How to Make a Successful Follow-Up Viral Video

After the success of the Al Roker video and Psy’s Gangnam Style Tate Srey and I had a discussion about content that goes viral. We joked about the mashups and remixes we’d soon see for Gangnam Style and tentatively planned out our own. Tate and I also discussed a formula for viral content and how follow-ups will monetize on the success of the initial hit. We discussed that exclusivity is key, a remix that includes technique or skills that can’t easily be reproduced sets up the remix for success. Also a creative or catchy re-imagining of the initial viral content allows for something like an echo of the viral video’s success to occur. Timeliness is vital unless you’re going for the nostalgic angle. Tate and I then talked about “the multiplier”, a way for the viral content to hook a wider audience which includes enticing the laggards that may have initially missed the first-run video but also intrigues the early adopters that have grown tired of the initial concept.

A multiplier could be a featured celebrity, localized content, or community-inclusive content. Tate and I came to the conclusion that the Gangnam Style remix would likely include more sex, would retain non-American actors, and include additional talent that may not have appeared to align with the original content. The Korean dance team Waveya has created their own version of the Gangnam Style video and falls right in line with what we were predicting. The Waveya version includes scantily clad dancers rocking out to Gangnam Style and has 8.3 million views of as of September 6, 2012.

Here’s the Nicki Minaj/Psy mashup that riffs on sexuality similar to the Waveya version of Gangnam Style but should appeal to an American audience. Nicki and Psy are sitting at 6 million views as of September 6, 2012:

This clearly isn’t a primer on how to market a follow-up viral or even how to choose a follow-up theme, i.e., nostalgia, sex, and violence. I’ve also refrained from discussing the use and abuse of these themes and demographic data for coordinating a campaign. This post is a starting point from which to discuss the influence viral content has on the culture. I’m constantly considering the diffusion of innovations theory when observing content, trying to understand how concepts propagate throughout culture.  I’ll leave the discussion of cross-pollination of ideas for another post and possibly a recorded roundtable discussion with the Unified Pop Theory content contributors.

Dennis Bonilla is a user experience designer and digital strategist who co-founded Unified Pop Theory with his friends. Dennis is a trend finder and idea maker who is inspired by individuals that believe the world can be changed one great project at a time. Dennis can be reached on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+.

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