While the phenomena of viral videos and internet celebrities are relatively new, it seems like there's a new one every other day. Sometimes they're funny, other times they have a social mission, like Kony 2012, and sometimes they're just videos of cats jumping in boxes.
The internet's alter-ego is definitely a crazy cat lady.
But one thing that's still unclear about viral videos is why certain ones become so popular. There's no clear-cut set of characteristics that defines a viral video, and it seems that the best are always the ones that happen by accident—you just can't fake it.
That's why the Viral Ad Network created a tool that helps you find out the "formula" behind viral videos and what makes people share them. It's called TubeRank, and it gives you inspiration for creating your own viral videos by letting you choose the triggers and "communities of interest," then showing you examples of videos that fit those criteria (beware of loud dubstep starting around 0:45).
TubeRank takes into account who shared a video, and how many times it was shared, to determine which triggers work with different markets and demographics. Then, it generates a report that shows you your TubeRank score along with benchmarking data and case studies on other videos and the behind-the-scenes process that goes into making them.
The triggers are traits like funny, weird, educational, and NSFW, and some of the demographics include fashion, geek culture, sports, and gaming. For instance, if you like your LOLs with just a touch of WTF, the tool suggests checking out Catvertising for inspiration.
Even if you're not trying to get your 15 minutes of internet fame, TubeRank can be useful just for the purpose of finding popular YouTube videos to fit your mood. As a matter of fact, during this writing the app got me distracted quite a few times because it's fun to toggle the switches and see what it serves up next.
Because the internet is an unpredictable mess, we may never get the production of viral videos down to a science, but it can help us figure out just what's so appealing about them. Until then, when in doubt, just use cats.