Can Viral Videos Be Repeated?

The nature of viral videos is that they are usually quirky and come out of nowhere. They somehow capture the zeitgeist of the Web and often involve dancing. But can the success of a viral video be repeated with a sequel? After all, these often don’t have brand-name stars or big marketing budgets. The conventional wisdom is that they are one-shot wonders. However, if a video gets big enough, it can become its own promotional vehicle for follow-on videos.

Take the example of Evolution Dance, the second most popular video of all time on YouTube. It has been viewed 112 million times since April, 2006. It shows motivational speaker Judson Laipply going through a medley of dance moves culled from the past few decades. I personally find it hard to watch all the way through, but it obviously holds a fascination for many people out there. So much so that Laipply decided to upload a sequel, Evolution of Dance 2 (embedded below).

The sequel has only been on YouTube for three weeks since January 9, 2009. Yet it has already drawn more than 3 million views. In an analysis of the sequel’s growing popularity, Visible Measures notes that Evolution Dance 2 is gaining 190,000 views a day. This actually surpassed the 130,000 views per day that the original was getting.

Except something interesting happened once the sequel took off. Views of the original video shot up to more than 240,000 a day. Since the videos are related, they show up in the “related videos” box for both videos. The popularity of the first seeds the audience for the second. As the second grows in popularity and people discover it from other sources on the Web, they then click on the original video. It is a virtuous cycle.

And this doesn’t seem to be an isolated case. The original Where The Hell Is Matt? video, which shows a guy doing the same dance in different locales around the world, has been viewed 12.6 million times since it was first uploaded in June, 2006. (Second video embedded below). The sequel, Where The Hell Is Matt (2008)? has surpassed the original with 17.4 million views on YouTube since June, 2008.

Who says Internet fame is fleeting?