Kevin Allocca, trends manager at YouTube (He watches the site’s videos for a living), gave a TED talk yesterday about what makes a video go viral.
He broke it down to three characteristics: being accelerated by tastemakers, forming a community of participation, and having unexpectedness.
Mega-hit videos like “Double Rainbow” and “Friday” didn’t find stardom when they were posted. They sat on YouTube in relative obscurity until a tastemaker started a conversation around the video. Influential individuals take a point of view, share it, and accelerate it to popularity. This popularity fosters a community around the concept who then create their own spin-offs (e.g. the many different versions of Nyan Cat). Participation enables users to become part of the phenomenon.
But many things won’t get noticed. “In a world where over two days of video get uploaded every minute, only that which is truly unique and unexpected can stand out,” said Allocca.
The Canadian boysation Justin Bieber got started on YouTube. Because nobody has to green light your ideas, the audience takes over and defines what is popular.
After all Yosemite Mountain Bear didn’t intend to make a viral video, he just wanted to share a rainbow.