Six years ago, before my daughter was even born, my wife and I seized on the opportunity to spend a week visiting my best friend at his home in Puerto Rico. As usual, I took along my video camera, and upon returning home to Atlanta, I cut together a little vacation video so as to have something to watch and remember as time goes on. This is usually where this story ends, but thanks to YouTube, this is where we begin.
In short, the six years since I posted this video online, it has generated over 500,000 views. Before I tell you how this happened, here’s the video:
The 4 Reasons Why This Video Went Viral
I’d like to think it’s because of my amazing ability to shoot, edit, and score a film all by my lonesome, but alas, here are the real reasons:
- The Video Thumbnail – Unlike Vimeo, YouTube grants far less control over your thumbnail choice. When this video was uploaded, YouTube would simply display the frame that fell at the exact middle of your video. Today, YouTube offers you options of frames taken at every 1/4 division. I thought it would be funny to highlight the sunburn my wife endured, so I made sure that scene fell right in the middle of the edit. Fortunately (or unfortunately) for me and my wife, the frame also looks like I might be taking OFF her bathing suit. It wasn’t long before this was brought to my attention, and my little vacation video might have attracted an initial audience because of it.
- The Video Title – “Puerto Rico!” has a built-in fan base, as do most location specific keywords. I wouldn’t be writing this post if I had titled it “My Amazing Vacation in An Amazing Country.” More people search on YouTube for “Puerto Rico” than “Amazing.”
- The Debate – At the time, I didn’t realize that my very presence as an American tourist in Puerto Rico carried a history of impassioned views and political stances. Puerto Rico’s current and historic relationship with the U.S. is not the subject of this blog post, but I encourage you to discover it for yourself. Needless to say, it wasn’t long before both pro- and anti-statehood voices appeared under the video and, as is the norm for YouTube, some comments got derogatory and mean while others were incredibly supportive. I made the personal decision that just because I didn’t fully understand the debate didn’t mean that I needed to shut off the comments, which YouTube will allow you to do. Thus, the debate has added more views to this video.
- It stayed online with a current message – As you can see by the metrics from the video below, it took almost a year before it received it’s first referral from another video, and then it was featured on the YouTube homepage after that. There’s a lesson here for the creation of video viral content. After an entire year the message of the video was still relevant. In fact, besides not being shot in HD, this video could easily be viewed today by someone who might not realize that it was shot so long ago.
I’d love to hear what you think of the video and if you have any other questions or ideas in the comments section below.