A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Funny Conference

So I’m sitting at Starbucks at 3, and I’ll be on stage in about 33 minutes. My presentation looks perhaps like a hotdog long before it takes that edible, if somewhat phallic, shape. Despite my morning’s panic attack, missing a flight and driving the 7 hours to Boston, I manage to catch YouTube Hall-of-Famer Michael Buckley as I pass his town. Sadly he has “a doctor’s appointment” that precludes a quick spanking or whatever YouTubers do when they meet.

It’s 3:03 as I reorder slides, fundamentally changing my entire presentation (shown below on Slideshare) I can’t help but get distracted by two nervous looking band members who appear to be meeting a new digital marketer consultant. “Our last guy, um, got really busy with school,” says Shaggy (his real name is being withheld because I don’t know it). The consultant begins to LAY IT ON THICK. Total bullshit, coated with a thick creamy topping of arrogance and a faux-pedantic snobbery crowning it all like an overly marinated cherry on top.

The topic of viral video comes up, and my face begins to literally contort as I hear the crap this guy’s advising. I couldn’t control my face. I could see some gal looking at me, and then over at them… making the connection. But I can’t help myself. When Shaggy says “I’m not willing to lose my integrity to get 3 million views on YouTube,” I think seriously about coming to his rescue. But something about this consultant strikes me as odd and dangerous. He’s far too assertive, simplistic, narcissistic, simplistic and repetitive (seems we loathe that in others that we resent in ourselves).

As I’ve finally shifted back to my presentation, literally changing the entire thesis at this point with minutes to spare, the consultant BARGES out the door of Starbucks leaving Shaggy and Scooby stunned. Again I decide to go to their rescue, hold their hand, and tell them that one need not compromise their virtues to go viral… I’ll even volunteer. But just like a dream ending abruptly, they vanish. Come to think of it, maybe it was a dream. No… I’m pretty sure it was real.

Then I gave this presentation below. To show that humor is hard to categorize because of its subjectivity, I did a live vlog (seen at the end of this video) where I followed the 102nd rule of “winning over an audience.” I secretly maligned them using a stage whisper. I was actually kinda bummed out they laughed, which is not what I expected after reading this Joel Warner Wired article that put this on my rader (and created an obsession for me).

Now for the preliminary findings, and a BIG thanks to Alexis, Kiddsock and Will Reese, as well as other contributors!

 

What We Can Learn from Most-Viewed Videos of 2010

What can we learn from the most-viewed “viral” videos of 2010? How are they similar and different from years past?

First, let’s take a look at the run-down, courtesy of YouTube and ReelSEO, here’s the list. YouTube has a new trend blog/website that’s worth bookmarking or RSS’ing: YouTube Trends.

  • The BED INTRUDER SONG! (a news clip turned into a meme with help from schmoyoho
  • TIK TOK KESHA Parody: Glitter Puke – Key of Awe$ome #13 (another Next New Networks hit)
  • Greyson Chance Singing Paparazzi (a 6th grader with Justin Bieber-like cut, featuring shaky handheld camera)
  • Annoying Orange Wazzup (Daneboe’s facial fruit was spurred to amazing popularity in 2010… note that since Daneboe launched Annoying Orange’s own channel early in 2010, the collection has been viewed nearly 400 million times… giving him more views than this entire top-10 list).
  • Old Spice | The Man Your Man Could Smell Like (hey a commercial- see what does the author of Beyond Viral know?)
  • Yosemitebear Mountain Giant Double Rainbow 1-8-10 (the dude trips out seeing two rainbows)
  • OK Go – This Too Shall Pass – Rube Goldberg Machine version (Okgo, the treadmill band does it again)
  • THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE – Trailer (really? a trailer?)
  • Jimmy Surprises Bieber Fan (Jimmy Kimmel is handling his old/new media balance quite well- check out the girl get a visit from Bieber)
  • Ken Block’s Gymkhana THREE, Part 2; Ultimate Playground; l’Autodrome (this is the only one I hadn’t seen- a racing car… snore). Speaking of videos I haven’t seen (even the “Viral Video Genius” can’t see them all), did you see Cookie Monster audition for SNL? If Jim Henson was alive, SNL would be auditioning for The Muppet Show.
  • So what are the common themes?

