How to make a viral video in 5 easy steps (and then win $1000)

[See contest to make $1000 at the end of this post.]

I feel like the concept of a “viral video” has died and gone to corporate purgatory. I don’t really see people gather around youtube looking at the best examples of creativity. Its all now, “How quickly can Pepsi make a video that 20mm people watch”. Maybe I’m an old man or something but its almost no fun watching youtube anymore. Too much garbage. No curation.

Two things make a video viral:
A) the video itself gets lots of views as it passed around via word of mouth, emails, etc.
B) the video generates lots of spinoff videos, i.e. videos that make fun of the initial video, tweak it in some creative way, move it forward creatively, etc. The idea itself becomes viral and not just the video.

A great example stems from Chris Bliss’s video where he’s juggling to a Beatles song. The song is “Golden Slumbers/Carry that Weight/The End” which is the last song on their last album (known for its last lyric “the love you take is equal to the love you make”. The video first popped up in 2006 and within 40 days had 20,000,000 views.

[Tip #1 to making a viral video: piggyback off of an idea that has already withstood the test of time, for instance the Beatles song in this video. As well as the fact that good juggling is always entertaining].

Apparently when the video came out it caused quite a stir among jugglers who weren’t impressed by Bliss’s use of just three balls and no fancy technical tricks. So, for instance, there’s this “Chris Bliss Diss” video by juggler Jason Garfield which uses five balls and a variety of tricks.

[Tip #2: Take a prior viral video (which contains tip #1 and then went viral) and directly challenge it].

This video also immediately went viral, racking up a few million views. I appreciate the technical virtuousity but I prefer (slightly) the Chris Bliss video only because he makes it more like a dance rather than just a technical feat. I like how his hands move throughout the song. Its like romance versus pornography. One thing I like in the Diss video is that he directly lifts the song from the Bliss video so you get all the audience reaction, which is funny considering Garfinkel is in an empty gym.

Interesting to note that Garfield is also quite possibly a better juggling trainer than performer. He trained the Galchenko siblings, perhaps the best jugglers inthe world. Here’s a video of nine year old Vova Galchenko (note also his sister doing cartwheels). The video was originally shot in 1997 and Vova didn’t begin training with Garfield until 2004.

[Tip #3: Take a kid with an amazing talent, throw in a great song, and you get a viral video].
[Tip #4: Train the above kid, do a new video with him each year to see him grow].

Now here’s a video of Vova and sister, Olga, 10 years later. I like Olga’s quote, “we are genetically engineered to be the best jugglers in the world.”

So to bring it full circle, rapper Fatboy Slim then challenged the internet to do a juggling video “like that chris bliss one” to his song “that old pair of jeans”. Here’s the Vova Galchenko version:

[Tip #5: Make a great song, then crowdsource a contest to make the best video. If enough people respond, at least one of the videos should go viral. Particularly if the above tips work.]

And here’s another example of the Fatboy Slim contest. Only this time its a very talented hula hooper:

So lets see if this works.

[Note: I'm not selling anything, promoting anything, etc. I sincerely want to give $1000 to someone who can make me a new favorite video.]

Here’s the contest:
A) Take any popular song.
B) Take any talent
C) Or take any other viral video and tweak the ideas.
D) Use any or all of the tips above.

Make a cool video and put it on youtube. Submit the video (via a link in the comments below. If you see this post anywhere else then go to http://jamesaltucher.com/ find this post, and submit the link in the comments below) by February 1. I’ll give $1000 to the best video. Throw in the links to your videos in the comments section of this post. I’ll use other comments to help me decide the winner. I reserve the right to have no winner if none of the videos get more than 100,000 views within a month of the contest ending. But if a video has less than 100,000 views and is clearly excellent (and other commenters love it) then we’ll have a winner.

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