The secret behind The Harlem Shake video

2013 has already been hit with what is quickly becoming its defining moment of social media, and it all started from a bedroom in Queensland.

It’s simple really.  Play a sampled 30 second clip from a song entitled “Harlem Shake” and dance like crazy.  So simple, and yet for some reason the world cannot get enough of the Harlem Shake epidemic.  Celebrities, sports team, the army, olympic teams, corporate conglomerates; All posting their version online for the online masses to see.

Was it just a viral video fluke, or was it something more orchestrated than that?  You may not like the answer.

Still catching up?  “The Harlem what now”?

Here’s a crash course on the best Harlem Shake videos on the internet currently.


NBA: Miami Heat

Jimmy Fallon

The Army

Matt & Kim popular band

Times Square, New York

Facebook staff

Intel staff

Google staff

A clothes dryer

So now you’ve got it out of your system, let’s talk about what has made the Harlem Shake video phenomenon so popular.  What sent it viral?  Why this video and not the millions of others? It’s worth considering that 72 hours of new video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.

Here’s some key reasons that contributed to its success and is a picture of the changing face of advertising:

  • Makers Studio in the USA noticed what they saw as  a ‘pre viral’ video and posted their own office version of the Harlem Shake online.  WIth the means and the knowledge, the begin pushing this out to the social media world to see what happens.
  • The record company whose song is being used notices this trending video and uses its means and networks to keep pushing that video in the hope that it catches on even more.
  • Advertising agencies and corporations looking for viral videos to utilise when advertising their product notice this upwards trending video and all decide to shoot their own version of it.
  • With big corporate funding behind it, we now have a motivated advertising model and it was only a matter of time until it went very big.
When it comes to this viral video, it is corporations with means, money and motivation that shot this video to the top and it did well to serve their purpose in extending brand, their name and their recognition.  So next time you see a ‘viral video’, have a think about whose the force driving it viral, because often you’ll find a ulterior motive behind it all.