Unless you’ve been buried under a rock, hibernating in a cave, or busy jumping 128,100ft from a plane (yes, Felix Baumgartner, you get a free pass for this one), you’ve probably heard of a little YouTube video known as Gangnam Style.

The brainchild of South Korean rap artist Psy, Gangnam Style (and its bizarre combination of horse-riding and interpretive dance) is officially a phenomenon. The song has reached Number 1 in the UK charts. It’s got its own Wikipedia page, it’s been shared on social media by the likes of Katy Perry and Britney Spears, and even used on the latest Samsung commercial. Gangnam Style flashmobs have been sweeping cities across the globe, and Psy, who has been signed to Justin Bieber’s management, can now be spotted almost everywhere – from appearances on Saturday Night Live to the Korean Grand Prix – sharing his moves with the nation (although, in his words, “people don’t recognise me without my sunglasses yet”). The original video itself has more than 470 million views on YouTube – making it one of the most prolific social shares in history.

However, when you break it down, Gangnam Style is essentially a 34 year old Korean man with some crazy dance moves, dressed up in a whirl of bizarre scenarios and cheap glitter. When you think about the fact that 10 videos are uploaded to YouTube every single second, why has this one in particular become so successful?

Psy and his technicolour dream vid

Is it our childlike fascination with bright colours and moving images, or the inspired and somewhat incomprehensible lyrics (littered with referenced to sexy ladies and men who have “bulging ideas rather than muscles”)? Is it Psy’s undeniable but inexplicable charisma? Is it the sheer madness of seeing a grown man ride an invisible horse?

At least some of the comedy must be attributed to the pastiche nature of the piece – it is, after all, a stereotypical representation of the Gangnam district of Seoul, an area comparable to Beverly Hills in California, which is populated with wealthy hipsters who like to portray themselves with a certain level of class. Psy himself has said in interviews that he “intended a twisted sense of humour by claiming himself to be “Gangnam Style” when everything about the song, dance, looks, and music video is far from being such a high class.” Whilst this does indeed offer a humorous insight, it doesn’t explain the video’s global appeal, because many audiences outside of Korea would not be aware of Gangnam or its inhabitants.

Going viral in a crowded online market

However, whatever the source of Gangnam Style’s popularity, it’s a fascinating example of how YouTube videos can spread like social media wildfire.

YouTube’s own statistics page has some truly mind-blowing facts and figures that show just how much time and energy people put into their online viewing on a daily basis – for instance, did you know that 100 million people take a social action (likes, shares and comments) on YouTube every week? If just 1% of those shares were for Gangnam Style, that would equate 10 million weekly social actions for Psy alone – and once a video starts spreading, it’s likely to hit even higher stats. All of a sudden, it doesn’t seem so impossible to generate this kind of instant success – provided you’ve got some quality dance moves and an array of obnoxiously neon outfits at your disposal. Once you get that social spark, shares grow, likes increase, and views come in their thousands (or in this case, millions!)

Whether you love Gangnam Style’s catchy K-Pop or simply love to hate it, you can’t deny that it’s a social media sensation that will be entertaining (and baffling) audiences for years to come.

Social media for business and pleasure

It is clear from Gangnam Style, and many other viral internet hits, that social media sharing is a great way to get noticed – and although we don’t necessarily recommend donning a turquoise blazer and walking into a cloud of fake snow in the process, you can use social media in a similar way to get exposure for your business.

It doesn’t have to be through YouTube – other platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest can be equally useful when it comes to promoting your company. Maintaining a strong social presence is one of the best ways to help your company stand out from the crowd. If you can be funny and interesting in 140 characters or less, people are more likely to warm to your brand (innocent is a great example of this!) Combined with a regular blog and an interactive, engaging and easy to use website, the use of social media is a great way to build your business’ reputation, generate leads and inspire sales from clients across the country and beyond.

If you’d like more advice about creating an online presence for your brand, get in touch with Write My Site. We’ve got a wealth of experience creating online content for a variety of different industries and platforms – why not drop us an email info@writemysite.co.uk and see how we could help?

 

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