What Happens When Your YouTube Video Goes Viral?

In the last week over a million people have watched me prancing around in short shorts playing table tennis… How on earth did that happen?!

Bzzzzzzt. Bzzzzzt. Bzzzzt.

As I slowly gained consciousness, I blinked bleary eyed at my phone. 3am, the phone said. You have 10 new Facebook notifications.

A bit annoyed at being woken up I unlocked my phone and checked my messages. Someone I didn’t know had messaged me:

viral youtube reddit facebook

That’s pretty cool, I thought. We had spoken about posting something on Reddit but had never actually got round to it. The link said “88 points and 25 comments so far on reddit”. By the time I clicked over to the website it had grown to over 50 comments. I read through them all, refreshed the thread, and read through the new ones. Refreshed the thread again and repeat.

There was no going back to sleep and at 5:15am I text Ben.

viral youtube reddit

“Literally going mental! The video has gone from 8k views to 15k views. In like 4 hours.” Now that’s low expectations for you.

Four days later we had over a million views.

I remember being taught in school about critical mass. The idea is that you need a certain mass of material before the explosion of a nuclear bomb can be sustained. If you don’t have enough mass then it won’t get going and will just fizzle out. But once you hit the required mass it explodes, growing under it’s own power.

That’s what this video felt like. The video had been live for a little over a month, but never reached critical mass. We had slowly built up to 8,000 views but that wasn’t enough mass and momentum for it to explode.

That Reddit thread pushed it past that point of critical mass. When Ben got up in the morning there were a bunch of emails waiting for him from various media agencies and news sites, some asking to do interviews, a couple trying to buy the rights for the video and even one asking us to go on Swedish television.

The video only had about 50,000 views at this point but it seems that because most of those views were in such a short space of time, it had been picked up my some computer algorithms and journalists. I kind of imagine they were thinking something along the lines of:

“If this has got so popular in such a short space of time it must be good. Maybe our audience will like it too. We need to get involved because if this goes huge we don’t want to miss out!”.

It didn’t take long for the Reddit exposure to die off. We were the number one video for about 5 hours, but by the end of that day we were buried deep on like the 15th page. Reddit was responsible for about 150,000 of our views. At the time I was thinking, oh well as soon as Reddit is over that’s it. That’s the end of our moment in the sun.

That’s not what happened. Instead that critical mass had been reached and lots of other website started posting it as well. We did a couple of interviews, but 90% of the articles were done without our knowledge.

It was pretty exciting. For the next few days I would keep being tagged on Facebook in articles that I didn’t even know existed.

viral youtube video collage expert in a year

As the Reddit traffic slowed down the traffic from the other sites started building. The below graph shows the traffic from some of our biggest referrers. The blue line is our embedded Reddit traffic, the dark red is from Mashable, the light green is Smoosh and the Orange is Digg.

You can see that the traffic from Mashable, the second biggest referrer, didn’t start until the Reddit views were pretty much all over.

viral youtube analytics expert in a year

The top 5 referrers only counted for about 400,000 of the views. Where did the rest come from? All over the place is the answer.

Here is the YouTube Analytics list of all the places that referred at least 5,000 people to the video:

ReferrerViews
reddit.com157,769
embedly.com94,666
External Apps93,517
Direct91,238
mashable.com88,567
smosh.com52,847
digg.com34,182
huffingtonpost.com32,709
koreus.com32,535
yonkis.com32,076
joemonster.org31,108
facebook.com26,194
notengotele.com22,459
finofilipino.org15,840
testosteronasports.blog.br15,096
brobible.com12,877
bestofyoutube.com12,434
cheezburger.com11,277
Youtube Official Channel10,092
shockmansion.com10,056
devour.com9,786
tabletennisdaily.co.uk7,998
uol.com.br7,571
telegrafi.com7,164
alfalfalfa.com6,962
onedio.com6,817
nuttaputch.com6,806
unknown6,519

So why did our video hit a million views? I’m putting it down to a bunch of journalists getting FOMO (fear of missing out).

How much money do you get from a million views on YouTube? What is a viral YouTube video worth?

Well so far I have no idea. You don’t make very much from the YouTube views themselves. We make even less as we need to split the revenue with the artist who made the background music (Goldroom). I expect we might get around $1-$2 dollars per thousand views. But that’s not really where the value is.

Much more importantly for us was the referred traffic and search engine optimisation benefits we got off the back of the video. Here is the traffic for the blog about the Expert in a Year challenge.

viral youtube experttabletennis stats

51,499 visitors! That’s 10% of the total visitors to the site in just one day. Even better, we expect that the site traffic will never drop to the level it was before the video went viral. If you’ve ever looked into search engine optimisation (getting your webpage to the top of Google), you will know that a lot of it is about having hyperlinks pointing to your website from reputable sites. Well with all these videos we now have 100 odd very good quality links. Plus all the social media links.

This Arbing site has benefited as well, the post quickly became my most read article, surpassing the next one by a factor of three.

What will the long term benefit be? How many views will the video eventually build up? Well we’re only a week in so we’ll have to wait for time to tell.

Once we have collated all the stats and can compare our income before and after the video I will write another post with all the details. Make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss it.

In the meantime we have launched www.expertinayear.com, with the aim to capitalise off the momentum of our viral YouTube video. We want it to become the go to place to see people achieve amazing results in a short space of time.

Do you have any experience with viral videos? What was it like? Was it similar to ours?

  • Muriel Muyres

    Yes, something like this?

    Human and bee interaction

    https://youtu.be/EIXAbJmrmOI

  • drprashant shetty

    but i like to have my youtube videos to cross a 1,00,000 views and start earning money so that i can make more videos and i and my animator friends wants to make more animation videos