What’s In A Viral Video: The Magic Behind WestJet’s Latest Holiday Video

WestJet has truly done it again.

Last year the Canadian airline had me alternately reaching for tissues, hitting the video share button and patting the seat next to me as I forced people to sit with me and watch as they (and Santa) surprised their passengers with the gifts of their heart at carousel eight. (Sure, go ahead and tell me I’ve seen it too many times since I can actually QUOTE IT).

West Jet Spirit of Giving Viral Video

This year, they’ve gone international. And I’m still crying. With a blue sleigh parked in the center of a small Dominican Republic village, Santa hears the holiday wishes from both children and adults. And once again, the WestJetters hit the local stores to make dreams and wishes come true….a doll, a washing machine, and for two men working to feed their families: a new motorcycle engine and a horse! The gifts are delivered amidst under the beauty of a warm sun, manufactured snow and so many smiles I had to watch it three times to make sure I absorbed all of the goodness. As if that wasn’t enough, they built a playground in the middle of the village for ALL of the children to enjoy.


You guessed it: still crying.

But what makes this video viral? And is it possible for WestJet to guarantee virality?

Well, as to the guarantee, I’d hedge a ‘no’…but if you pay attention to enough videos like this one, you can certainly pinpoint a few keys to their success.

Here are five to keep in mind.

5 Tips to Increase Your Viral Video Potential

Aim for Emotion - WestJet offers emotion in spades. You’re smiling, you’re laughing, you’re crying. You are reaching out to grab the person next to you to make sure they JUST SAW THAT: (Santa brought him a horse! And it’s so he can work TO FEED HIS FAMILY.) Double whammy. When we feel something – whether it’s tears of joy, inspiration, a jawdropper or something that tickles our funny bone, we can’t help but feel moved. And compelled to share.

Think Shareability:  But what do you do if no one is sitting in the chair next to you? You click share. You copy and paste the link. You put it on Facebook. On Twitter. On Google+ and say, ‘you simply must see this’.  And then we talk about in person – we say, ‘did you see….??’. We share when a video moves us in some way. It has a ‘share factor’ of 10 if your first inclination is to look around to see who can watch with you, to think my husband/wife/mom/best friend/kids simply must see this. My kids and I have a few moments every day when they come home from school and I share the videos I know they’d want to see. Everything from the accidental and funny – our favorite has to be ‘Worry About Yourself’  (over 5 million views), to the cool – 11 year old Taylor is a crazy amazing dancer with her choreographer Lawrence – (10 Million views) to the sweet – this 10 month old cries from emotion as he listens to his mom sing (more than 11 million views) to the inspirational – TD Canada created the Automatic Thank You Machine (nearly 19 million views).

TD Canada Automatic Thanking Machine

Stay True to Your Brand: Your videos should showcase your brand’s core values… you know the ones you try to live even when the camera is off. Here’s the thing about the WestJet videos - you get a feel for the brand, for how they feel not only about their own customers (last year) but how they aim to spread good in the world (this year). And even better – they are involving their employees. Sure, I’ve seen some of the comments – so I know the cynics call it a publicity stunt, but the positive response the brand receives far outweighs the other. If you’re wondering ‘why they did it’ – watch their video and know this isn’t the first time WestJet has sent employees to do good in the Dominican Republic (yes, they’ve gone without ‘viral video camera crews) I’ve found that the most successful ‘viral’ brand videos are the ones that make YOU, the viewer want to use the service or product. Heaven knows I’d fly WestJet or look in to banking at TD Canada if I could. I get the ‘feeling’ these brands care about their customers – and that’s a good thing. Does that make them perfect? No. But it gives their videos legs and opens the minds of potential customers. That’s a win. Just like I expect adrenaline from RedBull and some type of comedy from the Old Spice Man. Gosh, I miss him.