    1. Nothing sells like a song (most of the top-10 all-time most viewed YouTube videos are songs).
    2. Quirky is still nice — whether it’s manufactured (Annoying Orange) or authentic (Double Rainbow)
    3. Viral is increasingly a symptom of offline popularity (Kimmel/Bieber/Lady Gaga/Twighlight)
    4. The biggest difference between 2009 and 2010 is that professional & commercial content trumped user-generated videos, with only one true exception (the Double Rainbow).
    5. With the exception of Daneboe (Annoying Orange) and Schmoyo (AutoTune the News), none of these really spawned a new person or channel.
    6. Production quality mattered more this year than years past. Which is why we amateurs need to up our game (see my new ShootLikePro blog).
    7. Note that the top-ten list excludes major record labels, or they would dominate list. YouTube has increasingly become a free visual jute box.

    How is this list similar or different from 2007, 2008 and 2009?

    1. Commercials are still the exception not rule. This year’s popular advertising campaign/commercial was Old Spice, and last year it was Evian’s roller skating babies. I referred to the latter in my book as the “exception to the rule” that promotional videos don’t often go viral. Even though this is increasingly true, 2011 to spawn some Old Spice knockoffs nonetheless. Hopefully a few brands and agencies will try a “road less travelled” with better odds.
    2. Both 2009 and 2009 lists had a Twilight trailer. Again- this says less about online video as the fact that the films are extremely popular.
    3. Last year’s “double rainbow” was the quirky “David After the Dentist,” now at 75 million views (that’s almost half of the views I’ve garnered on my entire collection). Hopefully we’ll continue to rally around odd moment like these.
    4. As the medium matures, we’ve seen fewer “quirky” amateur clips than, say, 2008 when we had viralizations like Fred, “Christian the Lion” and ImprovEverywhere’s “Frozen Grand Central.” The memes of 2007 were even more interesting to me — from The Landlord and “Leave Britney Alone” to Obama Girl (Next New Networks) and the South Carolina Miss Teen USA clip
    5. Last year’s kid singing Paparazzi was a more choreographed wedding video (Forever). People love an amateur singer overnight success story (Susan Boyle).
    6. Almost all of the top-10 popped on YouTube. The world’s second-largest search engine remains the most vibrant channel.
    7. The teen factor is still driving views, even if each year offers content for a broader demographic.

    Each year the top 10 most-viewed hits are a smaller percent of overall views… it’s the long tail effect. Finally, do you notice anything missing for the first year in a while? No SNL Digital shorts… or sadly, anything from The Onion, College Humor or Funny Or Die.

    Okay now go buy my book, or tell a journalist to interview me for a delightful year-end segment on viral videos.

    Beyond Viral: Everything About Online Video You Were Afraid to Ask

    Clueless Author Reveals Online-Video Secrets

    So I do this interview at Blogworld not realizing it’s friggin’ Mark Robertson of REELSEO that’s interviewing me. Since the question of video SEO comes up, I mention Mark during the interview, referring to him as the authority on video search-engine optimization… after all he helped with the chapter on video SEO in “Beyond Viral.” Then the interviewer smiles, says “yeah that Mark knows his stuff,” and turns his name badge around. So yeah, I have one of those Alzheimer’s moments where I realize I’m talking about Mark TO Mark. To make matters worse, the camera man was Daisy Whitney’s husband, who I had dinner with before. Missed that too. Jeremy Scott interviewed me via phone… he’s a hoot. So I’m going to remember him as long as… I can.

    I’m lucky I remember my kids names. All three of them. Wait- four.

    FREE “Cliff’s Notes” of My YouTube-Marketing Book

    Beyond Viral: All the benefits of Ambien without side effects

    So you’re too busy to buy a copy of my book (Beyond Viral), but maybe want a quick scan of the topics? Here are some of the key points addressed in each of the 18 chapters… these digital documents also identify the many experts who contributed to the book.

    The cheat guide to Beyond Viral

    From Daisy Whitney (This Week in Media), Mark Robertson (ReelSEO) and Ben Relles (Barely Political/Next New Netowkrs)… to  “YouTube Stars” like CharlesTrippy, VenetianPrincess, RhettandLink, ShayCarl, Mediocrefilms, and Daneboe/Annoying Orange. Thanks to all of you!

    Here’s the Beyond Viral (www.beyondviral.com) on Scribd and Slideshare.

    It’s called a “sneak preview,” but I hope you’ll read it and consider picking up the actual book. There was no way I could have summarized it in 5-20 pages because the book has loads of examples and details.

    Weirder Book Comments Anyone?

    So the book site (BeyondViral) is pretty darned live for this weeks’ official release.

    From now on, if you put your hands in this position you're stealing intellectual property.

