Going Viral: Case Study, Walk Of The Earth and Larry Smith

While I was on the other side of the world in Hong Kong some incredible things happened back home that I wanted to talk about. A friend’s band, Walk Off The Earth (WOTE), had a video go viral (under statement) and Larry Smith, my Economics Professor from University had his TEDx talk go viral too. Two videos, two very different messages (rock band vs economic guru) but the same result. Why?

Walk Off The Earth on Ellen

One of my trusted creative partners, Doug Copping, sent me an online article by Marianne Cantwell that outlined why WOTE’s,’Somebody That I Use To Know’ went viral. I have since read the article 10 times as I think her analysis is spot on. Her points explain how videos go viral based off the example set by WOTE. I have included Larry Smith’s TEDx talk on ‘Why you will fail to have a great career’ to further prove her arguement. Let’s begin.

According to Wikipedia: A viral video is a video clip that gains widespread popularity through the process of Internet sharing, typically through email or Instant messaging, blogs and other media sharing websites.

4 Steps to Remarkable (read Marianne’s full article here)

Step 1. Do great work (average is not an option)
-WOTE has been creating videos of their own original work and covers of popular songs for a while. Lead man, Gianni Luminati not only produces great videos but he and his band bear the talents required to reach stardom.

-Larry Smith has been lecturing at UW since 1982 and is the “Recipient of the Distinguished Teacher Award”. He is also part of an economic consulting business called Essential Economics Inc. which provides market research to companies and government organizations. Larry advises several of his former students on business start-ups (including myself), the most famous of which is Research in Motion (RIM), maker of the BlackBerry.

Step 2. Build a following
-WOTE has a loyal following who care about their work. They take requests for cover songs, interact with their fans and give a lot of work away for free. When ‘Somebody That I Use To Know’ was released, they had already earned the attention of a very loyal following who was ready to hit ‘share. It was in-fact the initial Facebook shares by WOTE’s core fans that got the video noticed by other people, who passed it on to their friends, who passed it on to their friends… and that’s how they ended up on Ellen, but it all started with the core fans.

– If you ever attended a lecture by Larry you know it’s more like an ‘economic performance’ than a traditional University lecture. I attended both of his classes and honestly, without his class in first year university, I probably would have dropped out of Waterloo due to boredom. How many professors have students crammed in the aisles, a waiting list to get into the class and receive a standing ovation at the end of the term by his students?

Step 3. Do something worth remarking on
-WOTE cover of ‘Somebody That I Use To Know’, is a brillant rendition of the song. Even if you never heard of WOTE before, you can’t help but be impressed by having 5 people on 1 guitar with a seamless one-shot video take of the performance. Plus Gotye’s original song ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’, was already rising on the charts in North America and was a proven hit in Europe and Australia.

-Larry Smith would often pull off some pretty great statements while delivering his lectures on current economic stupidity in the market place. I remember him saying on a few occasions, “Warning, warning! Danger, danger! If you do this you will fail!” So when he gave a TEDx talk on ‘Why you will fail to have a great career’, even if you never attended one of his classes, the title alone combined with the brand of TEDx creates a level of intrigue worth the click of the mouse.

Step 4. Be freaking amazing
Walk Of The Earth….

Larry Smith…

If I could add a 5th step it is that both Walk Off The Earth and Larry Smith are passionate about their work. And passion, above all else, is the most powerful force of all. So do great work, hit record and you just never know what could happen next…

2 thoughts on “Going Viral: Case Study, Walk Of The Earth and Larry Smith
  1. I had about 7 minutes to spare and starting to read your post and got to the video link and I was intrigued by seeing one guitar and 5 people holding on to it… and just had to watch it… I was able to get through the whole video before my 7 minutes were up… I was totally amazed at what I say…
    I never use the work “freaking” but you know…they were freaking amazing!

    Will have to watch the other video later…I have ran over my allotted time limit by 2 minutes, so I have to run…

    See you on the water

    • Thanks Norm.

      Yes they are freaking amazing in that video. Because of the huge success of that video they have put themselves in a position to finally get the chance they truly deserve – a shot @ long term success in the music industry.

      Be sure to share “why you will fail to have a great career” with Ben and the rest of your kids too. There’s a great life lesson in there.

      See you on the water,

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