5 Steps to Viral Video

One of my students recently shared a video with me that I hadn’t seen before in true word of mouth marketing style. The video is about a boy who held on to his dream and a filmmaker who was inspired the kid’s imagination and tenacity. Of course it helped that the filmmaker stumbled upon Caine, our protagonist, but even so, here are the 5 reasons why this video went viral.

If you haven’t seen the video yet, it’s a great story, have a watch:

What constitutes a viral video, you ask? Any video that has millions of views in a relatively short period of time. The viral nature of the video comes from it being shared or spread so much that it receives all those views. Everyone is talking about it and sharing it both online via email and social networks, as well as offline in person via word of mouth.

5 Reasons the Why Caine’s Arcade Video Went Viral:

  1. WIIFT: What’s In It For Them?
  2. It’s a story about a kid who had a dream. We’ve all had dreams like this and can empathize with Caine. For you, the viewer, the story gives you a feeling of empowerment. This makes you feel like you can do this too. We are inspired by stories of others’ dreams becoming reality, because we want that same experience for ourselves.

  3. Inspire and Entertain
  4. The video is inspirational because Caine obviously has a great imagination and innate talent. These are things we all want and admire in others. We are inspired by Caine’s courage and entertained by his story. Of course the videographer has edited the video to make us feel this way. Remember that this is your challenge when you’re making your viral video. Always keep your viewer in mind. Think about how they will feel. What will make them share your video?

  5. Celebrity Endorsement
  6. The protagonist is cute and likable. We want him to succeed. Since Caine seems like the underdog, we have more affinity for him. We like to see surprise and we delight in unexpected success. The celebrity here though isn’t necessarily Caine himself. The endorsing party is the videographer who was inspired by Caine’s story to make the video about him. The videographer was able to gather enough people to make Caine have such a successful day at his arcade.

  7. Have a Heart
  8. The story is entertaining and pulls on your heart strings. The joy on Caine’s face as he realizes what is happening is priceless. We share in both his ambition and his achievement. A happy ending is always a good way to encourage sharing. When people feel good, they want their friends to feel the same way, so they share what is making them feel good.

  9. To Be Continued
  10. The story is… To Be Continued…
    Just like any good TV series, there is another episode after this one. This makes us feel like we want to know more and encourages us to share the video with friends and family. Viral video requires this kind of sharing.

Your turn: What’s your favorite viral video? Do you know why it went viral? What did you learn from how it was made and what made it a viral video?

Periscoping the Periscope App

What is Periscope and Why Should I Care?

The live streaming app Periscope was recently acquired by Twitter. In this post, we’ll look at why Periscope and competitor live streaming app, Meerkat as well as other similar mobile broadcasting solutions. We’ll also describe why these live streaming apps will be game changers in social media marketing as well as citizen journalism.


Periscope is a brand new live streaming app. What does that mean? It means it’s mobile, i.e. it’s on your phone, with you all the time, so you as a Periscope app owner/user can live stream video of anything anywhere as long as you have a connection to the Internet. It’s difficult to grasp the nature of the app until you actually use it. Because it is video, it requires real-time immersion to actually see first hand how it works. Without this real life experience, it would be similar to you trying to understand Facebook without having any friends on it.

Periscope App icon

We Are the Media 

If you understand that Twitter connects people all around the world, enabling conversations around niche interests, then you’ll start to be able to imagine a world where those conversations are not just text and tweets. Now they can be based on the viewing of a live event, whether that be a protest like the #Egypt revolution, sports event like the USA basketball #marchMadness or #FIFA, the world cup soccer, or even less newsy, but still interesting adventures like your personal commute to work in London, or how to make a cesar salad at a steakhouse in New York as Dave Kerpen showed a few days ago.

Alerts on iPhone from Periscope

When someone starts streaming you get alerts on your phone. @Amandaoleander is a prolific broadcaster and has already achieved a million hearts. Hearts on Periscope are like favorites in Twitter.

Meerkat alert
The above screenshot shows an example of a Meerkat alert when you are following a broadcaster.
Periscope stream of videos

Upon entering Periscope you see a list of videos that are currently live.


There is also a list of recently aired videos.


Meerkat having been around about a month longer than Periscope uses the “Write what’s happening…” prompt to encourage you to title your live video or schedule one for posting later.


Videos in Meerkat show in a still in preview mode.


When Meerkat videos are running, you see the avatars of everyone who is watching, you have the ability to comment, heart (favorite or like) and retweet or share the video.


On Periscope, there is just the ability to comment and touching the screen produces a heart which floats above the video and fades out.


If you understand the benefits and ubiquity of YouTube, combine that will no need to edit your video and the ability to stream live conversations in an instant from your mobile device, and you start to be able to imagine how this may change the way we consume all broadcast media. No longer are just the big Television stations able to broadcast, but you can now too!

