In possibly the most ironic twist to viral videos, in less than 10 days a YouTube clip has received over 10 million views.
How Elusive is Viral?
In apparently her first upload to YouTube, Caitlin Heller posts a video entitled “Worst Twerk Fail EVER – Girl Catches Fire!“. It captures a girl twerking, an evocative dance move, and then midway accidentally falls on a table, smashes it and sets herself on fire.
The video abruptly ends with her yoga pants alight and screams of pain.
In just 7 days the video has over 10 million views, and at this rate will be over 11 million in the time it takes to publish this article.
Without any promotion, no previous following, a first time upload to YouTube the video has nigh on 20,000 comments, has been shown throughout major network news in the US, even Whoopi Goldberg spoke about it on The View.
An unknown girl, making a sexy video for her boyfriend, has now become an overnight celebrity for her apparent failure.
The Viral Twist
So where’s the irony? Where’s the twist?
Jimmy Kimmel, American talkshow host, explains in the video below:
This is potentially one of the greatest viral experiments in social media. A hoax, performed by a stunt woman, posted on YouTube and shazam, global attention and branding.
Dissecting the Success
So what is it that makes this video a success?
What allowed this to go viral?
Attracting the Influencers
In the age of Internet junkies, we’re all hoping to find content that engages a wider audience so we constantly trawl for new videos, articles, memes and other fodder to fill our pages with material that appeals to the masses.
This video contained a number of key elements that appeals to the masses, just look at the keywords in the title: “worst” “fail” “girl” “twerking”.
Then the description: “sexy twerk video” “hot”.
So the keywords are hot sexy girl twerking, connected with fail and worst.
Without any promotion, just those words were enough to attract the flow of influential content providers – those that grab other peoples content and serve it to their followers.
Now attracting the influencers is only the first step. Getting them to republish relies on engaging content.
Creating Engaging Content
I think if you’ve looked at the video it’s pretty easy to see what sold it … hot blonde girl, sexy dancing.
Though that wouldn’t go viral, it needed a twist.
Just a hot sexy blonde girl twerking would get plenty of hits, but it wouldn’t go viral. But with the twist, well now it appeals to a much broader audience – it become humorous.
Thus the addition of “fail” and “worst”.
You just have to search the word “fail” on YouTube to be presented with 1000’s of compilations and fail videos and you’ve just found one key to success on YouTube – words that the influencers constantly review for good content.
Still once they arrive, if what they watch doesn’t engage them immediately, and keep their attention, then viral will still elude.
Possibly the greatest twist to all this is Jimmy Kimmel’s post release video explaining how they did it (also now over 4 million views), and that the whole video was manufactured from the start.
Watching the Jimmy Kimmel video combined with the fail video provides the keys to online attention. It demonstrates the use of effective keywords, of engaging content and what sells to the mainstream.
Sure, it’s one thing to have the keys, it’s another to produce the content. The theory is always much easier than the practice.
Watch this space (well YouTube space) for a horde of these fake videos as advertisers clamour for their spin offs.
Like flash mobs that took brands viral just a few years ago and now seem old hat – how long before “fails” and “worst” become boring?