Viral VideosWhat on Earth did we do before YouTube? How did we watch missed episodes of our favorite TV shows, learn how to get six pack abs in three minutes, or check out the new Old Spice commercial everyone’s raving about – at the click of a button?

Before YouTube’s launch in 2005, there were limited options for regular people like you and me to publish videos online. Now, YouTube and other free sites like Vimeo and MetaCafe have turned video sharing into one of the most popular and important parts of Internet culture—and online marketing.

According to a recent report, in 2010, we’ve watched more than 700 billion YouTube videos, and uploaded more than 13 million hours worth of video. And of course a handful of those were shared, Facebooked and re-tweeted into viral video stardom.

So how do you know what makes a video go viral? Ask the experts, of course!

Yesterday, I chatted with Barbara Jones, Editorial Director, and Katherine Tasheff, Executive Director of Digital Media and Marketing at Hyperion and VOICE Books about a fun new video about hot flashes, hormones, and menopause… Check it out.

“It was truly a group effort over a few conference calls and brainstorms. Though without Jack Dolgen’s

[Shmirshky Universal‘s Chief Operating Officer] sense of humor we wouldn’t have made it there,” says Katherine Tasheff.

“It’s based on real women’s experiences with perimenopause and menopause, which are so extreme as to border—and sometimes fall into—the funny,” says Barbara Jones.

This team knows what it’s talking about, as evidenced by the runaway success of Kelly Corrigan’s Transcending. The video was a reading of an essay that was bound into the paperback of Kelly’s memoir The Middle Place. “We released on a Monday early in December and by the next weekend we were
over 100,000 views,” Katherine says.

Ultimately, the Transcending video has produced nearly 5 million hits, and 28 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. And it’s still being watched!

According to Katherine’s team, there are three things every video should have if you want it to go viral:

  1. Authenticity.
  2. Connection –humorous (The Annoying Orange), touching (Transcending), or surprising (Susan Boyle).
  3. Visceral—We’re all really, REALLY busy. Unless we’re moved on a gut level, we won’t forward anything.

So there you have it. Simple, right?

What do you think? Tell us. Will From Hot Flashes to Hormone Happiness go viral?

P.S. According to the YouTube Trends blog, here’s the official 2010 YouTube Top 10 most watched list, as of November. The videos on this list got more than 250 million views collectively. Enjoy!