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Stop trying to make the perfect viral video, just jump on someone else’s bandwagon

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‘We want this to go viral!’

It’s a sentence that anyone that has spent time in internet marketing has heard 1,000 times. Mostly, it’s from an advertiser that doesn’t realize the cold, hard truth. It’s damn near impossible to purposely create something and make it go viral.

Sure, you can add all the elements that the internet lusts for, such as:
- Cats
- Kids
- Boobs
- Celebrities
- Getting hit in the groin

You can ‘seed it on Twitter.’
You can ‘post it on Facebook.’
You can ‘distribute it on YouTube.’
You can ‘submit it to Digg and reddit.’

But in the end, it seems the harder you try to make something go viral, the less likely that is to happen. Go ahead, throw MORE money at your viral project. That will even doom it MORE.

Which means the flip side, is that you never know when something is going to capture the imagination of the world wide web. You’re at their mercy.

What’s a smart marketer to do?

Here is a summary of what I talk about in the podcast:

It’s a lot like surfing. Forget about creating a wave, just put yourself in the position so that you’re ready when the perfect wave does come along, and then ride as far as you can until the next one shows up.

Here are the four steps to ride the viral video wave:
Recognize, Hypothesize, Capitalize, Monetize

1) Recognize
In order to ride that wave, you need to be in the right water. Sitting in a pond in Aiken County, South Carolina isn’t going to cut it. You have to head to California or Hawaii to be where the waves are.

In internet speak, some of the places where I find viral content is:
- Reddit
- Digg
- Youtube
- Twitter
- Wired
- Mashable
- Facebook
- Email

Although lets face it, if you wait until someone sends YOU something via email, it’s probably too late.

Next, you’ve got to know it when you see it.
A small list of recent internet meme examples are:
- I’m on a boat
- Epic beard man
- Kanye interrupts Taylor Swift
- Balloon boy
- Rick Roll
- Double Rainbow
- Keanu Reeves sitting on a bench
- Old Spice guy

2) Hypothesize
You can do
1. Parody video
Musicians build audience
Hitler redub

2. Photoshop
Keanu with Forrest Gump

Bonus: Combine 2 memes
Example: Balloon boy with Kanye

3) Capitalize
Check out this amazing rendition of someone that combined “I’m on a boat” meme with the “I’m in a box” balloon boy.

- Another angle is to focus on a single word or sentence from the meme and exploit that as much as possible. For example, “Amber Lamps” / Black betty from the Epic Bear Man meme:

4) Monetize

Doesn’t have to be money; can be branding
- Build your twitter or facebook list

What do you do? How do you normally make money?
- If designer, let people know how to hire you
- If musician, have your band’s website and mailing list
- If writer, it drives people to your blog
- If major website, get traffic

- YouTube – allow people to buy the song
- Create a quick tshirt store

Example 1: JK Wedding video

- 3.5 million views in first 48 hours
- Chris Brown capitalizes… his 2008 song “Forever” reached number 4 on iTunes and number 3 on Amazon.com a year later as a result of the post.
- The couple capitalizes… Today show appearance, 15 minutes of fame, $16,000 fund to end domestic violence

Example 2: Old Spice guy

Mike Relm remix
- Worked until 7AM – all nighter – to get done
- 300,000 views
- Good social media: ask fans what to remix next
- Subscribe to his channel
- You need a DJ or someone to remix something? He’s your man

BYU spoof
- 10 film students and 2 full time employees spent a month on a 54 second remix
- About the BYU library?
- Film project

Example 3: Bed Intruder

Starts off with a scary topic. News report that an intruder came in through a window and broke into a woman’s apartment in the projects and tried to rape her. She managed to fight him off, then her brother came in and defended her.

This was the top story on reddit, and for the first 30 seconds, I couldn’t figure out why. Then Antoine Dodson started to talk. It would be easy to say, oh, this is just a poor African-American from the projects in Alabama, he’s going talk in ebonics and say something stupid we can all laugh at. But it was more than that. He was animated, passionate, and dare I say, funny?

Original video:

The comments on the reddit post were great, and then someone said the immortal words, ‘Someone should AutoTune this.’

Acting fast, the kings of Auto-Tune, The Gregory Brothers, produced not just one of the best parody videos of all time, but I honestly can say one of the best produced and catchiest songs I’ve heard since Justin Timberlake’s ‘Blank in a box.’

Go ahead and make fun of me, but I have that song on my iPod (if you replaced the lyrics with anything else, it still be a great song), and jumping right to the monetize portion, I also bought the ‘Bed Intruder’ Auto-Tune song from iTunes for $1.29.

The Gregory Brothers hit a grand slam
- They acted fast, turning around the video in hours
- They produced something that was incredibly high quality
- They persistently, but no obnoxiously, inserted links to the original video, their YouTube page, and links to buy, updating it frequently as things changed
- They monetized through iTunes
- 2.5 million views and accounting

But I shouldn’t be surprised. I interviewed The Gregory Brothers on The Hopkinson Report Episode 80, and they were funny, talented, and super smart.

Here is the video.  Wait until you hear the piano solo at the end.

But then something even greater happened. Everyone ELSE got on the wave.

Aspiring musicians around the world gave their rendition of the song. I collected the best ones for you. I present you:

The Best Antoine Dodson / Bed Intruder / Gregory Brothers Parody Videos

1 acoustic blues

2 backup vocal remix

3 funky acoustic

4 young girl a capella

5 rocker dude acoustic

6 beatbox

7 accordion

8 rocker dude lipsync

What did I do with them? I posted the list on reddit.

You know, in hopes that my link would go viral… (no such luck so far)

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