What’s Viral This Second, and Why

 

It may be hard to predict what will go viral, but one way to gauge what might have some success with young online audiences is to look at content that has set the web on fire in the past, and try to understand exactly what the appeal was. Playing copycat is not the goal, but if the core of the allure can be replicated, you might have a better chance of hitting it big. Here are some of the things that are going viral as you read this post, and why they might be capturing clicks. 

 

1. Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise

This marketing video for the upcoming Carrie remake takes place in a simple coffee shop, has a fairly innocuous name, and reveals that it’s a prank right off the bat—and it has gotten over 17 million views since being posted on YouTube Monday. (Yes, that's just two days ago Monday.) The clip shows the entire set up of the hoax, including the actors involved rehearsing and high-fiving, at its start before showing the reactions of the bystanders in the coffee shop as they witness an angry girl throw a grown man up against the wall through “telekinisis” (a la Carrie, of course).
 
The Appeal: ”Prankvertising” 
Whether due to their exposure to Punk’d during their formative years, or (more likely) because they crave moments of surprise and unexpected excitement, Millennials have a real love for a good old-fashioned prank—or, as the bar continues to be raised, a perfectly executed, high-stakes, special-effects-laden stunt. Entertainers have been taking advantage of this prank-appeal for some time: Jimmy Kimmel regularly racks up views and buzz by encouraging his audience to prank their loved ones in his YouTube challenges, or, in the case of his recent “Twerk Fail” prank, pulling one over on pretty much all of America. It was only a matter of time before pranking…

 
 

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The Newsfeed

“Most of the role models and leaders in my life have been Gen Xers so far."

–Male, 16, WI

Instagram has reached 700 million active users, and its growth has been speeding up. The app hit the new user mark just four months after reaching 600 million, and the introduction of Instagram stories in August may be a major contributor to its accelerated growth. The feature has a reported 200 million daily active users compared to Snapchat’s 161 million. Overall, Instagram now has twice the user base of Twitter and is quickly approaching the coveted 1 billion user mark that Facebook, WhatsApp, and Messenger have reached. (TechCrunch)

Millennials are using social media and YouTube to decide what to buy. A U.K. study found 32% of 18-24-year-olds are using social media to research their purchase decisions before checking out, and 25% are using video platforms like YouTube. There are also signs they’d like to search for products on social media: 25% of U.K. 18-24-year-olds reported the desire to search media based on their lifestyle and 23% would like search to understand their current mood. These findings, paired with the detailed targeting available to advertisers, are changing the consumer journey from search query to cart. (AdvertisingWeek)

Millennials are keeping 70% of their money in cash, reluctant to invest in anything, from stocks to their own retirement plans—according to new BlackRock research. Clearly impacted by the Great Recession, Millennials are most likely to agree, "What you might earn investing isn't worth the risk of losing your money," and a third say “they learned what not to do with their money” from watching their parents. They also tend to undervalue the potential returns of investments by millions of dollars, which is not good news for their futures—at their current rate, most Millennials will have less than $1 million saved for retirement. (TheStreet)

Influencer marketing is proving its worth. Though marketers have worried about determining ROI with the approach, one report is claiming it’s more effective than advertising alone, showing a direct lift in results rates of up to 30%. Across 450 influencers and 11 campaigns, the expansive research compared results from consumers exposed to ads featuring influencers versus control groups, overwhelmingly showing increased action when an influencer was involved. Good news for marketers, who spent $570 million on influencer marketing on Instagram alone last year. (Adweek)

The Amazon Echo can now help pick your outfit—and tell you when you don’t look good. LED lights and a depth-sensing camera will let the new Echo Look take pictures of any look, and “Style Check” software “combines machine learning algorithms with advice from fashion specialists” to evaluate which outfit is best, and lets you compare pictures of multiple outfits, from multiple angles. Amazon’s already extensive product recommendations could feasibly be a part of this product’s future—and, if all goes well, a drone will ship the recommended new clothes to your door. (Quartz)

“I want to work for myself so that I can have more flexibility and be my own boss. I have an online business.”
—Female, 16, FL

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