Harvard Sailing Team. Photo by Peter Thorell

Today’s Viral Video Blow Up involves actors Rebecca Delgado Smith and Chris Smith, two incredibly talented actors who are part of a comedy troupe called Harvard Sailing Team. Two people who I am very proud to call my friends.

If you were to step in today into their lives, you would see that Chris is a successful hollywood actor who played the lead role of Dennis in the blockbuster movie “Paranormal Activity 3.”

Rebecca, who is married to Chris, also appeared in Paranormal Activity 3, and is currently part of the cast for  “How To Live With Your Parents For The Rest Of Your Life” soon to be released on ABC television.

Here’s How a Viral Video Blow Up Has Played Into Their Success…

Flashback to 2006, both Chris and Rebecca are performing with Harvard Sailing Team at an improv club in New York City called “The PIT: Peoples Improv Theater

The troupe gets together and performs regularly to small to medium crowds and gets their comedy act out on tour in venues across the nation.

Meanwhile, HST (short for Harvard Sailing Team), thinks ahead and begins leveraging social media, launches a YouTube video channel and starts uploading videos.

4 years go by and their videos, although very funny, don’t quite get the response that a viral video needs to “blow up”… A few hundred views here, a few thousand after a few months, etc.

Then one video BLOWS UP massively:

Boys Will Be Girls


On March 29, 2012 HST uploads the video to YouTube, Tweets out a link to the video which Ashton Kutcher sees. Ashton likes the video and Tweets the link out to his millions of followers.

I remember Rebecca posting on Facebook (yes, she is my friend on FB) “OMG, Ashton Kutcher has just Tweeted out a link to our video Boys Will Be Girls.”

In less than 24 hours, Harvard Sailing Team and Boys Will Be Girls becomes a viral hit and they are doing the television circuit. I flip through channels and see them on several morning shows, then more TV, they are featured on prominent blogs and the wave keeps growing.

As of today, that video has been seen over 4,553,500 times and is still growing like crazy. Chris Smith and Rebecca Delgado Smith also have a strong social media following, and since that initial blast, several of their other videos have also spread like wildfire.

What happened? What made THAT initial video blow up and lead to a wave of recognition?

It’s hard to pinpoint what made Boys Will Be Girls such a huge hit…

It wasn’t just that it was hilarious (many of the other videos are also incredibly funny) – was it the fact that it touched upon the issues of male vs. female identity and that many people can relate to the topic?

We have to call a spade a spade and at least attribute some of the success to luck, I mean – it’s not every day that Ashton Kutcher Tweets out a video to millions of people…

Fair enough…

But – it’s critical to understand that if there had been no video in the first place, and beyond that if it wouldn’t have been “good enough” and “identifiable enough” that it triggered something in Ashton Kutcher to associate his name with it to his followers, the entire viral effect would never have taken place.

Today, both Rebecca and Chris (BTW, both are incredible NYU trained professional actors and more than deserve the recognition they are receiving) are being recognized for their amazing acting skills. Still, without this Viral hit, “getting discovered” I believe their wave of recognition would have taken a completely different shape.

I also want to highlight how truly admirable Harvard Sailing Team’s use of Social Media and how they were able to combine all their talents in order to produce a video which resonated with the crowd on such a massive scale. (Note: Several other HSM team members are also experiencing their own degrees of recognition but I don’t know them personally so I won’t talk about their specific cases.)

How To Create Your Own Viral Video Hit

There have been many videos and pieces written on what makes a video go viral, I’ve read many books, articles and watched experts speaking about it, even tried my own hand several times including my own “Wanted Dead or Online” parody, but it’s a very different case when you actually see it happen to the tune of millions of views in a week (where are you Ashton?)

If you are currently looking at creating your own “Viral Video sensation”, here is a great video on three ways to do so by Dan Greenberg, Co-founder and CEO of Sharethrough, a video platform that specialises in spreading and sharing video content. After seeing this, I am seriously considering reediting Wanted Dead or Online and re-releasing it 🙂

Check out Dan Greenberg on WOBI and see which of his three suggestions on creating a viral video hit are found on the HST “Boys Will Be Girls” video.