Kevin Allocca: Why Viral Content Is Founded On the Element Of Surprise

Kevin Allocca: Why Viral Content Is Founded On the Element Of Surprise

PSFK talks to the Head of Culture & Trends at YouTube on the the next trends in viral content.

Sara Roncero-Menendez
  • 10 march 2014


PSFK is excited to have Kevin Allocca, the the Head of Culture & Trends at YouTube, as a speaker at PSFK CONFERENCE 2014. On April 11th, Kevin will talk about the current trends on the video-sharing platform. In the lead up to the event, we spoke with Kevin about what creates a viral hit and how the team at YouTube manages to track some of the biggest cultural waves appearing on their site.

What make YouTube such a flexible platform for content creation?

At its core, YouTube provides something simultaneously very simple and transformative: the ability to distribute and watch video wherever and whenever you want.  What makes it so flexible are the people who use it in increasingly creative ways that constantly push its limits and challenge us to constantly evolve.

How is YouTube evolving to stay abreast of user needs and media trends?

We spend a lot of time watching trends and listening to people, as well as tons of experimenting. We invest in understanding the needs of viewers and creators alike, to push YouTube forward across the device we now use every day.  I do a lot of my viewing now via Chromecast for example, and it’s great products like this that make me feel like my colleagues are always operating in a forward-thinking way. 

What are the key elements that make for viral content?

Oh boy.  People love to ask me this.  The truth is that when you look at some of the most popular videos we would consider “viral”, a few common themes emerge: 1) the content is based on something surprising or unexpected that separates it from traditional entertainment/news/education content. 2) There’s something for the audience to participate or engage in, which can range from discussion and sharing to parodies and responses. 3) Increasingly there’s a pre-existing audience and subscriber-base or social media following out there that’s been built up by the channel who creates the content or by the curator who shares it.

What’s the next big trend for viral videos? 

If I knew, I’d probably be off making videos! I think we’re seeing a few interesting things right now. We’re seeing a dramatic increase in the spread of highly shareable education or information-based content. We’re also seeing more and more of the very successful videos coming from channels with established fanbases that they’ve grown over time by producing consistent content, no matter how big or small their operation is.

As brands get further into the viral content game, what is the one important thing to remember about their audience?

I think brands are starting to realize that consumers are more and more exhibiting an inherently different set of fundamental behaviors, thanks to the software and hardware that seem to have altered our human experience at the moment. They value authenticity, connection and active participation over traditional things like production value.

What’s your favorite meme?

You seriously can’t expect me to pick just one!  Fine. Super Selfie (for now).

What’s one thing we can look forward to (without giving too much away) in your talk at PSFK CONFERENCE 2014?

Videos, chuckling, videos, a chart, videos, clapping.

 Thanks Kevin!

Check out our conference page to see more of innovative industry leaders who will be speaking  at our event.

We hope to see you at there! Click below to buy tickets.


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