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How does a video go viral?

March 15, 2014

A journalist and a video creator share their real-life experiences


In Five simple steps for creating a viral video I wrote about my experience sharing a video that went viral. There are some who think they’ve unlocked the science of making a viral video and many others still trying to crack the secret code. Most of us believe there’s no such thing, telling a compelling or sensational story helps but luck plays a big role.

So I asked Andy Greene, associate editor at Rolling Stone who wrote Watch Billy Joel Forget The Lyrics To ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’ a couple of questions, because I wanted to understand how he chose my video. Here’s what he had to say:

So there you have it… the reason the video went viral was pure luck. Andy was looking for a video that captured the story and he just happened to choose mine. It also used a descriptive text so it showed up in the top of search results at that point in time.

Last week, students in the Digital Strategy Certificate program created videos for a course assignment. Hilary Darrah’s video, “Joey Loves Water” currently has 171,464 views.

I asked Hilary if she thought her video would go viral and here’s what she had to say:

“Not really. I submitted it to a cute animals website just to try for a few thousand views but this has been way more than I ever expected!”

Apparently, people never tire of watching cute cats videos.

What type of videos do you like to watch? Please share your tips for creating compelling videos.


Great story, Eden. And maybe you've come up with the answer to the question can you make me a viral video? That depends on how lucky you are...

And you and Hilary have set a record for #digitaledu, not sure we'll ever top two viral videos in one week!


@martinwaxman  Thanks Martin. I'm taking it all in and learning as much as possible while being at the vortex of a viral video experience so I can share the knowledge. 

Congrats to Hilary!  A lot of work went into  making Joey Loves Water.