Saturday, November 26, 2011

The birth of viral contents over the Internet

Popular Content
For a scientist to become popular, it takes a considerable effort and lots of dedication. But someone who creates some creative content and uploads it over the Internet, might probably get equally famous among a wider audience.

Getting Viral
A content grabs the attention of millions and becomes an Internet meme by becoming viral, shared and spread over multiple online media. The content can be a video, a blog post, an image, or even an audio clip. Some contents become popular due to their controversial nature, and the others become popular just because of the curiosity of the people. The social media interaction makes the popular content more popular. Once a content sparks some interest to a viewer, he might probably visit the content back (say, if that is a video or an audio clip), and also share the content over the social media for the people in his network to view. This leads to an exponential growth to the popularity of the content. If an influential person shares your content to his circles of friends, most probably your content will be viewed and further shared by his circle of friends too.

Creating controversy or inducing curiosity
If we take YouTube, the mostly viewed videos are not necessarily good ones. Most of these video clips have more 'dislikes' than the 'likes', as people get disappointed with what they just saw, because of their curiosity. When the thumbnail image of the video shows some "cute stuff", it is very hard to resist the desire to click and view the clip. A sexy title and an attractive caption will be an added advantage. However, when we realize that there is nothing such interesting material in that clip, than a mere ad, we 'dislike' it. Still the 'view' count increases, and the video remains popular. Some companies work for their clients or customers to make their content viral by creating controversy around them, by posing as multiple users, or simply by sharing that content over multiple media, using multiple accounts.

Sparking the interest
There are a few genuine attempts that become viral by the fans viewing and sharing them multiple times. The most commonly stated example is the YouTube clip, "Yosemitebear Mountain Giant Double Rainbow 1-8-10", where someone shouts and expresses his extreme level of joy, looking at a double rainbow.

The Double Rainbow
It has got 31,595,276 views, 206,997 likes, 4,549 dislikes, and 91,157 comments. This was also made into a song, which also has become equally viral, with almost same number of views and likes. Comics have been written around the "Double Rainbow" and many parodies have been created around. According to an article in, a tweet from Jimmy Kimmel was the major reason behind this video clip becoming popular. However, I am personally not supporting any such claims without a strong evident. Who knows - many others too may have shared the content and enjoyed it parallel.

Why this Kolaveri
Why This Kolaveri Di Full Song Promo Video in HD has got 6,263,365 views, 73,595 likes, 3,058 dislikes, and 30,361 comments within two weeks since it is posted. Like all the other addictions, "Kolaveri" is proven yet another rising addiction. Once watched, everyone keeps watching it multiple times, and then starts sharing. This leads to an exponential popularity growth. If this continues, it will very soon overtake the mostly known viral video - "Double Rainbow" shout. It is a song sung by the Tamil actor Dhanush, a son-in-law of the Tamil super star Rajinikanth. This song is sung in Tanglish, a Chennai slang of Tamil + Broken English, with simple words.

The girl in the green top in this clip is Shruti Hassan the heroine of the movie "3", to which this song belongs to. She is a daughter of Kamalhaasan (an award winning Tamil actor and long time competitor of Rajinikanth). The other girl in this song is Aishwarya Dhanush - Dhanush's wife who directs this movie. The debuting music director, Anirudh, a nephew of Rajinikanth can also be seen in this video. Everyone expected this song to become popular among the Tamil cinema fans due to this stardom. Nevertheless, no one including the producers of this song/movie expected it to become viral globally. The fact that the song is indeed sung in English, but with a south Indian accent and a touch of Tamil, must have helped the song becoming popular among the non-Tamil speakers.

For a content to become viral, it should reach the common men, and should not target a narrow niche. Among my blog posts, how to ignore someone you love can be stated as somewhat viral. It is the third mostly viewed post in my blog, along with the highest number (46) of facebook likes. I, myself didn't expect that post to become popular, since I wrote it without much effort unlike the technology blog posts, that I wrote with much effort. The attractive blog title, with the interesting common area of discussion - "ignoring facebook invitations", must have attracted more readers in, unlike the posts that are focused on a niche.

Creating a viral content is not that much easy though. No one has properly found a formula to estimate how the human brain functions. We can create some interesting content, but the audience decides its success.

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