How to create an online sensation

Here is the recap of the animated showdown between Conan O'Brien and Jay Leno that became a viral sensation a while ago (in Internet time).

The original content was one of the video reportings done by the Taiwanese branch of Apple Daily – its web address aptly named NextMedia – a Hong Kong based entertainmedia (or medientertainment) company. Think of The Sun with a turbo boost.

Apple Daily is loved by boys because of the photos of ladies in pseudo-birthday suits. It is loved by girls because of the endless shopping information and advertisements (including underwear). It is frowned upon by older citizens, especially schoolteachers, because according to them the contents are all sensational but no intellectual (someone should ask them: how do they know it?). In short, everybody reads knows it in Taiwan.

They make dozens of such videos on weekly basis and put them online. They have been doing it for years. But this time, that particular clip went beyond the Asian borders despite the language difference (the Chinese-dubbed original version was the one that caught fire). Boing Boing picked it up. Conan used it in his own program. CNN talked about it. People tweeted and facebook'ed the video. All within several days.

The obvious question we, the wannabe journalists/writers/celebrities, have is – How?

I think the answer lies in the prerequisite: they make dozens of them on weekly basis. We should stop thinking about SEO, networking, and utilizing social media for a while. That video tells us the hard truth on sticking out: stop being a marketing smart-ass and create something worthwhile like a monkey.

We can continue dwelling on the technological aspects – timing, graphics, narration, so on. We can lament on the fact that most of us do not belong to the inner circles or not hitting the jackpot. We shouldn't miss the whole point though – that video showed us vigorously that great contents transcend boundaries. We should be empowered instead, and get back to what we have been doing, or should do, each day.

But still, we want a clue, right? What that video embodies is curiously similar to what Google believes in. Here are Google's 10 Commandments. I marked the ones that are applicable to the aforementioned video. Seven. That says something.

  1. Focus on the user and all else will follow.
  2. It's best to do one thing really, really well.
  3. Fast is better than slow.
  4. Democracy on the web works.
  5. You don't need to be at your desk to need an answer.
  6. You can make money without doing evil.
  7. There's always more information out there.
  8. The need for information crosses all borders.
  9. You can be serious without a suit.
  10. Great just isn't good enough.

P.S. Here is another video about the Haiti earthquake done by the same creative force, prior to the above showdown video. Now you'll understand that it wasn't a one-time luck.