07:21
TEDYouth 2011

Kevin Allocca: Why videos go viral

Filmed:

Kevin Allocca is YouTube's trends manager, and he has deep thoughts about silly web video. In this talk from TEDYouth, he shares the 4 reasons a video goes viral.

- YouTube trends manager
Kevin Allocca watches YouTube videos. For his job. Full bio

Hi. I'm Kevin Allocca, I'm the trends manager at YouTube,
00:15
and I professionally watch YouTube videos.
00:18
It's true.
00:20
So we're going to talk a little bit today about how videos go viral
00:22
and then why that even matters.
00:25
We all want to be stars --
00:27
celebrities, singers, comedians --
00:29
and when I was younger, that seemed so very, very hard to do.
00:32
But now Web video has made it
00:35
so that any of us or any of the creative things that we do
00:37
can become completely famous
00:39
in a part of our world's culture.
00:41
Any one of you could be famous on the Internet
00:43
by next Saturday.
00:45
But there are over 48 hours of video uploaded to YouTube
00:47
every minute.
00:49
And of that, only a tiny percentage
00:51
ever goes viral and gets tons of views and becomes a cultural moment.
00:53
So how does it happen?
00:56
Three things:
00:58
tastemakers, communities of participation
01:00
and unexpectedness.
01:02
All right, let's go.
01:04
(Video) Bear Vasquez: Oh, my God. Oh, my God.
01:06
Oh, my God!
01:10
Wooo!
01:13
Ohhhhh, wowwww!
01:15
KA: Last year, Bear Vasquez posted this video
01:20
that he had shot outside his home in Yosemite National Park.
01:22
In 2010, it was viewed 23 million times.
01:25
(Laughter)
01:28
This is a chart of what it looked like
01:30
when it first became popular last summer.
01:32
But he didn't actually set out to make a viral video, Bear.
01:35
He just wanted to share a rainbow.
01:38
Because that's what you do when your name is Yosemite Mountain Bear.
01:40
(Laughter)
01:42
And he had posted lots of nature videos in fact.
01:44
And this video had actually been posted
01:47
all the way back in January.
01:49
So what happened here?
01:52
Jimmy Kimmel actually.
01:54
Jimmy Kimmel posted this tweet
01:56
that would eventually propel the video to be as popular as it would become.
01:58
Because tastemakers like Jimmy Kimmel
02:01
introduce us to new and interesting things
02:04
and bring them to a larger audience.
02:06
(Video) Rebecca Black: ♫ It's Friday, Friday. Gotta get down on Friday. ♫
02:08
♫ Everybody's looking forward to the weekend, weekend. ♫
02:12
♫ Friday, Friday. Gettin' down on Friday. ♫
02:17
KA: So you didn't think that we could actually have this conversation
02:21
without talking about this video I hope.
02:24
Rebecca Black's "Friday" is one of the most popular videos of the year.
02:26
It's been seen nearly 200 million times this year.
02:29
This is a chart of what it looked like.
02:32
And similar to "Double Rainbow,"
02:34
it seems to have just sprouted up out of nowhere.
02:36
So what happened on this day?
02:40
Well it was a Friday, this is true.
02:42
And if you're wondering about those other spikes, those are also Fridays.
02:45
(Laughter)
02:48
But what about this day,
02:53
this one particular Friday?
02:55
Well Tosh.0 picked it up, a lot of blogs starting writing about.
02:57
Michael J. Nelson from Mystery Science Theater
03:00
was one of the first people to post a joke about the video on Twitter.
03:02
But what's important is that an individual or a group of tastemakers
03:06
took a point of view
03:08
and they shared that with a larger audience, accelerating the process.
03:10
And so then this community formed
03:13
of people who shared this big inside joke
03:15
and they started talking about it and doing things with it.
03:17
And now there are 10,000 parodies of "Friday" on YouTube.
03:20
Even in the first seven days,
03:23
there was one parody for every other day of the week.
03:25
(Laughter)
03:28
Unlike the one-way entertainment of the 20th century,
03:32
this community participation
03:35
is how we become a part of the phenomenon --
03:37
either by spreading it or by doing something new with it.
03:39
(Music)
03:42
So "Nyan Cat" is a looped animation
03:51
with looped music.
03:54
It's this, just like this.
03:56
It's been viewed nearly 50 million times this year.
03:58
And if you think that that is weird,
04:02
you should know that there is a three-hour version of this
04:04
that's been viewed four million times.
04:06
(Laughter)
04:08
Even cats were watching this video.
04:11
(Laughter)
04:13
Cats were watching other cats watch this video.
04:17
(Laughter)
04:21
But what's important here
04:29
is the creativity that it inspired
04:32
amongst this techie, geeky Internet culture.
04:34
There were remixes.
04:37
(Laughter)
04:39
Someone made an old timey version.
04:41
(Laughter)
04:44
And then it went international.
04:46
(Laughter)
04:49
An entire remix community sprouted up
05:03
that brought it from being just a stupid joke
05:06
to something that we can all actually be a part of.
05:09
Because we don't just enjoy now,
05:11
we participate.
05:13
And who could have predicted any of this?
05:18
Who could have predicted "Double Rainbow" or Rebecca Black
05:20
or "Nyan Cat?"
05:22
What scripts could you have written
05:24
that would have contained this in it?
05:26
In a world where over two days of video
05:29
get uploaded every minute,
05:31
only that which is truly unique and unexpected
05:33
can stand out in the way that these things have.
05:35
When a friend of mine told me that I needed to see this great video
05:38
about a guy protesting bicycle fines in New York City,
05:41
I admit I wasn't very interested.
05:44
(Video) Casey Niestat: So I got a ticket for not riding in the bike lane,
05:46
but often there are obstructions
05:49
that keep you from properly riding in the bike lane.
05:51
(Laughter)
05:54
KA: By being totally surprising and humorous,
06:08
Casey Niestat got his funny idea and point
06:10
seen five million times.
06:14
And so this approach holds
06:16
for anything new that we do creatively.
06:18
And so it all brings us
06:20
to one big question ...
06:22
(Video) Bear Vasquez: What does this mean?
06:24
Ohhhh.
06:27
(Laughter)
06:29
KA: What does it mean?
06:32
Tastemakers, creative participating communities,
06:35
complete unexpectedness,
06:38
these are characteristics of a new kind of media and a new kind of culture
06:40
where anyone has access
06:43
and the audience defines the popularity.
06:45
I mean, as mentioned earlier,
06:47
one of the biggest stars in the world right now, Justin Bieber,
06:49
got his start on YouTube.
06:51
No one has to green-light your idea.
06:53
And we all now feel some ownership
06:56
in our own pop culture.
06:58
And these are not characteristics of old media,
07:00
and they're barely true of the media of today,
07:02
but they will define the entertainment of the future.
07:05
Thank you.
07:07
(Applause)
07:09

▲Back to top

About the Speaker:

Kevin Allocca - YouTube trends manager
Kevin Allocca watches YouTube videos. For his job.

Why you should listen

Writer and analyst Kevin Allocca works with YouTube Trends, a spot for tracking the latest viral videos -- and connecting to the communities that make the parodies, tributes and reply videos that circle the giant viral planets of the YouTube-iverse.

More profile about the speaker
Kevin Allocca | Speaker | TED.com