Artichoke dip that burns: What makes a video go viral?

Click to play video: 'Leslie Horton’s holiday treat was not a hit'
Leslie Horton’s holiday treat was not a hit
WATCH ABOVE: Leslie Horton shared her favourite treat to make at Christmas -- but admitted her recipe for artichoke dip went "terribly wrong." – Dec 16, 2016

Global News anchor Leslie Horton’s artichoke dip is gaining international attention, mostly for the reaction it earned from her coworkers—live on the Calgary morning show.

“I thought it smelled like a barn,” co-anchor Scott Fee said as meteorologist Jordan Witzel prepared to take a bite. “Is it edible?”

“All that I can taste is vinegar,” Amber Schinkel laughed. “It burns.”
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So what made the video jump to over 2.8 million views just four days after it was posted on YouTube?

“There’s just got to be that sort of secret sauce that really taps into what people find so interesting, compelling or funny that they want to share it,” social media expert and Mount Royal University professor Karen Richards said Tuesday.

But there was no vinegar in Horton’s secret sauce—a recipe she said went “horribly wrong.”

“The fact that it’s live and that it was supposed to be kind of planned and professional but it goes wrong on live TV- that’s one element,” Richards added.

“The other is just the pure humour—just to see that unexpected surprise of something tasting so horrible.”

Watch below: A video showing Scott Fee, Amber Schinkel and Jordan Witzel tasting Leslie Horton’s improvised artichoke dip has gone viral on YouTube.

Click to play video: 'Horrendous holiday artichoke dip video goes viral'
Horrendous holiday artichoke dip video goes viral

YouTube Canada’s Nicole Bell agrees the video was hilarious. She says popular videos tend to have three key characteristics, the first of which is they need to be entertaining or informative in some way.

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“This one is both entertaining and informative – don’t substitute lemons for oranges in your artichoke dip,” she laughed, referring to Horton’s spin on the ingredient list.

READ MORE: Going viral – More Internet users uploading video content in the hopes of making it big

The second factor is that it has to be something you want to share with other people, Bell said.

“Who can’t relate to Leslie’s experience of having a culinary disaster? Or having to taste your friend’s disaster and trying to be nice about it? It’s something everyone can relate to.”

Richards and Bell agreed there’s no exact formula for what makes a video go viral, but said the way such videos are shared has a big impact.

“When you have a Buzzfeed, which is just a sharing machine with millions of viewers and they share it, then Mashable, it takes it national right away and then across the States,” Richards said. “Without those huge machines, it might not go quite as viral.”

Buzzfeed also picked up Leslie Horton’s artichoke dip video.
Buzzfeed also picked up Leslie Horton’s artichoke dip video. Buzzfeed screengrab

Bell added that it makes a difference when the video comes from a channel with similar videos and a built-in audience.

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“You have the built-in audience who love the hosts of Global Morning Calgary – they obviously feel a fondness, closeness with the hosts and it feels like you’re sharing something amongst friends, so that helps,” Bell said.

She also suggested the connection between TV moments and YouTube continues to grow stronger.

“What used to be a moment that lived on TV for a few minutes are now moments that live on forever. These ‘water cooler’ moments that get everyone talking send people to YouTube to watch and re-watch and share with their friends.”

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