How To: Go Viral Like Rap Videos ‘Yoga Girl’ and ‘Whole Foods Parking Lot’


Pop culture artists Fog and Smog give new meaning to the term “friends with benefits.” The cutting-edge film and music industry entourage combined talent and pooled resources all in the name of fun and friendship.

The result: Two of this year’s iconic videos spoofing the lifestyles of organic food shopping and yoga in LA.

The duo uploaded the Whole Foods Parking Lot video in June. As of today it tops the YouTube Charts at 3 million plus views. The most recent production ‘Yoga Girl’ is just a few weeks to market and it is already pushing 500,000 views.

They must be super heroes when it comes to search engine optimization, you might be thinking … not a chance. It’s all “earned clicks.”

“To be honest, the fun of the Whole Foods thing, and also Yoga Girl is the fact that we didn’t use any super fancy special techniques. We focused on doing the work well, having fun, making something we really liked a lot … and people shared it,” says David “DJ Dave” Wittman, composer, film-maker and the rapper who is responsible for some of the chanting  lyrics. “‘Earned clicks’ is what I’ve learned they’re called.”

If you are one of the millions of viewers who played the Whole Foods Parking Lot video, chances are you can relate.

So, you want to make a video go viral …

Just how do you make a video go viral?

“You don’t, you do something creative, if it is right and creative, it will work,” says DJ Dave.

YouTube agrees, sort of.

“50% of the work is making a great video and the other 50% is what you do when you upload it,” Ryan Nugent of YouTube’s Next Up Lab told guests at a YouTube Partner Meet up in New York this year.

And that is exactly what happened to DJ Dave and crew. How did the Yoga Girl video come to fruition? It started out with a funny song and a few email exchanges; later the song turned into making a video spoof.

His words of viral wisdom after the upload.

“Share it on YouTube and Facebook with friends, see if people like it,” says DJ Dave. “If you love and enjoy what you do, that’s what resonates.”

But online public relations and marketing experts remind us:

You might have the best content on the planet, but nobody will see it if you haven’t optimized it for discovery. Whole Foods Parking Lot and Yoga Girl might be the exception to that rule, but even the most creative and viral videos have room for improvement.

The Up Dog Down Dog on Meta Data
Here are some pointers that will help you set the stage for viral videos.

Keep your titles interesting and also keyword rich. Give the searcher an idea of what they can find inside the video before they click. Brands often make the mistake of being too “me, me, me” and front load a video with a brand name instead of more of a description that is creative, catchy and interesting. Be strategic with keywords and creative at the same time!

Current Title: Yoga Girl – Music Video
Improved Title: Yoga Girl Rap Music Video by Fog and Smog Films

Mix it up with common and specific words and a good YouTube practice is to front load the tags with the same priority as the Title. So for the Yoga Girl example, if the title is ‘Yoga Girl – Music Video’ then the keywords should be listed in the tags in that order ‘yoga, girl, music, video.’

The YouTube description should use as many relative keywords phrases as possible and make sure to be consistent with the Title and Tags. Keep in mind the first two lines are the only ones that show with the video, so pay special attention to make those count! An inside tip from YouTube Partner experts suggest creating an “SEO Tagline”—two or three sentences that describe your video—that you can copy-paste into all of your video descriptions. Why reinvent the SEO wheel with each description, make it once and make it awesome, let the optimizing begin.
The Yoga Girl description could be a stretch more optimized with the first two sentences being more of a description of what you are getting versus to download the ringtone, instrumental, a capella, submit a remix, and get more info.

Unless you’re a YouTube Partner, you can’t customize your thumbnail. But you can pick from the three that YouTube offers. Make sure to pick one that best represents your video for maximum visual story telling. I like the thumbnail Fog and Smog picked because you can see that it is probably not a yoga class video and it has that rap look with a zen Namaste shirt.

Once a viewer finds your video on YouTube, annotations can be used to direct them to your other videos as well as to get people to subscribe, favorite and comment on your video. Yoga Girl could end the video with a message … It would be cool if to follow us on Twitter.

Video Responses
When you launch a new video, you can use a video response at the end of your last video. For example, at the end of Whole Foods Parking Lot video, a video response or annotation can be added to watch the latest video Yoga Girl. More play, better visibility.

Let’s Be Real
Top tier media coverage from Huffington Post, Wall Street Journal and NPR is always helpful in getting good viral karma! But that also does not come easy and can’t always be controlled with a magic PR wand. It takes creativity and a good story. Go, Yoga Girl!

Follow Fog and Smog on Twitter to catch the next viral video.


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