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Going Viral: YouTube

Updated on August 28, 2013

“If you don't start somewhere, you'll never start.” ― Sean Klitzner


In February of 2005, Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim started YouTube in their garage. In October 2006 YouTube was purchased by Google. YouTube's revenue comes from advertising. Those are the basic facts. In my humble opinion, unless you've been living under a rock for the past seven years, you not only know about YouTube but you've looked at it more than once. Youtube videos include YouTub emovie trailers, YouTube music, MTV videos, YouTube funny videos, homemade videos, you name it you can find it on YouTube. From ants to how to skin a cat, there's a YouTube video for it.

In 1968 Andy Warhol said, "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes." It has come to mean to most people that everyone will, at some time, have their "fifteen minutes of fame". Thanks to YouTube that has happened and will continue to happen. Anyone can upload to YouTube and anyone can be discovered. Look at Justin Bieber (from a small town in Canada)...his Mom posted videos of him singing (in 2008) so friends and family could see...Usher and Justin Timberlake, among others, discovered his YouTube videos and before you know it, Justin was a singing sensation!

Justin Bieber's first YouTube video

Volkswagen Commercial

Not everyone posting videos to YouTube winds up like Justin Bieber BUT there is now such a thing as "going viral" on YouTube. Wikipedia says videos went viral before YouTube but we're look at them because of YouTube. So, going viral on YouTube basically means one person shows a video on YouTube to another who shows it to another who shows it to more others, and its so good people keep sharing it. It then becomes so popular it seems everyone is watching it and you may even see it on the news or in newspapers. You're looking at a video with millions of views!

Now that we've laid the ground work, what kind of videos go viral and give their authors and/or performers their 'fifteen minutes' of fame? To the right is a video of a commercial that went viral.

Oogachaka Baby

Two of the top viral videos of 2011 include:

Jack Sparrow (feat. Michael Bolton)
Webcam 101 for Seniors...

Videos that are on official lists aren't always the ones kids are watching. Remember way back in 2006, the Oogachaka Baby? Everybody was watching and sharing this video. I've posted it to the right to jog your memory. Back then we thought it was great and everyone was sharing it! Now, a live baby has taken it's place...the laughing baby.

But it is not all about babies. Its all about anything and everything. Having grandchildren keeps me up-to-date and what's going viral on YouTube. The next video is hysterical in it's own way. Its called "Sexy Sax Man Careless Whisper Prank feat. Sergio Flores". This young man plays his sax anywhere and everywhere mostly uninvited. With his sixties mullet he would attract attention but add to that his leather clothes and his saxaphone and he's on YouTube, with his video spreading (going viral) among young people.

Sexy Sax Careless Whisper

Call Me Maybe

This next one is a true phenomenon, its a song that's gone viral and has everybody doing videos about it. The song is "Call Me Maybe". It is sung by Canadian singer-song writer Carly Rae Jepsen. While this song is popular world-wide and has been sung by many other artists, EVERYONE on YouTube is trying to get their fifteen minutes of fame by 'doing' this one (also called a cover or parody)! They're not singing it or even trying to sing it, they're letting the original singer sing while they 'act' it out. There are tons of videos on YouTube doing this but I picked just a few to let you in on the craze....The Olympic Swimming Team, Army Soldiers in Afghanistan, the Harvard Baseball team, The 2012 Miss USA Contestants (with Donald Trump, Andy Cohen, and Guilliana Rancic), Steelers Training Camp 2012....the list goes on.

Have you ever posted a video to YouTube?

See results

How to Go Viral

There are so many more and no one know what lies ahead. Sophia Grace and Rosie are a singing sensation singing everything from rap to jazz, all of their videos are already viral, Ryan Gosling breaks up a street fight, The Honey Badger, Lily's Disneyland Surprise...these are but a few of the viral videos with millions (yes, I said millions) of views.

Unlike writing, there is no set rules to make a video go viral although there are a few concepts to think about. If you want your video to go viral, funny is a good thing. If the video is funny and people can relate to it, it might catch on. You might try shocking, sometimes people will keep watching when they are shocked. Regardless of the content you really need to promote your video initially. Post links to your video on your blogs, email the link to your friends, and post it on your Facebook page. Remember to get your whole family to watch it and recommend it to their friends!

Here's a tip from "The Secret Strategies Behind Many "Viral" Videos", make sure the middle of your video has a great shot or is really interesting because the thumbnail representing your video is taken from the middle of your video. You want your thumbnail to be appealing so people will click on your video. A good title for your video is helpful too. Just like keywords can help on Hubpages, keywords can help your videos too. Remember, people search on Youtube just like the do on Google. Don't forget to provide good information in your introduction and when you assign tags to your video make sure they fit the video and will come up in a search. Always tell the truth though, adding words like fabulous and never-before-seen won't help if it isn't true. It just may get your video buried for life!

So you writers out there, come up with a clever video, go viral, and make lots of money while enjoying your fifteen minutes of fame, then get back to writing!

Copyright Tillsontitan - All Rights Reserved

Why Videos Go Viral


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    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      As with anything Michelle there's good and bad but I think the good in YouTube outweighs the bad. Thanks for the share.

