What Makes OK Go Videos Go Viral Every Time?

OK Go has taken YouTube by storm over the last few years. They’ve got over 105 million views on their channel, 7 music videos with millions of views each, and the 84th most popular YouTube video of all time. Every time they upload a new music video to the web it goes viral within a matter of hours. So how do they do it?

OK Go started their history with YouTube four years ago, in 2006. The first video they uploaded, a music video for their song ‘A Million Ways’ of them doing a choreographed dance in the backyard, did pretty well. But their real YouTube fame began with their video for ‘Here It Goes Again’. I’m sure you’ve seen it. It’s the one where they dance on treadmills. It’s been viewed over 53 million times and is the 84th most popular YouTube video of all time. You can click to watch it here.

Since their success with ‘Here It Goes Again’, OK Go has released a number of other awesome music videos on YouTube, all quickly surpassing the million-view mark. There’s their amazing Rube Goldberg Machine video for ‘This Too Shall Pass’, their ‘White Knuckles’ video starring tons of adorable dogs, a marching band, stop motion in the park, and most recently, toast!

I’ve done a lot of thinking about what it is that makes OK Go so viral (aside from the fact that they’re just plain awesome, of course). I have come up with four main reasons:

Great Music

For one, OK Go has got great music. It’s catchy, it makes you want to dance and it’s overall pretty much “happy making” music. If they were a crappy band they’d get a whole lot less views, even with the same visuals. But of course, great music isn’t everything, and that’s where the next points come in.

Unparalleled Originality

One of the biggest factors in OK Go’s success is their originality. Every single one of their videos is like nothing that has ever been done before. Nobody danced on treadmills before OK Go; nobody did a one-shot video of choreographed dogs before OK Go; nobody covered themselves in wallpaper before OK Go, nobody made a crazy Rube Goldberg machine music video before OK Go; and nobody every did stop motion animation on toast. You get the point. Each and every video that they come out with is completely original, completely surprising, and completely awesome.

Check out their new toast animation for ‘Last Leaf’ below. It was made with 2,430 pieces of laser-etched toast!


Minimalism, Simplicity & Low Budget

The other thing that’s great about OK Go’s videos is their minimalism and low budget. Their first video was just a single shot of them dancing to ‘A Million Ways’ in their backyard. Anyone with a video camera could create something like that. I think that when you bring your production level down to the dirt cheap, anyone can do it level, and still manage to create something great then that says a lot.

With the exception of the Rube Goldberg machine video, most of the videos are really simple, with most of the complexity being the choreography. Most of the videos don’t even require any editing, as they are done in a single take.

Of course, I’m not saying that OK Go’s videos are so simple that anybody could make them. They require a lot of planning, a lot of practicing choreography, a lot of time and a heck of a lot of creativity. But the fact that the videos don’t feature million dollar cars, huge expensive sets, and other monster expenses bring OK Go down to more of a human level which I think appeals to a lot of viewers. Click here to check out their original dancing video.

Promotion Promotion Promotion

Finally, OK Go really knows how to promote themselves. Aside from letting fans know about their new videos on their Myspace page and Twitter account, they also promote themselves on their website.

And they don’t just tell people about their new videos, they hold fun contests to promote them. They held a remix contest for ‘White Knuckles’, they promoted the release of their ‘End Love’ video with a contest giving the Facebook user that shared the video and accrued the most likes and comments an engraved iPad from the band, and a make-your-own Rube Goldberg Machine contest to promote their awesome ‘This Too Shall Pass’ video. Check out OK Go’s Rube Goldberg Machine, and one of the most-viewed contest entries below!

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