Consistency and Committment – Of course there are ‘one-hit-wonders’ – those videos that happen spontaneously – Charlie biting his big brother’s finger (805 MILLION views) or Ted Williams, a homeless man with an extraordinary voice getting national attention (and jobs!), but for a brand to create videos with viral capacity, it requires committment not only to their brand image, but to engaging in the video space. Showing up on YouTube one day and *hoping* for an audience isn’t exactly smart planning. Developing an audience and engaging with them by creating content that represents you gives you an audience base for the moments when you want to make a big splash.

WestJet Twitter Engagement

Market Yourself - Once you upload that video on to YouTube and share it with the world, you have to have a plan in place to make sure that people see it so THEY have the opportunity to be moved by it (laugh, cry, feel inspired) and then share it. In WestJet’s case, they released the video on November 30th and in less than three days, it has more than 700K views. They shared initially on Twitter, and on Facebook, but their YouTube is also connected to Google+ and they have continued to engage with their audience on all of the platforms as people see and respond. Additionally, they are sharing snippets on Facebook to keep the conversation going.

WestJet FB Engagement


So there you have it… a few suggestions I hope will get you on your way.

What are some tips you’d offer? And what brands are doing it right. Share in the comments.

My National TV Debut: Red Carpet ACM Correspondent

We are just going to go right ahead and call this a ‘PINCH-ME-LIFE-MOMENT’.  I shared with you a few months ago that I experienced what amounts to a ‘dream come true’ when I was given the opportunity to work as a correspondent on the Red Carpet at the Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas.

It was everything I imagined it would be.  I was both giddy and awestruck.  I wasn’t merely thrilled because I was stepping my four-inch heels onto an actual red carpet.  It wasn’t that I was given the opportunity to play ‘dress-up’, chose a dress I wish I could wear every day, or that I would love to take those hair and make up stylists home to live with me (I do).  It wasn’t that I would be surrounded by ‘celebrities’.

And while I adore country music deep in my soul, it wasn’t just that. (I *may* have told Clay Walker that he was the reason I fell in love with country music 20 years ago… and he *may* have told me that was the best thing anyone has ever said to him).

I was petrified, I was a ball of nerves and energy.  I was positive it would be obvious this was my first time here. But, I took a deep breath and forced myself to believe.  I refused to think I had found myself here, in this moment, based on luck.

This is what I have always felt in my soul I was supposed to do…. the interviewing, the video work, the story-telling. I was in my element.  And topping it off – the beauty of an amazing cause – Child Hunger Ends Here.  Each interview I did was better than the last.  With each artist, I found the tension easing… I fell into the skill set I know I possess. I wanted to hear the story.  So, I asked the questions.  And, they answered.

I love this work.

Why am I sharing this with you today, months after the fact?  Today, I was given a gift: the copy of the video here in this post.  It is a copy of a segment that aired on Better TV.  A similar one aired on The Daily Buzz and another on Daytime TV.  All three shows are nationally syndicated.  This is the first time I have seen them.  And this is the first time I have ever appeared on a national show as a correspondent.

I’ve been interviewed as a guest. I’ve done many segments as portions of newscasts. And I’ve reported and anchored on a local level. But this is the first time I’ve appeared in this capacity. And I am proud of it.

Thank you for sharing this small bit of joy with me.

Academy of Country Music Awards: Interview with Gwen Sebastian (The Voice

Three weeks ago, I received a phone call: How would I feel about covering the Red Carpet at the Academy of Country Music Awards on behalf of Con Agra Foods and their Child Hunger Ends Here program?

A song, “Here’s Hope”, written just for the campaign was going to be performed at the ACMs, spreading the message: Child Hunger is an epidemic, but there is Hope.

I might have said ‘YES!” before the question was done being asked.

This opportunity was extraordinary for a few reasons:

  • Covering a Red Carpet event has been a dream of mine for years (since I was in traditional TV)
  • I would be covering it on behalf of Child Hunger Ends Here – a cause I care deeply about
  • I LOVE Country Music.

So, for me?  A perfect fit.  I have the opportunity to do something I have always dreamed about and for a good cause.

