Over 48 hours of video gets uploaded to YouTube every minute. How can one single video suddenly reach millions of views within a few days? It all boils down to three factors: tastemakers, communities of participation, and unexpectedness.
Tastemakers are individuals on the web or in the celebrity spotlight who have a large public following. These figures can use social media to bring a video to the public eye. One such video is “Double Rainbow,” which features a man completely awed by the sight of a double rainbow.
Although it has nearly 36 million views today, the video didn’t immediately rise to fame. In fact, it maintained close to zero views for the first seven months it sat on YouTube. So what happened at the spike shown in the graph below? Jimmy Kimmel. He somehow found the video and tweeted it out to his 1.9 million followers on Twitter.
Communities and Participation
“Gangnam Style,” the music video by the Korean musician Psy, recently reached 850 million views and became the most viewed YouTube video of all time. As the video became popular, people all around the world created their own versions. Currently, there are thousands of parodies of the video online, including CollegeHumor’s “Mitt Romney Style.”
This interaction and participation allows the public to become a part of the phenomenon, which brings more attention to the original video.
In a TED Talk about viral YouTube videos, Kevin Allocca, the trends manager at YouTube, said, “In a world where over two days of video get uploaded every minute, only that which is truly unique and unexpected can truly stand out.” Who would have predicted that this would have reached almost 89 million views?
Famous YouTube videos with millions of views earn their owners thousands of dollars each year. Although you might not expect it, being the laughing stock of America has paid off for Rebecca Black. As of December 2012, she is worth $1.2 million. Anyone at Catlin could even become YouTube famous. All we need is a little help from tastemakers, participation from the public, and sheer luck.