    Now c’mon WillVideoForFood “backrowers.” You’ve done majestically on Amazon’s ratings. Let’s show David M. Scott (he’s like the Fred of social media) how fun people respond to blogs. He and Steve Garfield helped get me into Wiley’s New Rules for Social Media, and he’s blogged about Beyond Viral. Who’s got some comment humor in him. Rumor has it even Sukatra’s got WVFF access from her phone.

    Who wants to read thoughtful reactions to literature? I’m guessing David M. Scott has never experienced a mathematical correction from Alexis (apparently “exponential” is not what I think), a bowel joke from Nutcheese or a Reubnick quip. Jan’s probably got a funky political angle. Here’s hoping Marquisdejolie links back one of his bazaar videos, a term I’d use more often but for Maryln. What ya got Punchy, Zack, Coffin, JimmerSD? How about my sisters and bro? They visit. Really.

    I got a few notes that the book is in stores, which tells me either:

    • This isn’t some elaborate prank on me, or a dream.
    • Or that I’m still dreaming

    Wow. I blog in my dreams? That’s kinda lame.

    Amazon sent me a gift certificate for free copies, but I think I’m going to use it to buy a remote-controlled airplane toy with a video camera instead.

    Most Poetic Amazon Review Ever

    I give you Philip K. Jamal… a fine gent who appreciates good prose. In fact I only wish I’d had this poetic review of my latest novel, Beyond Viral, before we went to press, because it’s just plain brilliant. I feel like T.S. Elliot. I think I’ll have a glass of Absinthe as I ponder the possibility of meeting this gent and discussing the subtle allegories of Beyond Viral (see website).

    Perhaps the finest piece of literature since Faulkner's Billy Bud

    Mr. Jamal’s review:

    “As a well-respected connoisseur, I was a little wary at first, as I sat upon my davenport in the fading sun, browsing with much puzzlement at this book. It was quite a foray from my comfort zone of Voltaire, Hemingway, Lawson and Dreiser, and most of all, Cohen. Nalts, I have been told, is nothing more than a mere clown, a slapstick joker, making silly faces and engaging in tomfoolery for the masses! His prosperity is minute and his dwelling is exceedingly diminutive compared to what I love to call my quarters. How could one with an intellect that exceeds probably no more than a common house cat write a book that shines light on the ever growing field of online video? My thoughts were that if any sort of striking lady or wealthy baron were to spy upon me whilst I was reading from the pages of this tome, I would have no choice but to engage in instant defenestration, if for nothing more than to preserve my status amongst the elite. However, I found myself intrigued, amused, abashed, cowed and agape at the contents. It could be said that at a young age, I was never privileged with being granted the aptitude to comprehend even the most asinine of scripts, considering I never actually acquired the proper denomination to receive proper edification. With that said, despite the fact that I am a complete and total conveyor of fraudulence, I loved this book more than just about any other book I have ever held in my palms. It was winning, engaging and insightful to the fullest degree. I read it start to finish in one night, and I would pray you do the same. I will literally lose all faith in any higher deities would this book not receive any awards at any time in the future. Excellent, stupendous even. Mr. K. Nalty is a genious amongst people all beneath him. This has been met with some chuckles, but I have actually placed a framed visage of this man upon my eastern wall of the foyer for all visitors to witness. I’ve been inspired, actually, to reward all of my offspring with the middle name of Kevin from now on. My only complaint for this book is that after raucous googling, all of Mr. Nalty’s emotional support and muse that doesn’t come from his lovely family seems to radiate and be drawn directly from a small corner of the internet called the “comments pages” of his website “WillVideoForFood.” It would have been nice had he dedicated a chapter or two to these flawless minds and a full page picture of each of their heads (especially one dashing young lad with a charming smile, named “Reubnick”) and perhaps given all of them a signed copy of the book as a way of saying “thank you.” Other than that, there is literally nothing that could be criticized about Mr. Nalty’s masterstroke. This is a great stocking stuffer, by the way, chaps!

    AdAge Celebrates YouTube Sellouts

    AdAge called out the biggest YouTube sellouts— those known for sponsored videos for top brands. Naturally my headline would have read “YouTube’s Most Prolific Sponsored Artists” had I been included in the list. For those of you whose nipples don’t get pointy when you hear words like “advertising, marketing, Mad Men, spot, creative brief, storyboards, USP, reach, frequency and single-minded proposition,” AdAge is kinda the Forbes for advertising junkies. It’s like Men’s Health except some straight people read it.

    shaycarl
    shaycarl t-shirt

    The actual article is titled “Meet YouTube’s Most In-Demand Brand Stars,” and it’s a nice representation of the booming webstar, perhaps the central point of “Beyond Viral,” an amazing new book by Wiley & Sons coming out Sept. 21. Despite some conspicuous misses and a few odd inclusions, the article points to some interesting nuggets like MysteryGuitarMan (MGM) preference for a blank creative brief… his videos have never been better, and each one squashes my own confidence more aggressively than the next.

    I would have also liked to read a “who’s who” of the companies that link stars with brands (Hitviews, Mekanism, PlaceVine, Howcast, YouTube). That’s something you don’t see covered well, and it’d be fascinating to read about the total market for sponsored videos and the dominant players.

    TubeMogul helped compile this list, and you can see the webstar’s vital signs on the TubeMogul marketplace. The stats seem to be out of synch with YouTube’s counter and other sites (TubeMogul has me at 145 million, while YouTube alone counts 161 million…. so my views on Yahoo Video and other sites must be negative 16 million). It could be that once I “private” a video (like those I’ve buried because I no longer like them), I lose Tubemogul credit for them.

    Before I could go to bed sulking for being overlooked by AdAge and Tubemogul, I discovered author Irina Slutsky sent me a note about this a week or so. And yeah I missed it. Just like the two e-mail offers to appear on AnnoyingOrange, one of the hottest web series by DaneBoe.

    ADHD online-video creator and marketer seeks minimum-wage e-mail account manager from India.

    These peeps don’t seem to read my blog, but I consider more than a few of them as friends… Trippy (he’s been in my kids’ bed), Buckley (he spanked me), Penna (wrote the Nalts theme and couldn’t get into bars at early YouTube gathersings), and Shay (he was new, we collabed, then he became twice as big as me overnight… and also got a lot more viewers). Others are more like acquaintances like Justine (who keeps a safe distance, but I made her what she is) and Smosh. Speaking of Smosh, Ian and Anthony get props for the recent Butterfinger Snackers video (“Selling Out”) that spoofed the criticism they’ve taken lately for doing a few too many sponsored videos. Heh. I did a Butterfinger video in 2006, a year before I goofed on this whole sponsored-video space with this video, which mentions Smosh. I’m guessing the Smosh kids never saw this diddy…

    It’s me 3 years ago mimicking the emergence YouTube “sell outs” and the personalities who might desperately broker brand/webstar love connections... you know, the entities connecting brands and web stars. Most YouTube webstars know more about engaging an audience than turning a brand strategy into effective and persuasive messaging… so they need help. There are some exception- like Rhett and Link, who could just as well be their own boutique creative agency, as reflected in the quality of their advertainment and the highly unusual ratio of branded to non-sponsored views. I almost like their sponsored videos better than their brand-deficient ones because like a pro athlete they make it look easy.

    And, lest I miss mentioning my book (Beyond Viral) in a single post, you’ll find mention of almost all of these cats inside the low-cost pages… including featured sections on Rhett & Link, Charles Trippy, Shay Butler and others.

    Hey what ever happened to Buckley? I think he ignored me like Caitlin Hill (thehill88) and iJustine. Maybe Buckley needs an e-mail intern… I wonder if there are any Indians with the name Mason?

    I’m Going to Blog World San Fran Because… Chris Brogan Said I Am.

    Find me at Blog World and Mention Chris Brogan. Receive Free Top-10 Video Tips. Retail Value: $1 Billion.

    So a week or so ago I sent Chris Brogan a note. Asked him if he could get me a free pass to Blog World San Fran Los Vegas (thanks CB and SG), and offered to fill a last-minute speaking slot, be on a panel, or hand out drinks. I can’t let Steve Garfield get all the attention with Get Seen when I’ve got my book, Beyond Viral, coming out in the next weeks.

    Yesterday Chris e-mailed me to confirm that I’m attending, and saying he mentioned me in a draft “9 Ways to Rock Blog World” on his wickedly popular Chris Brogan blog. My response: “if you say I’m going, Chris, then I’m going.”

    So now I’m not only going (by plane, train or Greyhound bus), I’ll be giving away a card with top-10 secrets than can help you promote yourself and/or business via online video. But here’s the catch. I’ll be keeping these hidden, and giving them away to anyone that mentions Chris Brogan. I’d give away copies of the book, but I’m a little worried about carrying 500 books around inconspicuously.

    Thanks, Chris. I want to be you when I grow up. And when are we going to work on your fledging YouTube persona? I can double your views in a week for one case of beer.

