2012 has been a great year for video sharing with the ten most viral videos being shared 28 million times compared to the 16.8 million of their 2011 counterparts.

Here’s a look at the ten most shared non-music videos based on the Viral Video Chart by Unruly Media.

This ranks videos based on how many shares they get, rather than their number of views.

Top of the Charts:Invisible Children:Kony 2012


It is somehow reassuring to find that the top viral video of 2012 wasn’t advertising a big multinational brand selling a product. Instead it was a video about humanity produced by a not for profit organisation. If you haven’t seen it yet, you really should, not only because it is compelling and incredibly moving, but also because it is a very fine example of how to make brilliant use of social media.

Amazingly it is 30 minutes long, which normally would be considered too much, especially for a viral video. But it has been hugely successful. How come it has been shared so much? Well, the content itself certainly helps. It is an emotive subject and the film is well crafted and narrated with a really personal approach.

Early on in the film we are told that the video is an part of an experiment.

This is intriguing in itself and makes you want watch it. The messages are about the empowerment of the individual and are the kind of thing people do share, for that very reason.

The marketing strategy is also excellent, encouraging people to take action by showing them how the power of social media is already making a huge difference in this cause by bringing people all over the world together for positive impact.

Even if you don’t donate money, it is primarily about raising awareness in order to put pressure on policy makers and those with the power to do something at a governmental level. The video even identifies the 12 policy-makers it wants you to put pressure on and directs you to their website where you are shown how to contact them.

By also involving key famous influencers such as Angelina Jolie and George Clooney, who have huge followings on social media, the video really becomes contagious.

Runner Up: TNT: A Dramatic Surprise on a Quiet Square


If you saw an enormous red button saying “push to add drama”, how could you resist it?

This promo video for a Belgian TV network is great fun and shows what people do when faced with just such a tempting button, then showing what happens next.

It works almost like a flashmob (remember T-Mobile’s Dance Flashmob of 2009?), by involving members of the public in a seemingly spontaneous happening.

The action is well staged and the film itself uses plenty of cameras in order to capture the all important reactions of the unsuspecting passers-by. When everything returns to normal, they are left dazed and wondering if they just hallucinated the whole thing. Brilliant!

The ad agency who produced the video, Duval Guillaume, shot the whole thing 11 different times then put together the best footage with the best reactions in the final edit.

In terms of sharability, anybody who actually witnessed the event itself will have told all their friends and undoubtedly searched for YouTube footage having seen the cameras. So the seeds of a viral video were already being sewn at the production stage.

Number 3: Abercrombie & Fitch


Great, upbeat song by Carly Rae Jepsen (ok, so they must have an enormous budget to be able to use it!), and an army of good-looking, extremely fit guys lip-synching and having fun, wearing only their Abercrombie & Fitch jeans. Irresistible.

A feel good promo video which represents the brand values of A&F perfectly.

Their target audience are the university student “college kid” demographic, so this fun, sexy video panders to it perfectly.

Fortunately it is exactly this age range which share videos contagiously when they really like them. Young men want to be the guys in the video (attractive and fun), and everyone who appreciates them and the music will share it. Great combo.

Number 4: DC Shoes: Ultimate Urban Playground


This is a must for anyone who likes fast stunt driving, not to mention the backdrop of the amazing city of San Francisco. DC Shoes specialise in footwear for extreme sports.

The idea of having a city all to yourself as a playground is very appealing especially to the target audience who will enjoy adrenalin rushes and will probably have done something similar to this virtually in video games.

The real thing is awesome. The bridges and steep streets of San Francisco, and even a car ferry, become a stunt race track for an amazing driver (who is of course wearing DC Shoes).

Emotive music at the end, as well as an impressive list of sponsors, which were no doubt rather handy to have involved.

Number 5: P&G – Thank You Mama – Best Job 2012


This is a beautiful film gently promoting some of P&G’s household products. It shows a glimpse into the lives of mothers around the world and the emotional and physical journeys they go on with their children. We see them getting their children up in the morning to go off to their various contrasting yet similar activities, interspersed with the many household tasks they have to do (washing up, laundry etc), and seeing the children grow and meet challenges eventually going on to become athletes in the 2012 Olympics.

Using the Olympics as a focus is clever, as it is topical and something most people can relate to, as is recognising the hardships and joys of motherhood (although a little bit presumptuous as there are plenty of other carers doing the same, but it works well as a catchy title and focus!), so they are onto a winner with the combination.

Number 6: Dancesport Studio: Two Year Old Dancing The Jive


This has to be the lowest budget of the top ten! It is a sickeningly sweet and funny home video of a 2 year old dancing the jive which a dance studio have used to promote their services, using the tag line “It is never too early to start…” Cute kids doing funny things equals very shareable.

Number 7: Melbourne Metro: Dumb Ways To Die


A funny animation showing “dumb ways to die” with a silly catchy song about them to raise awareness of safety around trains and traintracks!

Using humour to get across a serious topic can work really well.

Number 8: Chevrolet: Ok Go – Needing/Getting


A car advert in the guise of a music video. It’s a quirky song which uses sounds made by the car to create the percussion, as it goes on a journey knocking into various sonorous objects on it’s way.

Kind of a mini mobile “Stomp” (if you’ve seen it). See below if you haven’t:

Number 9: Volkswagen: The Bark Side


A canine chorus barks out the Imperial March from Star Wars. Part of a series. Funny and cute wins the day again.

Number 10: PBS Digital Studios: Mister Rogers Remixed – Garden of Your Mind


This is a nostalgic remix of a 1970s American children’s program promoting the original back catalogue of the studio’s programs.

The ad appeals to exactly the age group the network are targeting. Nostalgia is another good hook for virals.

So what does all this tell us? In short, a combination of emotive, empowering, inclusive, recognition-giving, funny, cute, sexy, upbeat, quirky, original and nostalgic makes the perfect social video.

Creativity is key so think twice before shelving your most risky and crazy ideas.

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