The concept of “going viral” may just be the Internet phenomenon of the century. Video has become one of the most popular social media outlets thanks to sites like YouTube, which reports an average of 400 tweets per minute (each tweet containing a link from YouTube) and more than 150 years worth of its videos watched on Facebook every single day (Mashable).
Over the last few years, the concept of viral has become synonymous with videos that have been shared among millions of people in a short period of time. When the concept first emerged, it would often take a couple of months before a video would snag the coveted “V” label, but as more and more people embraced social media, particularly sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Vimeo, videos would often go viral in a week, a few days and now even in a 24-hour period.
This phenomenon gave the average person an opportunity to become a short-lived celebrity over night. What started as a place where proud parents, rambunctious adolescents and the occasional pervert could share funny videos, quickly became a platform for both people and companies that craved national (and sometimes international) attention. Many people became obsessed with the idea of “going viral” and as a result, the world of video is ever changing.
PBS Off Book just released its latest episode “The Worlds of Viral Video,” which explores the possibilities of what makes a video go viral. The producers created the episode in an attempt to analyze the underlying factors that spark a connection between a video and the millions of people who share it:
Viral Video is the signature phenomenon of internet media. Something akin to pop songs, these videos with irresistible hooks have saturated video culture online and have now evolved into a multitude of sophisticated forms. Whether rooted in comedy, spectacle, schadenfreude, cuteness, politics, performance, or deep meaning, the idea of viral videos, and the huge audiences they generate, have forever changed the values and potential impact of video online.
To find out more about what the experts had to say, check out the full episode of The Worlds of Viral Video by PBS Off Book: