Viral video: A DIY guide

Want 15 minutes of fame? Try 90 seconds. Here are the essential components of a great viral video, regardless of length.

Medication

Are you, or is someone you know, medicinally impaired to the point of incoherence? You, my friend, have a viral video on your hands. Simple drunkenness or stonitude don't seem to bring the page views the way that a really good prescription can. Ask your doctor for painkillers and mix your medications liberally to see what happens. Have a stone-faced cameraman with a steady hand at the ready to capture the results.

Babies

With 230 million views, this video of a baby biting his brother is the most-watched amateur YouTube video ever (only two professional music videos are more popular). Baby videos alone don't cut the mustard. The baby must generally be causing harm to someone or something. Think about your resources. Do you have a pet that the baby can terrorize? Expensive furniture the baby can destroy?

What, no baby? Try Craigslist.

Hysteria

If you have absolutely no props, no ideas, and no talent, hysterical behavior is always a good bet. Take a hot-button issue of the minute (check the last three entries on Perez Hilton's site), and riff liberally. The more unpopular your chosen subject, the better. The key to this is that your defense of said celebrity must be irrational and pointless. Exhibit even the slightest semblance of coherence, and you will lose your audience.

The downside: A person typically gets a single shot at the hysteria video before being ushered into irrelevance as a crank. It's like the nuclear option--powerful, but you get to use it only once.

Parody

When in doubt, redo something that someone more clever than you has already done. It takes only a little spin to turn a massively popular Web sensation into a slightly less popular one. Unfortunately, it does still take talent and foresight to grab opportunities for satire where they exist. And, as always, being first to the punch is critical. The 84th "Leave Britney Alone" parody just doesn't draw the lulz the way the the first one did.

Remixes

Take any of the above, or even a simple news story, and set it to music. Auto-Tune will set you back only $199. Turning a spoken-word video into music takes talent, but the payoff can be huge. Some remixers even end up selling their creations on iTunes. Don't forget to send a thank-you note to your source.

Like this? Now watch the 10 funniest tech videos from around the world.

(And if you manage to get all of these elements into a single YouTube video of your own, leave a link in the comments below. We'd love to see it.)

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Christopher Null

PC World (US online)
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