As the group behind the Kony 2012 film releases a sequel researchers are trying to understand a potentially lucrative question: Why do some online videos go viral? Joel Flynn reports.
Whether you agree with it or not, you've almost certainly heard of it. The group behind Kony 2012 has released the sequel to the video that was viewed by almost 100 million people across the world. The video highlighted atrocities committed by Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony and can largely be considered successful given the amount of people it has reached. But the more difficult question to answer is why videos like this one go viral. Unruly Media in London specialise in viral videos. Sarah Wood is the company's chief operating officer and co-founder. SOUNDBITE: Unruly Media Chief Operating Officer and Co-founder, Sarah Wood, saying (English): "There is so much competition for viewers' eyeballs -- sixty hours of content uploaded to Youtube every minute -- that it takes a lot for a video to go viral. So, ideally, you need the video to make an emotional connection with the viewer, to elicit a physical reaction, and to surprise the viewer -- show them something they weren't expecting." Companies are now catching onto the growing power of viral now as well. Ecotricity's video of collapsing water towers was, at one count, the fifith most shared video on the internet. Whether the video's success is based on its cause, or its comedy is unclear. Dale Vince is Ecotricity's founder. SOUNDBITE: Ecotricity founder, Dale Vince, saying (English): "We spent a few tens of thousands of pounds on it, and have reached an audience of millions. It's been on TV in America, it's got a lot of peoples attention." But, says Sarah Wood, the success of viral videos should not be seen as a counter culture, and in fact companies themselves can and are taking advantage. SOUNDBITE: Unruly Media Chief Operating Officer and Co-founder, Sarah Wood, saying (English): "There's a real opportunity here for brands. Lots of the savvier brands are already engaging with social video, so they're creating content that their consumers, the audiences, want to watch and that will make an emotional connection with their audiences. There's a massive opportunity to build a long-term relationship with consumers Analysts say social networking has changed the way the advertisers now interact with their audiences. Whilst videos like Kony 2012 are based strongly around emotional reactions, many say the success lies in creating a dialogue between the creator of the content and the consumer. And that, for many, is where the opportunities lie. Joel Flynn, Reuters