The accidental video sensation: Or, how I learned to quit worrying and love YouTube

Now that Karine Joly has told all her readers about my secret YouTube guerrilla marketing tactic, it’s time I shared the real story of this amazingly popular video. (Popular in terms of hits, that is. The ratings? Not so much.)

That’s not some surrealist short-short art film you’re viewing. It’s actual science. And it’s gotten 82,000 hits over the past year.

Karine included this video in her recent list of five things to do before you post your video on YouTube. It was No. 5 on the list — a surprise that Karine posted as a joke. But hey, I’m from the any-publicity-is-good-publicity school of PR, so I’m okay with it. Linkage is linkage.

“If you’re looking to generate some big numbers in terms of page views,” Karine wrote, “make your video very short and difficult (impossible) to understand at first sight.”

If I had only known back then that this video of a piece of aerogel being struck by a bullet would get so many visits, I would have included some dramatic background music (a la dramatic chipmunk) and promoted it more heavily. But the real reason I posted that video (and the less popular but slightly more comprehensible sequel, Shattered! conventional armor-grade PMMA hit by projectile) was to add some multimedia to a post on our research blog, Visions, about the researcher who won a nanotechnology award for his work with aerogels. The video was provided by the professor. There’s nothing professional about it. It’s just a record of an experiment.

Who knew it would become an accidental YouTube sensation, discovered by none other than Karine Joly? The vid has been played more than 82,000 times this past year. Granted, it isn’t exactly this:

“Dramatic chipmunk” has gotten 8.8 million views and countless 5-star ratings during its time. It’s the pinnacle of short viral videos to which all web 2.0 filmmakers aspire.

But, my aerogel video is not just entertainment. It’s serious science. It’s been discussed and shared on serious science blogs. Still, if it makes people scratch their heads and leave lots of wtf comments, that’s okay by me. As long as they’re watching.

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Now playing: Elvis Costello & the Attractions – Accidents Will Happen
via FoxyTunes

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Author: andrewcareaga

Higher ed PR and marketing guy. Communications director for Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) in Rolla, Missouri, USA. Slow runner, mediocre guitarist, lover of music and puns, and an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan. I blog and Tweet about #highered, #music, #gocards and #random stuff.

1 thought on “The accidental video sensation: Or, how I learned to quit worrying and love YouTube”

  1. Andrew Careaga makes science entertaining! Where do I sign up for the class!

    Lol… you probably had 81,000 people watch it going WTF and the other thousand for more specific reasons… :)

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