Connecting People

Right now you can tweet to your favorite celebrity and they may indeed reply to your tweet. You can also have conversations with your fellow fans of TV shows, sports team and rock stars. How much more connected would you feel and fun would it be to have one of these celebrities live streaming a Q&A and/or showing a behind the scenes view of the locker room before a game, green room before a concert and/or just someone getting ready to watch the TV show they created with the fans that love it? Imagine Shonda Rhymes broadcasting a Q&A session during the most recent episode of Scandal. Right now the conversation happens on Twitter, but it could just as easily happen on Periscope helping fans feel more personally connected to Shonda.

Periscope is currently in an experimentation mode, since it was just launched about a week ago (and launched between Alpha and Beta phases). This means that most people and companies using it are still trying to figure best practices and original ideas. There are going to be a lot of people that don’t understand the potential impact live streaming will have, because of all the early experimentation (and pardon my bluntness, crap) that’s being posted. Just like people poo-poohed Twitter saying that it was just a bunch of people talking about what they had for lunch, Periscope and Meerkat will have and are having a similar pushback right now.

But from what I can see after just a few days of the launch of Periscope, the adoption among tech and digital marketing industry zealots and professionals means it is a phenomenon to be monitored. Early adopters are always first to play and experiment with new technology. Yes, most of what we see being shared on Periscope could be construed as meaningless, but remember, especially in the social media marketing and app industries, playing is learning.

Just as Facebook and Twitter introduced us to social media and changed the way we think about marketing, connecting and buzz, Periscope and Meerkat will provide a whole new lens into how we communicate. As Brian Solis said: “Participation is marketing.” Periscope is a new channel upon which we now have the ability to share real-time events and life happenings in an instant, easily enabling people to connect and share feedback as well. Live streaming is the next big thing in social.

An Arrangement of Lenses

The dictionary.com definition of periscope describes a periscope as an “optical instrument…with an arrangement of lenses”:


an optical instrument for viewing objects that are above the level of
direct sight or in an otherwise obstructed field of vision, consisting
essentially of a tube with an arrangement of prisms or mirrors
and, usually, lenses: used especially in submarines.”

 I like to think of the lenses (like Squidoo) in the Periscope app as opinions coming from viewers and also the broadcaster. Never before has broadcasting been so easy! If we think back to before point and shoot film cameras and then digital photography, there were only a select few who could capture a still image. Today everyone can capture any image and distribute it worldwide within seconds. Not only that, but now the ability to share your own opinion, an event, tips and anything you might find interesting via live streaming video from your phone to a network of friends and strangers.

Which one is better, Periscope or Meerkat? 

Both platforms are still in their infancy and there are lots of wish list features for each. I see huge potential for live streaming to be a game changer in social media marketing as well as general peer communications. What Periscope lacks in search and distribution on the Twitter platform, it makes up for with constant alerts of live broadcasts being made available, and ease of use.

The fact that you can’t search on Periscope for a certain topic, means you are at the mercy of everyone on the platform and who you’ve chosen to follow. Since the first set of people you’re following is pulled from Twitter though, it’s likely you’ll find a few interesting people broadcasting on topics that are engaging.

Since Meerkat allows share of the Meerkat broadcast on Twitter, people are more apt to view it after the fact, but hopefully Periscope will figure out how to show broadcasts on Twitter in the Twitter stream like it does with Vine for example.

It may be called a fad for a while, but this is the kind of new technology that people doubt before it becomes the norm. Facebook and Twitter were frowned upon for years before they became mainstream social networks. I predict Periscope and Meerkat will have similar growth.

The technology has been around for a while says Mashable’s Ben Parr on an interview with NBC news via Periscope today. Justin.TV was purchased by Twitch. We had Ustream and others several years ago, but never before has it been so easy to live stream. This is the result of increased bandwidth and enhanced video capabilities in smart phones. “It’s not a replacement for the traditional media model,” say Parr, but it does facilitate more people being able to share what is going on in the world around them at any given moment. This has implications for citizen journalism and with the likes of companies like OnPublico who facilitate people sharing local news as well as personal expertise and just plain fun.


Ben Parr live streaming on Periscope in an interview about Periscope with NBC today.

What About Those Trolls? 

Yes, there are a lot of trolls on both Meerkat and Periscope, but since Periscope is the newer platform and seemingly easier to use, there seem to be more on Periscope. The platform is still working out the kinks, but we already see ways to block spammers and trolls.


Finally as with anything Internet, there is likely to be a lot of unsavory content (think porn) on the platform since that’s what being able to both hide behind the screen and flaunt your wears facilitates.

