Eight years ago, before YouTube even existed (hard to believe, huh?), Ghyslain Raza became famous around the world because a video of him on the Internet went viral.

Granted, it was the sort of fame he didn’t seek. The video depicted the then-high school teenager (he’s a law student now) wielding a golf club and spinning it around as if it was a double-bladed light sabre from the Star Wars movies.

His classmates got access to the video and distributed it online via peer-to-peer networks causing it to spread like wildfire via e-mail and forums.

His parents sued the classmates’ families and took the poor boy out of school to get psychiatric help. They settled out of court but Ghyslain remains locked in Internet history as the “Star Wars Kid”.

Last week, the Star Wars Kid made a comeback (probably not sanctioned) in the form of a parody of another teenager who probably wouldn’t mind a viral video or two.

The video was a parody of the trailer for teenage sensation Justin Bieber’s new movie (in 3D, no less!) called Never Say Never. You can watch the parody video here.

These days, many are creating videos hoping that they will go viral. These include companies hoping to sell a product, market a campaign or just talented individuals aspiring to be like Bieber, or Malaysia’s own Zee Avi, and get discovered on the Internet.

From the links shared on social networks like Facebook and Twitter daily, it would appear that it is quite easy for your video to go viral. After all, we watch so many new ones each day, right?

Wrong. There really is no formula to guarantee that a video goes viral. You may be the funniest person on Earth, or the most talented, but there’s no guarantee that the particular video will resonate with online users.

That said, the CEO of social video advertising company Sharethrough, Dan Greenberg, recently shared on social media blog Mashable three elements that a video needs to have to go viral: psychological share motivation, easy shareability and a data-driven strategy.

With the first point, he says that there are a few reasons why someone decides to share a video – emotions, identity and self-expression, as well as to share information. In short, this person needs to identify with the video; it’s not good enough to just have a well-shot one.

Easy shareability is self-explanatory and almost a given, considering how social the Internet has become over the last couple of years. Now, all you need to do is upload a video which fulfils the main criteria to YouTube and share it on Facebook, Twitter and your blog, and hope that people will pass it on (retweets also help).

The last point is probably one that is not often considered. While you have good content and great platforms to share, you also need to look at “distribution strategy”.

Greenberg suggests asking yourself: “What sites generate the highest amount of sharing for the type of content you are making? Which users? What time of day do they share content most often?”

Now, if you are hoping to create a viral video whether to get discovered, sell a concept or if you’re just attention seeking, those are some good advice to follow. Or you could watch some of these favourite viral videos I asked some fellow Twitterers to share.

Never Say No To The Panda

I don’t think this video – a video montage of a series of cheese commercials from Panda – was intended to make such an impact online but that goes to show that luck plays a part in getting your video viral.

Star Wars: A Tribute To John Williams

Corey Vidal, who features in this video was already an online video sensation but this “tribute” has to be the highlight of his YouTube. He lip-syncs to a song by a capella group Moosebutter but many who didn’t read the description to the video thought he was singing to it himself, and layering his voice over another.

Social Media Revolution

As part of the marketing strategy to sell his new book Socialnomics, author Erik Qualman released a video online which captured the growing trend of social media, complete with images, quotes and numbers.

The video was a hit, especially among public speakers, so much so that he updated it earlier this year with new statistics.

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