Luck or a science?

In class we discussed the reasons why things spread by looking at an article by Maria Konnikova. She suggests that they spread due to emotions, social currency, arousal, memories, practical value and story quality. This might work for some things but what about YouTube? 48 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. You got that right! TWO days of video every minute! Okay maybe that isn’t super surprising but still that’s a hell of a lot of videos. Bo Burnham, the comedian and musician for Massachusetts, didn’t get famous from performing late night at comedy clubs or open mic nights. But how? It was all because he posted his comedic songs on YouTube and they gained popularity. Was it luck? Maybe. 

In his TED Talk, Kevin Allocca from YouTube has a few why the famous videos “go viral”. A video that catches a “tastemaker’s attention, lends itself to remixing and unexpectedness will get you view after view. A company called Mekanism told Forbes that they have cracked the science behind  “going viral” and it is not just shear luck. First off you need to grab the attention of your viewers. “Nothing happens until attention is captured.” Next it’s all about planning. What YouTube category that matches your video will make it easy to view your way up to the front page? What do you do after your launch plan? Well guess what, you have another plan so that you keep your popularity.

There may be many different ways and techniques to go viral and become famous but there is one thing. Is it really something you can formulate? Is it luck? What about Yosemitebear and his double rainbow? He sure didn’t plan on his millions of views.

Above is the original video that has over 42 million views and it was also shown on the comedy show Tosh.0.


8 thoughts on “Luck or a science?

  1. Good points and interesting links/videos! A thing to work on would be your grammar and punctuation. Occasionally, this will take your readers attention away from your point of interest and direct it towards your mistakes. For example, “She suggests that spread due to emotions, social currency, arousal, memories, practical value and story quality.” This is an incomplete thought that I am assuming you finished in your head and not online. A way to fix this would be to make sure you reread your post after you write it just to make sure this doesn’t happen and it flows properly. Overall, you did create a good piece! Maybe go into depth a little more on your Bo Burnham example with a video or more writing, but great! I love Bo Burnham! This is a great example! Keep up the good work!


  2. I definitely agree with you that there is a science behind something going viral. Some people may stumble upon it by accident as was the case with Yosemitebear and his double rainbow. He wasn’t up late at night thinking about how he was going to make a viral video; it just kind of happened. The emotional response people get when they see a true double rainbow is definitely part of the reason it went viral, but another part was his reaction of awe to the beauty his eyes saw! It just goes to show that anyone can make a viral video, sometimes by accident and sometimes with intent!


  3. I think that the key to getting something to go viral is more luck than science. I think that there are definitely things that we can do to make things more likely to go viral. However, with the sheer amount of people that it takes for something to go viral I think that it is still mostly luck that causes things to go viral. Who know, one day a formula might be found, but if this is the case then nothing will be viral anymore because everything will follow the formula. So, even if a formula is found, the formula won’t be something that lasts very long.


  4. I think it’s more of strategic luck that gets videos to go viral. The right people have to find your specific video among the millions of others thrown at YouTube everyday. Chances are me sharing a video I discover in the depths of the YouTube won’t go viral, but a popular blogger or site host that shows a video has a better chance of getting the video to spread.


  5. I agree with your points. Grabbing a reader’s attention, to me, relates to emotion in the sense that like a video about kittens grab’s attention through strong emotion, in it’s case, happiness. I also think that practical value leads to viral content. People’s desire to share something to friends and feel smart and useful leads to a hot trend. I know I’m like that in a sports sense on Twitter. I always want to tell them the latest breaking news in the sports world.


  6. I think for something to become a viral hit, you need a good combination of both luck and the science behind viral media. There are a lot of viral media that became viral hits by accident. Anyone remember the sneezing baby panda bear or the intense stare of the gerbil (or whatever that rodent was)? But there are also Youtubers that have down a good formula that have given them success. For example, Pewdiepie has basically used the same material for each video, yet he is one of the richest Youtubers today. Whatever the reason is, each viral media hit tends to have many of the six things that make media go viral.


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