      Welcome nanaderson, thanks for visiting.

    • nanderson500 profile image

      nanderson500 5 years ago from Seattle, WA

      YouTube is lots of fun. I go on there every day. Very interesting hub, voted up.

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      Youtube is such a great tool. Not only for promoting oneself, but for everything these days! I use them a lot in teaching as well. Justin was a lucky young man!! Shared!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Thanks mperrottet....I would say its here to stay for awhile. Appreciate the vote!

    • mperrottet profile image

      Margaret Perrottet 5 years ago from Pennsauken, NJ

      What a fun hub. YouTube is a great thing. I have eight of my travel videos on it, and I love it because I can incorporate the videos into Hubs as well as watch them on TV. Great hub - voted up and awesome.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      My grandkids are the ones that showed me Call Me Maybe. Glad you enjoyed the music.

      CClitgirl, depending on what you're doing 15 minutes can be a blink of an eye or it can be an eternity...we can only hope the ride IS fun! You are welcome for the posting.

      Hope both of you ladies have a great day!

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      This is an awesome hub - the videos are perfect - I found myself watching all of them just to see the hype. 15 minutes, huh? That would be cool. 15 minutes. It's a fun goal. Maybe we'll never get there, but the fun is in the "ride" - you gotta enjoy it. :D Thank you for posting this.

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      Mary, wonderful Youtube facts. Making your claim to fame isn't that difficult after all! I enjoyed Call Me Maybe!! Wonderful hub and music which I am sharing.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Lord, how right you are with your statement "video killed the radio star". It's very possible. How far we've come from punch cards! We are lucky to have seen the evolution we've seen.Thanks for reading and sharing.

    • Lord De Cross profile image

      Joseph De Cross 5 years ago

      I began to watch YouTube in 2007 and I have gone into the past. Mostly 80's songs that VH1 had already buried. Whenever I missed a History Channel video, I'm sure I will find it. Amazing how Andy Warhol came out with that statement. Justin Bieber had everything, good looks, charm, a voice(well, I don't want ChristyWrites get mad), and Justin Timberlake. Time went fast, but 6 years is a lot for the internet. I'm the lucky one that saw all this evolve; back in 1982 I was taking microcomputers with punching cards and those green phosphorescent numbers on a small terminal monitor (fortran). I see already a YouTube account on 3D or holographic coming our way. Thanks Mary for those videos and your effort. I did upload some videos and probably they migh go viral, who knows. Playing now, "video killed the radio star."

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      I know what you mean about the laughing baby Janine, did you know they've done several more of this baby as it is growing up? That must be one happy baby! Thanks for the votes, shares AND tweet!

      Curiad, we learn something new everyday ;) thanks for stopping by.

    • Curiad profile image

      Mark G Weller 5 years ago from Lake Charles, LA.

      I agree, YouTube videos are available in every shape and color. I loaded a couple but they are basically boring. I did learn how to use a webcam in the process though!

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 5 years ago from New York, New York

      I started to read your article Mary and very interesting indeed about YouTube and going viral. I still am amazed that 9 times out of 10 when you need a video for something you can most like.y find it on YouTube. There seriously is video just about every topic on there. That said, I do love the video of the baby and think we have seen that one at least a dozen times. It seriously never gets old. Have voted, shared and tweeted too!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Thanks Glimmer. Congratulations on your slideshow! You should be proud.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 5 years ago

      This hub pulled me in because I finally figured out how to get a youtube account and upload a slide show for my last hub. Can you tell I am proud of myself! It's amazing the number and types of youtube videos out there! I'm also amazed at how many people post youtube videos on facebook. I can see how some of them go viral and my guess is that many more stars like Justin Bieber will be discovered in the future. Great hub!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Effer I really need you to come and talk to my family about my massive brain ;) It is amazing what youtube can do as evidenced by Justin Bieber...I agree, a very talented and cute young man. The 'viral' youtubes can be funny and interesting so I thought, what the heck...write a hub! Thanks for always being number one for me and with me!

      Billy, you were the second person on this miss nothing! I guess now I have to look you up and youtube to get those views up! Thanks as always, for stopping by.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm sorry Mary, I didn't see this one; maybe it just came out judging from the comments. Anyway, this is our dream as writers, isn't it? to go viral. I have eight videos on YouTube and only one has hit 1200 views, but hey, that's better than I would have dreamed.

      Great hub my friends; nice job!

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 5 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Good Morning, Ms. T.......You Tube is indeed massively popular. I've been known to cruise the lists myself. It's fun, interesting and usually better entertainment than a lot of other things!

      I had no clue about the Justin Bieber You Tube story!! Thanks for that tid bit of info. That sort of blows me away, to look at his fame now! I really like him, even though I'm FAR from the teen age stage. I happen to think he's very talented and I do like his music. He's adorable as heck.

      There are many of these types of tales stemming from You Tube.....and leave it to your bright and imaginative talent to create a hub on this.......I would love just a 30 second glance into that massive brain of yours! The wheels must spin like crazy!

      This hub is great, GF.......Have you ever thought of putting out a You Tube Video?? I'd have to admit, it's tempting. UP +++ & share