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Why do videos go viral?

You may not be too surprised to hear that two days worth of videos are uploaded to the Internet every minute. You also may be able to predict that it is only a tiny fraction of these videos that make it viral.

Kevin Alloca works for YouTube trends as a writer and analyst, tracking the latest viral videos. In short he watches YouTube for a living and in his own words has ‘a pretty unusual job’.

As you can imagine, Kevin knows the difference between a video that will go viral and one that is not so likely too…

He proposes three reasons as to how this happens:


  • Tastemakers

Tastemakers are influential people that introduce us to new and interesting things whilst presenting them to a larger audience.  Celebrities who discover videos and share them via social networks such as Twitter are introducing their thousands of followers to the video as well. This is usually the trigger that sends the video viral.


  • Community participation

The current social media channels transform us into an active audience. We can respond to the media with our own content. We don’t just enjoy – we participate. Examples of this are found on YouTube, parodies and responses to videos contribute to their viral success.


  • Unexpectedness

Here, Kevin emphasises how the audience defines popularity. When Howard Davies-Carr filmed his two sons Harry and Charlie in what was his attempt to capture them growing up, who was to know the 56-second clip would turn into the internet sensation that is “Charlie bit my finger”. Unexpectedness is a characteristic of a new kind of media in a new kind of culture where everyone has access.

Do you agree with his analysis, what do you think gives a video viral capabilities?

I recommend watching Kevin’s insightful talk on why videos go viral, and it will only take seven minutes of your day!

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