Howcast on MSNBC

MSNBC - "Caught on Camera: Viral Videos - Millions Served"

Woman: Want to learn how to flirt, do a magic trick, or skateboard like a pro? Well, now you can find all you need to know, right in the comfort of your own home, because a new phenomenon is taking the internet by storm.

Man: Great, great stuff.

Woman: Viral videos, more informative than absurd.

Man 2: You might watch this video and learn a little something.

Woman: They’re how-to videos and they can teach you how to do just about anything.

Woman 2: How to carve a pumpkin.

Gregory: How-to videos are instructional and educational videos that show you how to do just about everything. You could find a video about how to treat a mosquito bite or maybe that video on how to find your next vacation.

Woman 3: Bring a big map with you, as well.

Woman: From tiling bathroom floors to curing gum disease, there are thousands of how-to videos to choose from. Gregory believes how-to videos are so popular because they make things simple for people to learn.

Woman 4: Step 1.

Gregory: Text articles are great for learning how to do certain things, but a lot of people learn visually and videos sometimes explain things you wouldn’t be able to get out of reading an article.

Woman: Take skateboarding, for example.

Gregory: There’s a skateboarder and he’s walking through the trick. And one of the best parts of the video is near the end, it actually slows it down into slow motion so you can see the full trick executed.

Woman: Daniel Blackman, Chief Operating Officer of Howcast, another how-to site, says even the mysterious art of flirting…

Woman 4: How to flirt.

Woman: can be taught in a 2 minute video.

Woman 4: Use these proven methods to charm and seduce.

Daniel: It’s what you can do to flirt better.

Woman 4: Begin with a bright smile.

Daniel: But also picking up the cues to see if someone is actually flirting with you.

Woman 4: Someone who can’t take their eyes off of you is very intriguing.

Man 2: It’s definitely told from a woman’s perspective, because I think a lot of these tips, if they were given to a guy, he might be arrested.

Woman 4: Just keep it above the belt.

Daniel: If you’re flirting with someone and their feet are pointed toward you or away, those are indications. So, there are all these subtle cues that you can use.

Woman 4: Happy hunting.

Woman: Daniel says the how-to’s of making a how-to video follow a pretty straight forward formula.

Woman 5: Don’t look now, but you’re juggling.

Woman: Take, for example, this video on how to Moonwalk.

Daniel: There’s a short intro.

Man 3: Unlike The Hustle and The Macarena, The Moonwalk still has some real street cred.

Daniel: There’s a list of things that you need.

Man 3: You will need a slippery floor. Optional: socks.

Daniel: Then, there’s a series of steps.

Man 3: Step 1: find a floor that’s good for sliding, like hardwood or smooth tile.

Daniel: And it’s usually punctuated by a tip.

Man 3: Remember to apply pressure to whichever foot is raised.

Daniel: And then we end with a little fact.

Man 3: Michael Jackson got the idea for The Moonwalk from the French mime Marcel Marceau.

Woman: But how do these how-to guys come up with video topics?

Daniel: A lot of it’s demand-based, in terms of what’s going on around the internet; our own usage, competitive analysis.

Gregory: We look for what people are searching for. What they’re searching for online might be different from what they’re viewing on television. So, that becomes very important.

Woman: World events, like the death of pop legend Michael Jackson, significantly impact what people search for on the web. After he died, How To Moonwalk earned more than a million hits.

Daniel: A newsworthy event happens and there’s a video topic that we’ve done or someone else has done, that captures the zeitgeist of the moment. That can go viral.

Woman: But some of the most watched how-to videos, with more than a million hits, are about simple things, like how to pick a lock.

Woman 6: Locked yourself out of the house? Before you call a locksmith, try this.

Woman: Or how to treat a mosquito bite.

Woman 7: Three, make a paste of baking soda and water.

Gregory: I think things become popular because they’re practical and they’re useful. There’s going to be people that want to remodel something in their house or learn how to cook something or learn how to do a skateboard trick. So, that information is always going to be useful.

Woman: And as long as there’s a need to learn, how-to videos will be there.

Daniel: Certain things aren’t that hard, if you know how to do them and you have clear, concise information. It’s all about achievement, ultimately. I’ve figured out how to do something and that makes me feel good.