Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

Who Sent the "Yes We Can" Video Viral?

BY Nancy Scola | Wednesday, June 30 2010

A study by a Cal State-Long Beach political scientist finds that bloggers and the Obama campaign drove the remarkable spread of will.i.am's "Yes We Can" video, media coverage less so.

Writing in the Journal of Information Technology & Politics (who knew?), Cal State-Long Beach political scientist Kevin Wallsten releases his findings on what made the winter 2008 will.i.am video "Yes We Can," a well-produced and celebrity-filled 5-minute ode to Barack Obama and the meaning of his campaign, such an enormous hit that it pulled in some 5.4 million YouTube views in its first month.

With the caveat that video virality is "complex and multidirectional," Wallsten finds, well, the chart up top.

Or, to use our words, Wallsten found that the Obama presidential campaign itself played a major role in generating views for the "Yes We Can" video by deeming it worthy -- posting it to their official campaign blogs and including it in pre-Super Tuesday emails sent by Michelle Obama. He writes that "Internet users, bloggers, and journalists seem to have taken" the campaign's attention to a video it itself hadn't made "as a cue that the video was something worth paying attention to."

Bloggers, too, drove interest in the video. "[B]log discussion," writes Wallsten, "exerted a significant impact on both the number of people who watched the video and the amount of media coverage the video received."

Less influential was your more traditional press. Wallsten found that "although journalists covered 'Yes We Can' extensively during its first month online, there is no evidence that media reports contributed to the video going viral."

The full 20-page study is here.

News Briefs

RSS Feed today >

First POST: Glass Half Full

A new Pew study on open government data in the US; the FOIA exemption ruffling transparency advocates' feathers; social media bot farms; and much, much more. GO

monday >

First POST: Zucked Up

Mark Zuckerberg responds to criticism of "zero rating" Facebook access in India; turning TVs into computers; how Facebook is changing the way UK users see the upcoming General Election; BuzzFeed's split priorities; a new website for "right-of-center women"; and much, much more. GO

thursday >

First POST: Mugs

No surprise here, but email list open rates are down; the real reason campaigns want to send you a free bumper sticker; Hillary Clinton wasn't alone in dodging inquiries from the House Oversight Committee about private email accounts; organizing opt-outs from high-stakes testing on Facebook; and much, much more. GO

wednesday >

First POST: Edges

Let the White House know what you think about the new homepage; why Democrats need a competitive primary to maintain their edge in political tech; California Highway Patrol reminded to not talk about how they track political protesters on social media; and much, much more. GO

tuesday >

First POST: Anomalies

Rallying uncommitted voters under a centrist umbrella; a defense of aggregation for a positive-sum Internet; UK says no to ban on killer robots; and much, much more. GO

More