Recently, I was pulled over to another monitor in the office to watch a video. In our industry, that’s nothing out of the ordinary. But this video was different. There was no action. Full of people, yet no movement at all. In fact, one might wonder at first if the people in the video are even real. At first, my brain fought with the idea. It shouldn’t have been interesting. Why was I spending time watching people do nothing? But something about it kept my attention, like watching a train wreck in slow motion.
It was my first exposure to a mannequin challenge
If you haven’t heard of this new video phenomenon yet, don’t worry- its roots trace back a whopping six weeks, to early October. Six years in viral internet time. But in that short span of time, the mannequin challenge is sweeping the internet, coming soon to a social media feed near you (if it hasn’t already). And it’s been embraced by everyone from Hillary’s presidential campaign team to Blac Chyna capturing the moment she was in the delivery room giving birth. In just two weeks, the brief Instagram video has been viewed nearly 6 million times.
It reportedly began with some students in Jacksonville, Florida, who got some exposure with some major news outlets after the video started going viral. Headlines now suggest that it’s the “next big thing,” or giving people their sci-fi outlet, as similar effects were wildly popular in movies such as the The Matrix and X-Men.
Pulling off a mannequin challenge video is fairly simple
A mannequin challenge is a scene set with any number of people all frozen in time as the camera weaves through them. Pick an interesting scene and freeze everyone in a particular moment in time, complete with facial expressions. If you can make it look like they’re defying gravity, even better. Filming is easy, just walk the camera through the scene to reveal each of the people. Often, the video is accompanied by “Black Beatles,” a trending music track by Rae Sremmurd.
The idea of a different kind of video is certainly not new. Over the years, we’ve all become familiar with these types of trends as they come and go: the popular ALS ice bucket challenge, flash mobs, the Harlem Shake, or flipping water bottles, which first began by a high schooler performing in a North Carolina talent show.
It happened with Dollar Shave Club. It began with one simple video that was just different enough that people watched it over and over and shared it with their friends, making it wildly popular. In just five years, the company sold for $1 Billion.
How a virus spreads
One can’t help but wonder: what is it that causes a new trend to go viral? Virality is the illusive golden ticket of social media. It’s what every company ultimately wishes in the back of their mind will happen to an article, a post or a tweet. Because when something goes viral, it’s the ultimate bang for your buck. Imagine millions of views that required almost zero marketing cost. Essentially, there are two main parts.
First, a viral video has to strike an emotional chord of some sort (typically humor) and we know it helps to be different and new. But we’ve all seen many unique, well-done, hilarious videos with views topping off in the hundreds.
At the other end of the spectrum we find a silly video of one of a child reacting to being bitten by a sibling. Something you or I might chuckle at and scroll past without a second thought. Today, that video has over 844 million views and has spawned a host of reenactments, remixes, animated shorts and even a zombie version. Now that’s penetrating pop culture!
But there’s a second part of the viral formula that is out of your control: what happens after it’s posted. The right people with the right audiences must discover it at the right time and share or write about it to give it global exposure overnight. And if it’s a trend piece or a challenge, all the better.
So, back to the mannequin challenge. Knoodle wants to play, so we’re doing one of our own. Only, to give it a bit of a twist, rather than using a camera stabilizer (which is recommended), we’re using a dog, which helps give an entirely different perspective. Please enjoy as Bleu, our office dog, films knoodle’s first (and possibly only) mannequin challenge. Or, more appropriately, the “Dogequin Challenge.”
Like and share- maybe we can make it go viral