The Viral Video Phenomenon. What makes videos go viral?


By Katja Grasberger

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Seminar paper from the year 2014 in the subject Communications - Multimedia, Internet, New Technologies, grade: 2,0, University of Bonn (Anglistik), course: Digital Cultures, language: English, abstract: It will probably shock you that the original version of "Gangnam Style" by the Korean singer PSY (standing for psycho) is the most watched video on YouTube of all time counting over 800 million views since it has been uploaded in 2010. What it features is a song that will stick to your head, and dance moves everyone will try to imitate - it had what it took to go "viral", to spread around the world like a sickness. This phenomena is not bound to one specific video genre, in this case a music video, but can be found in other genres as well, for example in comics, animal or amateur videos. Everyone can become famous on the internet by the day after tomorrow if his or her video got what it takes to become viral. But what does it take? A lot of viral videos do not feature informative content that helps us in any way or is important for our lives, nor does the content make any sense at all sometimes. It even appears that the videos with no content are even more popular. Although there are many viral videos of very different genres, they all share to some degree certain qualities, however can their success in the digital Internet age not be boiled down to a simple set of rules, neither can it be predicted, because these qualities are only features that can help as it has also a lot to do with luck and timing. By looking at the videos "Charlie bit my finger - again!", "The Sneezing Baby Panda" and "Dramatic Chipmunk", "David After Dentist" we will see that although they are very different and feature different content they have qualities that are similar and that some have qualities that the others will not have, demonstrating that there are no general or universal rules one can use and then have viral success.
The Viral Video Phenomenon. What makes videos go viral?