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By now you’ve probably heard the infectious kids’ song, Baby Shark, which amassed more than 3.1 billion views on YouTube since its launch in the summer of 2016. I’ve been familiar with the catchy little ditty since my 2-year-old son came home from daycare one day singing it. Then I heard it every day of my life for the next three years. Back then, if you’d told my frazzled toddler parent self that this song would peak at no. 28 of the Billboard Hot 100, I’d tell you to get your head checked.

But that’s what happened.

Even crazier, it’s since spawned more than 400 spin-offs around the globe, like the Baby Shark Challenge in Indonesia (!!), where entire communities and families came together to do versions of the dance. Then, Sophie Turner and Josh Groban jumped on the bandwagon when comedian James Corden featured it on the Late Late Show.

But perhaps the song’s popularity is at true fever pitch right now, as evidenced by thousands of baseball fans chomping along with the song when the Washington Nationals featured the song as walk-up music for Gerardo Parra. Immediately, all the fans in attendance, as well as the players on both dugouts, got in on the fun. The clip has since been shared hundreds of thousands of times on Twitter, as well as posted on ESPN and other Tier-1 outlets.

There’s a lesson to be learned here from marketers who want to create memorable content. It needs to be:

  • Memorable
  • Authentic
  • Appeal to all ages
  • Simple

That’s it! Easier said than done, I know. Perhaps the most important factors are simplicity and authenticity. You can’t create a video and say you want it to go “viral.” If that were true, then everyone would have a viral video. The beauty of Baby Shark is in its simplicity and purity; in fact, it’s so simple a 2-year-old can remember it.

If you can capture that, you’re on your way to, at the very least, having a very successful tagline or jingle. Baby Shark found success with the toddler set because it capitalizes on repetition, which any parent of kids 5 years and younger can vouch for. Kids at that age love repetition because their still-developing brains love knowing what’s going to happen next. The YouTube Kids video from PinkFong also featured adorable kids, bright colors, and interesting patterns that made them irresistible for kids. But as it turns out, it also made it irresistible to adults the world over.

There’s a last piece of the puzzle here, however. The PinkFong version of the song isn’t the first. There’s been a version of the song since at least 2007, when the tune gained traction as a German nursery rhyme. The song’s repetition and catchy nature made it easy for anyone to post their own version of the song. So in time, these videos inundated YouTube’s algorithms, catching the attention of PinkFong, a major player in the kids YouTube video market (yes, that’s a thing!). With much greater production value thanks to a bigger budget, PinkFong made their own version of the song and put a healthy YouTube promo budget behind it to make sure that every kid younger than 5 – and their parents – saw the video. And thus a viral video is born.

The key takeaway here? You can’t set out to create a “viral video.” You can, however, understand your audience, and in an authentic way create a simple, memorable piece of content that will resonate. And to ensure your audience will see it, put a healthy digital advertising budget behind it to promote it. In no time at all, baseball stadiums will be singing your tune.

Or the very least, you’ll reach your audience with your message.

Harvey Henao

Author Harvey Henao

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