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If you haven’t seen the Jill and Kevin wedding entrance dance yet then now’s the time to take a look. There are a few things to takeaway from it, to understand why and how it went viral.

Uploaded less than two weeks ago as a way of sharing it to friends and family, the five-minute video is one of the biggest viral hits of the summer. It has attracted more than 13m views on YouTube alone, and has been rated by no less than 66,000 people (it has a five-star rating to boot).

So first, here’s the video. If have have a cute allergy then look away now:

So what can we learn from this joyfest? What made it a viral hit?

Loosely choreographed. Decent production values and sound. Dollops of humour. Do you think this would have had the same effect if somebody had shot it on a low-rent cameraphone, with wobbly hands and appalling sound quality?

An original idea
I’m sure this sort of thing has been done before but in the context of the event itself, it was an outside of the box idea. Nobody at the wedding was expecting the congregation to dance their way into church. The unexpected can have the wow factor and this is something we can all learn from. As Lisa Barone says: “Your customers will probably expect you to act a certain way today. The same old greetings, the same service, the same old promises, etc. Maybe today you should surprise them. Answer the phone differently. Offer them something extra. Show them another side of you. Let yourself get carried away and swept up.”

The feelgood factor

Only the most blackhearted viewer will fail to smile at this (there is at least one ‘Meh’ comment on Youtube, but it's mainly an overload of goodwill). I defy you to keep a straight face.

The right channel
Youtube is a great platform to host a video, and – if you want - to launch a viral campaign. It allows clips to be embedded in blog posts such as this one. It has a vast community. People participate (66,000 ratings and a similar number of comments). That is going to generate a lot of awareness on the YouTube platform itself, as well as word of mouth offline and on other sites.

Influencer evangelists
Seeded on Digg by Lisa Barone, chief branding officer at Outspoken Media. So far it has generated 5,200+ Diggs and almost 500 comments, plus 800+ retweets and 178 comments on Lisa’s blog. Lisa was one of many who pointed people at the video, and when there's enough of them you reach...

...the tipping point
Once viral activity hits a certain point it can really explode. In the first four days the video attracted 750,000 views on YouTube, which is quite a success story. But in the past week it has gone superviral by adding more than 12m more views. Why? Because it was seeded on Digg and went big thereafter. And it's not the Digg homepage or bust. A rising star on Digg (and other sites) will be spotted and distributed elsewhere. People who submit content to other social media sites watch the Digg Upcoming area for ideas. The effect of this kind of clip being picked up elsewhere tends to be more diggs, and more love all round.

Mainstream media
There are hundreds upon hundreds of news stories indexed in Google News on this video. If your idea does the same thing you’re onto a winner. Just ask Alex Tew, who can thank the likes of the BBC and CNN for the success of Million Dollar Homepage (and note that the idea itself had some similar traits as the Jill and Kevin video: original idea, feelgood factor, executed just so…). The mainstream media can make all the difference and push a viral skywards. And it is a beast that feeds itself... Jill and Kevin (plus wedding party) were subsequently asked onto NBC’s TODAY Show to re-enact the performance.

Chris Lake

Published 31 July, 2009 by Chris Lake

Chris Lake is CEO at EmpiricalProof, and former Director of Content at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter, Google+ or connect via Linkedin.

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Comments (1)



And another great point to take away (especially for those hesitant to move into the realm of social media) is all the analytical tools available to track the impact of your message.

about 7 years ago

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