Be careful who or what you’re watching and be aware of trolls, but my advice to anyone wanting to share a story, breaking news, event or skill in real time is definitely to try a live streaming and/or citizen journalism app. And definitely have them available to you incase you find yourself being the first to report a story.

We used to say “News doesn’t break, it tweets.” Will we soon be saying “News doesn’t break, it’s live streaming now”?

Best Practices for live streaming:

  1. Acknowledge and thank people who have joined your live feed to watch. Actually say thank you while you are recording your video. People love to hear the sound of their own name and when it is being broadcast live, it sounds even better.
  2. Ask questions of your audience and respond to them. Remember that this is another opportunity to build a community around your specific topic of interest. Start a conversation.
  3. Be useful and helpful. Remember Jay Baer‘s “Help Not Hype” mantra.
  4. Offer ways for people to share and participate in the conversation. Ask people to share and tweet the video either during (easiest on Meerkat) or after the broadcast is complete.
  5. Keep your content tasteful and valuable. Remember that content is always going to be king, frequency is queen and entertainment is the jack of all parades!
  6. Make sure you have something worth watching. A little planning before you start broadcasting could go a long way. Think about how you are going to appear, where the camera will be and what you are going to say.
  7. Have a catchy headline/title for your video. Headlines still rule and your hook must still hook.

What kinds of things are working for you on Periscope or Meerkat? What are your favorite things to watch? Who are your top broadcasters? Do you think live streaming will change the way we interact with the world? Please include your thoughts in the comments below.

5 Mobile Trends to Watch in 2012

To no one’s surprise, smart phone usage continues to grow rapidly. In a recent webinar, Emarketer.com projected that smart phones, tablets and e-readers will each increase in consumer popularity by 7-8% in 2012. Below are the top 5 mobile trends to watch this year.

1. There’s an App for That!

There are so many apps now, in fact, that developers will have an increasingly difficult time getting their work noticed. 2012 will be the year of App Market Saturation and only the best—the highly engaging and usable—will rise to the top.

Gartner’s Top 10 Smart Phone App Categories for 2012:

  1. Money Transfer Apps
  2. Location-Specific Services
  3. Mobile Searching Facilities
  4. Mobile Browsing Facilities
  5. Mobile Health Monitoring
  6. Mobile Payment Services
  7. Near Field Communication Services
  8. Mobile Advertising Services (This is listed since it is the means for mobile apps becoming profitable)
  9. Mobile Instant Messaging
  10. Mobile Music

2. Where are you?

If you have a smart phone, chances are you are already using location-based services such as mobile coupons and check-in services. Last year, 55% of smart phone users utilized location-based recommendations and services. In 2012, expect to see more from these services including an increase in time-sensitive deals, a rise in effort among these companies to gain customer loyalty, and an increase in advertising within these services.

3. Pay with Your Phone

Get ready for your smart phone to double as your credit card, too! Apps such as Square and Google Wallet, which are designed for mobile payment, will become increasingly available in 2012 though most likely will not go mainstream this year.

4. Video Killed the Radio Star

You already watch a lot of videos on YouTube and Vimeo, right? In 2012, video is the latest game-changer. Emarketer.com predicts that spending on video advertising will surpass $3 billion this year and that this genre of advertising will have the broadest reach of all ad formats. The online video audience is expected to grow 18% this year.

5. Mobile Search

TechCrunch recently reported Ross Sandler’s estimate that mobile search volume will increase from 9% to 20% of all searches. Local ads will generate a sizable portion of the mobile search ad revenue. Do you run a local business? Now is the time to jump into mobile advertising.

What is your favorite mobile trend? We invite you to join the conversation in the comments section below!

Sleep your way to the top (in 4 minutes and 11 seconds)

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been sleeping a lot in 2011 and it feels really good. I hope 2011 is the year of sleeping your way to success, well ahem… literally that is. Sleep is important. Here’s Arianna Huffington’s take on it. (And if she’s not successful I’ll eat my pillow!)

How much sleep is best for you? Do you see benefits to sleeping more or sleeping less? Please share your comments below.

When you love what you do…

When you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work. In fact it feels more like being on vacation. Last week I was on vacation in Salt Lake City Utah. I was snowboarding at a fabulous resort called Snowbird. Snowboarding Snowbird! Lucky me indeed!

I snowboarded for three days and then took a day off from vacation to get some work done. If work is work for you, you’re probably thinking I’m crazy, but if you really love what you do, you understand the meaning of work being fun. When work is fun and fulfilling it makes you smile, it’s motivating, it can make you laugh and feel happy. Admittedly I was a bit concerned that I enjoyed my day off from vacation so much, but then I looked at this video created by Click to Play Media and saw how happy this work makes me.

