Gangnam Style is the first video to cross two billion views on YouTube. Despite having Korean lyrics, the video became an international hit with catchy beats and bizarre dance moves.
So how did Gangnam Style go viral on YouTube?
Below are 7 strategies that makers of Gangnam Style adopted to go viral on YouTube:
1. Had a clear goal for their viral campaign
YG Entertainment, the label behind Gangnam Style had one clear goal: set up a foothold in the U.S music industry. To boost its presence in a new market, the label planned to release a viral music video.
2. Built a large audience to make Gangnam style go viral on YouTube
YG Entertainment built a large audience to push their viral campaign. The label had managed to establish a notable presence within the K-pop (Korea Pop) sector much before the release of Gangnam Style. They had also acquired over 2.5 million subscribers and 1.6 billion views across all their YouTube channels. Thus, YG Entertainment’s well established platform was instrumental in making Gangnam Style go viral on YouTube. The video received 500k views on the first day due to the label’s existing audience base.
3. Created engaging content to make the video go viral on YouTube
Gangnam Style became a viral pandemic due its funny and engaging content. Psy’s flashy clothes, quirky galloping-horse dance moves and absurd settings made Gangnam Style a viral success. Additionally, YG Entertainment cast popular South Korean celebrities to get media attention. They featured a popular entertainer (the guy who is thrusting in the lift), a renowned comedian (the chap who stood out in a yellow suit) and a popular kid from Korea’s Got Talent. The label chose a star-studded cast to make Gangnam Style a hit in South Korea before it moved on to establish popularity globally.
4. Teased early adopters with the video
Gangnam Style’s launch was preceded by two tweets from @AllKPop. AllKPop.com is an American based celebrity and music site covering the Korean music industry. The tweets offered teasers of the video and generated buzz for its launch.
5. Received media attention organically
Gizmodo was the first mainstream news site to feature Gangnam Style. Soon, other publications caught on to the trend and published a barrage of stories featuring Psy’s song. Global traffic to the video witnessed a spike, especially after Billboard wrote about the music video. Additionally, popular celebrities like Britney Spears, KatyPerry and Tom Cruise began tweeting about Gangnam Style. This increased the video’s visibility by manifold.
6. Partnered with the right people to keep the momentum of the campaign going
To boost the campaign’s momentum, the label uploaded a video of Psy sharing a drink with Scooter Braun. Braun is a renowned talent manager who had managed Justin Bieber. The video gained tremendous media attention. Every rumor magazine and music publication covered the story. This well executed marketing stunt caused a sudden spike in the video’s view count.
7. Arranged media appearances
Scooter Braun’s impressive contact list helped Psy to get air time on popular American TV shows. He appeared on Ellen along with Britney Spears and also attended the MTV Awards as a last minute guest.
The Gangnam Style viral campaign has valuable lessons for all YouTubers. It highlights the importance of building a community, engaging with influencers and advancing the momentum by adopting well planned strategies. Use the above case study as an inspiration to make your video go viral on YouTube.
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Manasa Boggaram is a writer and has a strong passion for music, positive news and constructive journalism. When she is not researching story ideas or writing blog posts, she spends her time reading books, discovering new music and eating lots of street food.