I’m sure we’ve all been CC’d on at least 100 emails in the last year that include “viral” website/video/other as a bullet point for something that’s being planned. Everyone’s trying to replicate the success of The Blair Witch Project or Subservient Chicken or any of a number of other efforts that really worked and have subsequently become case studies.
So it’s important, I think, that we all bookmark/print out/include in our email signature this post by Mike Manuel. Mike correctly points out that things like YouTube are tools, that’s it’s the content that will ultimately decide whether the video/site/game/whatever will “go viral.” If we want something to be passed around from user to user then it’s our responsibility to guide the creation of compelling content. That needs to be followed up by work on making it findable through search or tags or other tactics.
After that it’s up to the audience.