On the Red Carpet, I interviewed more than a dozen Country Artists….one of them was Gwen Sebastian, who recently left The Voice, but has some BIG news to share:

Isn’t she phenomenal? There is so much more video to come…. interviews with Hunter Hays, Coy Bowles from the Zac Brown Band…. and SO MUCH Red Carpet Coverage.  I cannot wait to share.


An adventure with the Motorola XOOM

I used to be afraid of new technology.  Now?  It feels like an adventure.  Because  I recognize within every trial, the potential for my life to be better, faster, stronger and yes…easier.  As a business owner, as a mother…. these are important to me.

A few weeks ago, I was given the Motorola XOOM tablet to see if it would fit into my life.  I began by playing with it in my home and then took it with me on a ten day trip to San Diego and Los Angeles.  I used it for work and play.  I adored its portability….  I was able to work on it in the car and carry it easily in my purse.  Because I am a video girl – the dual facing video made me giddy.  And knowing that I will be able to use Google Chat to connect with my family when I am away?  You had me at XOOM.

if you are thinking a XOOM is in your future: — Motorola XOOM price has dropped. The XOOM is now available for $499 with a 2 year contract. That makes it the lowest priced tablet on the market.

Disclosure: I partnered with Motorola XOOM for BlogHer11 and my trip to San Diego.


Kids and Online Safety: I let My Daughter Start a Blog

Yes – you read that right…  I let my daughter, my SIX year old (almost SEVEN) start a blog today.  She had had more than 400 hits to the site on her first day.  She has dozens of comments.  She?  Is in heaven.  She is reading, writing, (typing), spelling, laughing and thinking creatively.  I’ve heard great feedback:  ’what a big girl’, ‘how fabulous for her creativity’, ‘is she really writing it on her own?’  Yes – she does seem so big to me, yes, her joy and creativity went through the roof today and YES – she really is writing and responding on her own.  With me right next to her.  But I’ve also been asked about the not-so-pretty-side of children being online. These are my thoughts….  I’d love for you to chime in.

(P.S. your volume will NOT need to be loud – the audio is strong)


Fashion140 Conference in New York City, Lincoln Center

It is no surprise that Social Media is effecting the way we communicate and the way we do business, but to see how it is intersecting with individual industries, the 140Conferences were born…. created by mastermind, Jeff Pulver. But realizing the conversation now needs to go a step further…. exploring the connection between individual industries and social media, Pulver partnered with Itay Arad and Lilly Berelovich of Fashion Snoops to explore how social media is working specifically with the Fashion Industry. The result was a day long event at the Lincoln Center in the heart of New York City – attended by one thousand people – all eager to share and learn. These are the highlights…

GMC gifts Mark Horvath, InvisiblePeople.TV a car at SOBCon

It is one of those moments that makes you grateful to be a member of this online space. This past weekend, I witnessed an act of recognition and one of giving. At SOBCon, GMC gave Mark Horvath of InvisiblePeople.TV a GMC Terrain… a way of saying, ‘thank you’ for the work Mark does with the homeless AND, a way of saying, ‘we see you’ to Mark and the hundreds of homeless men, women and children Mark helps every day around the country. The gift provides Mark with a ‘mobile office’ – equipping him with everything he needs to continue doing his work, including a year’s worth of gas from Murphy USA. Watch….

The Royal Wedding – To Watch or Not To Watch

Official Engagement Photo, Taken By Mario Testino

Did you know? Prince William and Kate Middleton are getting married. On Friday. Of course you already knew that. Unless you have been hiding under a very large rock. Because, really? Every TV station, Radio station, Magazine cover is covering you in a blanket of all things Royal. If you want to SEE.IT.HAPPEN.LIVE, you best be setting your alarm for o’dark’thirty – I believe it is 4am for us here in the States, is it not?  The question I have is:  Will you be watching?  I keep hearing, “MILLIONS of people will be watching….”….  Will you be one of them?