Susan Barnes snowboarding at Snowbird, Utah

The video came out of an opportunity to consult with a very interesting start-up called iConfident. The make dental implant software to help dental professionals improve communication, build loyalty, and grow their practice. We looked at their website in terms of search engine optimization and discussed social media opportunities. Susby was collaborating with Click to Play Media who graciously produced this one minute video about Susby in the process. I think you can tell that how much fun it was. On days like this I really love my job.

BIG thank yous to Anna, Brad and Stephanie at Click to Play Media and also to Rob, Robbie and Karoline of iConfident for allowing us to shoot.

My advice to you if you’re not enjoying what you do: Find a way to play more. Do something that makes you smile, i.e. Do what you love, the money will follow. Connect, collaborate and start some conversations. The world revolves around relationships and communication and both are equally important.

Are you working or playing?

YouTube Power

Video can be a very effective way to inform your customers and potential customers about your product.

I recently consulted with a very interesting company called iConfident in San Francisco’s Northbeach neighborhood.  They create web-based software, which enables dentists and dental professionals to collaborate and communicate with great ease on things like dental implant parts.

I was working with them as part of a new venture with Click To Play Media and I was extremely impressed to learn of the success of a video produced by Click To Play Media, which has helped iConfident increase referrals by 70%.  By adding the video to their “tell-a-colleague” form, they found that 70% more doctors and dentists were likely to send the referral along to their colleagues for a free trial as opposed to when there was no video.  That is a huge difference.

So why is video so effective?  Because the moving image is the closest thing to real life.  If a video is well done, it can tell a story in a much shorter amount of time than it would take someone to read a description and it is easier to digest, because it is inherently entertaining and interesting.  If you think about it, with moving pictures and audio, you have a much richer experience and it is far easier to grasp the gist of the story or idea.  Since it’s more like You, you respond to it more quickly than plain text.

Click To Play Media captured testimonials of professionals using the product in a way that makes it easy for doctors who haven’t heard about the product understand the benefits and how iConfident can increase efficiency and save them money.

If you’re interested in creating a video for your company or product, please visit Click to Play Media and tell Anna you were referred by Susby.

Why Blog?

In his blog post for today, Seth Godin shares four videos about noice, social and decency and in the spirit of group genius, the power of the group and collective insight, Seth encourages his readers to vote for their favorite video. That’s a great way to get fans to watch all four videos, which are all worth the few minutes they take. My favorite since I just finished teaching my Internet Marketing Now: New Tools & Trends class for the summer at SFSU is the “Seth Godin and Tom Peters on Blogging” video embedded below.

Quoting from the video:

“Blogging is free. It doesn’t matter if anyone reads it. What matters is the humility that comes from writing it. What matters is the metacognition of thinking about what you’re going to say. How do you explain yourself […] How do you force yourself to describe in three paragraphs why you did something? How do you respond outloud?

If you’re good at it, some people are going to read it. If you are not good at it and you stick with it, you’ll get good at it. […] Force yourself to become part of the conversation, [because] that posture change, changes an enormous amount.” — Seth Godin

“No single thing in the last 15 years professionally has been more important to my life than blogging.” — Tom Peters, Best Selling Author, Management Visionary

And it is indeed free!

What is a Browser?

This is a fun inquiry into whether people really know what a browser is from Google. It’s incredible how ubiquitous the browser has become. People have the same kind of incomprehension about how the Internet really works as they do about electricity and phone service. “It works, I use it, I like it, but don’t ask me what it is.”

I also find it interesting that people love to be on video, and how few people know about Google’s Chrome.  Is this Google’s way of spreading the word?

How To Get Attention

  1. Do something different, be unique.
  2. Be funny, entertain me.
  3. Shock with your talent, your _____, your downright boldness, baby!
  4. Be real, be you and really show me who you are, because until you do, you’re just like everyone else and I’m tuning out.

When I first saw a funny flight safety announcement I was in awe at the creativity and courage it took the flight attendant to put on such a show, all in the name of flight safety, but guess what, people listened.  People heard the message instead of ignoring it as usual and people took off on that plane with a good understanding of how to be safe.

Check out this example and tell me you wouldn’t listen. The fact that it is a Southwest employee is interesting and that is something for another blog post (think case study) coming soon.


A Conversation Starter

I often show this video in my classes as an introduction to how far we have come with the Internet and digital media. The movie is from 2007, so you could say it’s old news, but many of the concepts are still important to consider as you venture into “new” media.

As video producer, Michael Wesch, Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology Kansas State University says, “This video explores the changes in the way we find, store, create, critique, and share information. This video was created as a conversation starter, and works especially well when brainstorming with people about the near future and the skills needed in order to harness, evaluate, and create information effectively.”

It’s a favorite of mine. Enjoy!