The purpose of a viral video is simple: it gets people to talk about it, both online and offline.
This disposition grows exponentially when a video is passed on to friends through social network applications such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and blogs. These portals have dramatically enhanced the ability of users to share and discuss videos or images that either tickle their funny bone or make them want to bang their head against the wall.
The YouTube ban in Pakistan has not diverted users from sharing unusual videos that are surfing around on the internet. Many users have bypassed the minor blockage of YouTube to blogs that discuss the videos that are hard to miss. Blogs have become a significant online network through which Pakistani users can find the most shared videos and images.
Taher Shah’s Eye to Eye
One such video that has really made waves on the viral landscape is ‘Eye To Eye’ by Taher Shah:
A response to Eye to Eye on ‘The News’ website was shared by over 4814 people, specifically 351 Facebook shares and 81 tweets.
The review was unsurprisingly followed by the launch of a parody Facebook page abundant with user generated content in the form of memes and more links to the video. All this buzz has resulted in Mr. Shah’s popularity skyrocketing in a very short time span.
One Pound Fish
A similar level of fame was attained by Muhammad Shahid Nazir in 2012. Commonly know as the One Pound Fish guy, Nazir gained popularity for the song he sang promoting his fish stall in London.
£1 Fish Man – One Pound Fish – O-Fish-Al Video by Leroidukitch
Nazir’s Facebook page is followed by over 33,000 fans and was active till this January.
When Brands Cash in on a Viral Trend
An interesting aspect about fame found by ‘odd’ means is that the ‘artist’ often gets noticed by major brands. Some brands even sign endorsements such as PTCL, who got Muhammad Shahid Nazir on board for their Landline Link campaign (sung to the tune of One Pound Fish, of course).
More recently, Mobilink’s official Facebook page shared this image featuring Taher Shah. However, it was deleted within a few minutes so it is unconfirmed whether or not this was an official celebrity endorsement deal.
Why Do Videos Go Viral?
Discourse around viewing a video that one loves or hates is a natural social instinct. Like One Pound Fish, Eye to Eye has also managed to hit platinum on the viral video chart. It was uploaded just two months ago and has already become one of the most talked about videos online.
It brings forth the question: what makes the video so share-able? What caused this video to transpire a phenomenal social wave of interaction? In fact various elements have been argued and deduced by scholars on the matter of viral videos and their ability to create a large social dialogue. The main conclusions are that videos go viral when they are specific to pop culture and have a combination of irony and hilarity.
It is widely recognized that viral videos are epidemic in nature for 18–25 year olds. This age group is the driving force in multi-sharing a video with a friend, colleague, acquaintance or relative.
The combination of irony and hilarity in Eye to Eye is quite easy to understand. It’s ironic because the love song is anything but genuinely romantic. The hilarity is the ambiance of the whole video: the glamorous background, the flashing lights and the constant close up on the ‘spectrum’ eyes.
Viral videos form a connection between social media users. They provide a passage for sharing opinions on a well-known article, image or video, even if it’s not informative. When the Eye to Eye sensation dies down, what could possibly come next?