I’m not crazy about the term viral video. It’s over-used and misused. I’ve talked a lot recently about why I like the term ‘Shared Media,’ but whatever you call it, the trend of massively viewed online video is real. We’ve seen all sorts of video become popular this way – from comic dancing to drumming gorillas; from Drama Queens (NSFW) to geographically-challenged beauty queens. But for my money, The Battle at Kruger is the best piece of shared video ever. Not familar with The Battle at Kruger? Take a couple of minutes and watch this:
Yes, amazing video, but why do I think it’s the best? It has so many elements of classic storytelling:
You feel like you’re in the car with the rest of the witnesses, part of their conversations. Very few videos give you that ‘you are there’ feeling.
It has classic narrative plot structure
You meet the protagonist, the antagonist is then introduced, followed by a surprise third party. The drama continues to build until it looks like our hero will perish, only for a dramatic turn of events at the last moment.
Crocodiles? A water buffalo fightback? No way you saw those things coming. By the end I was ready Ninja Giraffes. Unpredictability really is one of the key factors, and often an overlooked one, when brands create online video content. Content that makes viewers say, “Whoa, I didn’t see that coming!” is the type that gets shared.
Make a funny song video and somebody else can make one too. Got an adorable kid throwing a wiffle ball at his daddy’s groin? Get in line. But Battle at Kruger is a virtually unrepeatable, unbeatable piece of footage. Can you imagine a more remarkable piece of “found” footage?
Alright, here’s what really separates Battle at Kruger from the rest of the popular videos for me. No staged comedy bits, no CGI trickery, no scripted dialoague. The reactions of the witnesses are real, and the actions of the animals are life & death-real. No professional voice-over, no slick editing. Kids bouncing their eyebrows, keyboard playing cats, even Susan Boyle’s performance has a staged element to it.
So before you commit to spending thousands of dollars on your ‘viral video,’ keep in mind the elements that will appeal to viewers and connect with them emotionally.