this morning, and see where the video stands now..

It’s now the top video of the day on YouTube, both on the “popular” and “most viewed” tabs.  This happened within 24 hours, and without the help of the typical viral kingmakers such as Digg or Reddit.  I had submitted the video to Digg, but it didn’t really catch on there for whatever reason.  If it ever does, stand back.  Also, it’s more than possible that more mainstream mediums that cover this beat such as Tosh.0 might pick this up.  Then it gets nuts.

I’ve really become interested in web marketing over the past year or two, which is why this fascinates me so much.  There was a lot to take away from this in terms of what makes a viral video and how it becomes popular.  The thing I learned the most from it is that a video isn’t necessarily popular as long as it is only passed around on Twitter and Facebook.  There’s a big boundary in terms of getting it seen on a more traditional and mainstream level before that can happen.

Plus, having a hell of a character sprouting hilarious lines right into the camera doesn’t hurt either.  HOMEBOY.

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