Although the content of viral videos is the subject of most academic studies, I am much more interested in the social dynamics that cause videos to become viral in the first place. Jessica Owens of Pulsar Platform lays out a framework of what potential drivers exist for people to share videos.
Social Currency: This is the concept that people believe that the content they share is a reflection of themselves. Therefore, they would pick content to share that makes them look intelligent, cool, creative, different, or whatever image they want to give off
Triggers: Big influencers like celebrities, news sites, or blogs are huge contributors to the spread of videos. Because they have such wide networks, the videos are able to reach many more people initially.
Emotion: Videos that make the viewers feel something – either positively or negatively – are generally more shared than videos that are neutral. These videos spark conversation because of the emotion they give off.
Public: When people see content from somebody they trust in their network, they are more likely to click, watch, and share it. People trust their close friends and family to share content that they will be interested in.
Owens also establishes a framework for uploaders to measure their own video performance. She splits the performance metrics into content metrics and audience metrics. Content metrics include: total YouTube views, lifespan, shares (through Twitter or Facebook analysis), variability (how did attention vary from day to day). Audience metrics include popularity (# of unique users sharing the video over its lifetime), amplification (how influential were the people who shared the video), globality (was the video just in America or did it receive global attention), and diffusion network (groups or hubs that contributed to the spread of the video). I believe these metrics could help me come up with my own framework for analyzing the lifecycles of videos.
Owens, Jessica. “How Stuff Spread Viral Video Webinar”. Pulsar Platform. 11 Jul 2013. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/Facegroup/how-stuff-spreads-viral-video-webinar.