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What we can learn from viral videos

How do you get heard?  How do you make sure that what you say has staying power and gets cascaded though out your circle or organization?

I recently watched Kevin Allocca’s TED talk.  Kevin is YouTube’s trends watch manager and his talk was an interesting look at what makes a video go viral.  He shared that the three key elements that influence whether or not a video goes viral are:

  • Tastemakers
  • Communities of Participation
  • Unexpectedness

In essence “tastemakers” are well known individuals (celebrities, politicians, authors, etc.) who draw attention to a particular video – by tweeting about it, featuring it on their television show and through other similar vehicles.  So, it helps if Jimmy Kimmel, for instance, brings it to our attention.

Communities of participation involve individuals who then take the video and send it out to their communities or re-interpret the video in a playful or meaningful ways.  It becomes an inside joke or shared message.

Finally, “unexpectedness” is just what you’d think – the video contains content that is unexpectedly thought-provoking, funny, strange or poignant in some way.

While Kevin’s talk focused on how videos go viral, I think he also had some important things to say about communication in general.  He stated that in today’s world, “we don’t just enjoy, we participate.”  We need to communicate in a way that invites conversation and participation.

If you’ve got an important message or idea to communicate, consider using Kevin’s viral video principles to your advantage.