Going Viral…

On Saturday of last week I encouraged you to check out North Dakota Bois a video created by Ammon Miller and friends that parodies Katy Perry’s California Gurls on YouTube (see North Dakota Bois – now that’s hot!).  At the time the video was only a couple of days old (it originally posted on 8/12) and its number of views were modest.  I heard about it from a friend who posted the link on my Facebook page and enjoyed it so that I shared it on my blog.  I wasn’t alone in my enjoyment of the video – others picked it up and posted it or sent it to friends.

I have been checking daily on the video’s exposure. Early on, Ammon was excited to see that his video had received 6,000 views – which on YouTube for a typical user is a lot of views. Yesterday morning when I checked the views they were at a robust 336, 069.  Now, I must confess I have personally watched it at least a half dozen times – it is just so darn cute – but still, 336,069 views (and mind you it is likely more than that today) – that deserves a “WOW!!”

I have my students in my Preparedness class read a book by Malcolm Gladwell called The Tipping Point.  Gladwell’s book addresses how small things can make a big difference in moving ideas, trends or social behavior to the point where they spread like wildfire.  As I watch the number of views climb for Ammon’s video I wonder what we can learn from its popularity (aside from the fact that folks think it is funny).  If we could only harness this type of momentum in promoting other messages – like preparedness messages for instance – we could be much more effective in reaching our goal.  But how do you get something like this to go viral – to reach across age groups and continents?

I pulled the stats on the North Dakota Bois video and posted them here for you to see – they are very interesting.  The map shows viewing volume based on color – the darker the green the greater the viewing audience in that area.

This video is most popular with:

Gender Age
Female 13-17
Male 45-54
Male 35-44

The video honors change from day-to-day, but here are the honors I captured yesterday morning.  I wanted to share them so that you could see the reach of YouTube generally and the reach of Ammon’s video specifically.

Honors for this video (18)

It is absolutely wild to conceive that a simple video created by a recent high school graduate and his friends can reach across the globe in a matter of days.  Welcome to the future my friends – it has arrived.

The technology that exists today to spread information across the globe in mere seconds is amazing and is at everyone’s fingertips; but the ability to get folks to push the information forward is quite different – it is a phenomenon that we are still trying to get a handle on.  Ammon’s video has gone viral, but how did it happen exactly?  The small pushes from individuals coupled with the postings on Facebook had a significant impact.  It didn’t hurt that it landed on a Katy Perry site as well – apparently she has a following (who knew?).  But look at who the primary viewers are beyond the young girls – men ages 35-54 – very, very interesting.

I realize that most folks will watch this video once or twice, laugh and move on with their day without thinking too much more about it; but not me.  I will continue to marvel at how certain pieces of information can circle the globe with ease while others languish in anonymity (case in point FEMA’s most viewed YouTube video has less than 2,500 views and no doubt it only received that many based on the fact that it is only 42 seconds long – most of their other video views fall far below 500).  What can we learn from the success of North Dakota Bois that can help us reach more folks more quickly and efficiently in the future?  Perhaps Craig Fugate of FEMA needs to create his own parody of Katy Perry’s video – Emergency Management “Faux-ks”-  if you will and it will sound something like this:

Emergency management folks (faux-ks)
We’re so reliable
Khaki pants
With polos on top
Aging demographic
But hey
We’re crazy qualified
Oooooh oh oooooh

Emergency management folks (faux-ks)
We’re dedicated
Smart, savvy, strong
We know we’re all that
FEMA  represent
We’ve got our jackets on
Oooooh oh oooooh

Yeah…now that would be a FEMA video that would get more than 500 views to be sure…maybe Katy would even post it on her site.  😉

Day four hundred and eleven of the new forty – obla di obla da

Ms. C

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