    P.S. THIS JUST IN (3:00 pm): Marc Monseau invited me to the J&J sponsored healthcare round table (Social Health). I’m quite sure it wasn’t an inducement prompted by my giving him a free book… I didn’t even autograph it.

    Best Buy’s Social-Media Image Collapse

    Until today, WillVideoForFood didn’t have a “Greatest Corporate Social-Media CollapseAward, but it’s now going to the uncontested “winner.”

    Best Buy, a company once known for its savvy social-media presence spearheaded by Barry Judge (seen below, searching Monster.com for jobs at Circuit City), has gone from great to mediocre to embarrassing… in just a few months.

    Barry Judge, Best Buy's Chief Marketing Officer Napping

    Perhaps someone with the time and patience to run some social-media monitoring analysis can use a quantitative tool to validate Best Buy/Geek Squad’s sentiment decline (a free one, Radian6 or some others listed here). But here are three recent and vivid examples of a company whose arrogance — demonstrated by aggressive attorneys, PR apathy, and poor employee relations — has made it the undisputed 2010 winner (or loser). I’m sure someone else can better document numerous other episodes that precede and follow these, but here is what WVFF judges used to base their decision:

    1) Geek Squad Driver Calls Cops on YouTuber: A Geek Squad (Best Buy’s beloved repair team) van driver spotted this blogger and video creator shooting some b-roll of a van. My intent? To make a parody of a technical repair superhero responding to absurd computer requests (can you fix my cup holder? Oh that’s a CD-ROM drive?). The video, which might have been a humorous and free consumer-generated advertisement for Geek Squad, instead resulted in this… seen by a quarter of a million viewers. The driver called the police and “Nalts” got a fine for reckless driving.

    Hey I’m biased here, but you know that. I’m part of the story, and wasn’t thrilled to get pulled over and fined because a Geek Squad driver got paranoid (perhaps he feared I was doing a video expose on his wicked speeding). Sensing his unease, at a red light I handed him my business card, smiled, and explained my video concept. The NJ police officer said the driver interpreted that as threatening gesture and dangerous. Really? But we can forgive a company for a freaky driver, but it was poor form for Best Buy to ignore me. I wrote the company’s PR group, and a simple apology would have probably brought me right back. Did I mention I captured that driver again two weeks ago? I think he was selling ice-cream and crack cocaine this time, but don’t quote me on that.

    2) Best Buy Intimidates Employee for Parody Video With No Mention of Creator’s Employer: Then there was poor Brian Maupin, a Best Buy employee who was fired (or as Best Buy would prefer you conclude: was suspended, rehired, and quit under duress) for this funny “iPhone vs HTC Evo” video seen by 7 million. The video didn’t mention the creator worked for Best Buy, and there’s this whole “freedom of speech” thing that Best Buy’s social-media policy seems to have forgotten. But Maupin knew the event undermined his chances to ascend to Assistant to the Regional Store Manager.

    3) Geek Squad Sues Catholic Priest. Now the Geek Squad is protecting its rapidly-depreciating Geek Squad trademark (see undercover expose) by suing a priest who created a God Squad logo (readers of The National Catholic Register will no doubt boycott the store). While we understand trademark vigilance, we believe this Wisconsin Priest (Father Luke Strand) might have been handled with a bit more diplomacy, and Geek.com agrees… calling it a “PR nightmare.” Yeah, when a corporation sues a priest… Catholics (and there are a few of us) aren’t going to be thinking about trademarks when we go elsewhere for our electronics.

    Please comment below… and I invite anyone to defend each of Best Buy’s actions. It’s hard to give up on a company you love, and I’ve seen some interesting debates on various articles and blogs. I’d also like to invite anyone to join me on a 2010 boycott of Best Buy. There’s even a Facebook page to boycott Best Buy (apparently they fund anti-gay politics). I haven’t walked into the store since the po-po pulled me over, and the Maupin story gave me more resolve. But now they’re messing with a Priest? I read the Best Buy circular weekly, and never went more than 10 days without shopping there. But I’m done with the store for 2010. We’ll see if Barry or a well-meaning public-relations firm can turn this around, and revisit them in 2011.

    Hey at least I have a great case study for the sequel to Beyond Viral (now available for pre-order on Amazon). Did I mention Amazon also sells electronics?

    Sorry for Dark Blog. Sneak Preview of My Book.

    Sorry this blog has been dark. I fell asleep for 5 days. Here’s a sneak preview of my book, Beyond Viral. You can preorder it. I already ordered two copies, and plan to give them 5-star ratings that say things like “best book I’ve ever read,” and “I’m buying a copy for everyone on my team.”