What makes a video go viral?

When people starting calling/texting/emailing me on Monday about Harvard baseball’s inspired version of “Call Me, Maybe,” I had a sense it might captivate people – but I didn’t predict how much. The video’s been picked up everywhere from Good Morning America to New York Daily News to Mashable, with views closing in on 880,000 at the time of posting. It’s hard to predict what catches people’s imagination, but there are a few elements of this video that makes it ripe for sharing:

  • Harvard as a brand captures people’s attention. Harvard in a online headline will dramatically increase page views, as journalists who cover education know. This video featured Harvard prominently but plays against Harvard stereotypes as well — it’s a bunch of guys on a decidedly unglamorous road trip, lipsyncing to pop music. They’re all wearing Harvard caps, but these are regular guys you might have gone to high school with, having a good time.
  • There’s a lot that’s visually unexpected in this video. It’s shot driving along a highway; there’s a seeming incongruity of the sise of the guys and the size of the van, and more of them keep popping up, Keystone cops-style.
  • Good God, this song is an earworm.
  • It’s funny, really funny. From the guy sacked out in the back left throughout to the use of a phone prop to the player with his head thrown back at 2:28 (“Baaaaby!”), this is hilarious choreography. Well done, Conner Hulse and crew.
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