Archive for the 'Viral' Category

What makes boring interesting?

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

What makes a video good for attracting page views? Well, if you take a look at this YouTube video of someone mowing their lawn you might be forgiven for thinking that anything goes.

As I write, “Dom’s Boring Video” has had 39,021 views including me — TWICE! That makes it the most viewed and most discussed video in the United Kingdom and the 35th most viewed and FOURTH most discussed in the world.

It consists of  nine minutes and 43 seconds of a bloke mowing his lawn.

Alternatively, you can “Watch Paint Dry” for 10 minutes and 4 seconds, “The Most BoringYouTube Video ……. Ever” for 7 minutes and 25 seconds or “Most boring movie on YouTube” for a mere one minute and 11 seconds.

However, none of these (or the trillion other pretenders to the YouTube Ennui title) are doing as much business as Dom’s Boring Video. Why?

The simple answer is publicity: Dom’s Boring Video is a production of the UK’s number one youth-oriented morning radio programme, The Chris Moyles Show, and were it not for this there’s no way it would be breaking records.

The only surefire way to get people to watch your video is to make it interesting and make it relevant.

The dream of any content marketer — as far as online movies go — is to strike lucky with a viral  video. A while ago Tech Crunch carried a candid piece by viral marketer Dan Ackerman Greenberg which detailed the lengths he went to with his Comotion Group to achieve viral status.

As I launch a series of videos linked to my day job, one tip springs to mind.

YouTube provides three choices for a video’s thumbnail, one of which is grabbed from the exact MIDDLE of the video.

As we edit our videos, we make sure that the frame at the very middle is interesting. It’s no surprise that videos with thumbnails of half naked women get hundreds of thousands of views. Not to say that this is the best strategy, but you get the idea.

What The Public Wants

Wednesday, September 12th, 2007

If the findings of a new US report are true, then content editors are going to need to rethink their news values.

For it seems that while hardened journalists are insisting that the headlines should be concentrating on Iraq, the world financial crisis and the debate about immigration, what web users are REALLY interested in is Britney Spears, the rise of Nintendo and the release of the iPhone.

Tom Rosenstiel, who helped to write the report for the Project for Excellence in Journalism, told the BBC …

“Users gravitated towards more eclectic stories. There was a sense that users sifting through a lot of raw information; rumour, gossip, propaganda and the news were all throw into the mix.”

The study compared headline news in nearly 50 mainstream news sources, including TV, radio and online, to that of three user-driven news sites. Seventy per cent of stories selected by Reddit, Digg and came from blogs or non-news websites with only 5% of stories overlapping with the top 10 stories in the mainstream media.

The question is what does this really mean for content? Is all that journalistic training and experience for nought?

Firstly, Reddit, Digg and (and StumbleUpon and the rest) are favourite haunts of a tech generation, just the sort of people fascinated by the Wii or the iPhone or Britney so the comparison with sites like is not a direct one.

Second, the people who use Reddit, Digg, et al are more likely looking for something light-hearted and off-beat. The Age of Citizen Journalism is here: there is plenty being said on blogs and news-you-can-use sites, and as election year dawns in the US the level of comment will only increase.

Actually, the researchers found traditional news outlets like accounted for one in four stories on the user news sites and less than one in a 100 were actually original.

“That suggests that people are re-aggregating the news in the style of citizen editors rather than journalists,” Rosenstiel told BBC news. “These sites offer people a different take on the news but it doesn’t mean that traditional journalism has become irrelevant. They are forming more of secondary conversation about the news.”

So newsmen and women shouldn’t be reaching for their pink slips just yet. The new citizen journalist is more likely a citizen commentator, or just someone sharing their opinion over a few beers (but possibly without the beers).

For content professionals there is a silver lining. All this talk implies that there is an unquenchable thirst for something interesting on the web. All you have to do now is cater to that thirst!