The world may never know the secret recipe for what makes a video go viral, but Mike Mattison and his son, Lucas, found the right ingredients for a recent social media post that has received worldwide attention and nearly five million views on social media.
Mattison, associate provost for undergraduate curricular development and academic support services, Writing Center director, and associate professor of English at Wittenberg, was going about his normal day teaching students online when he was interrupted several times by his 19-year-old bored son, Lucas, providing comedy relief during the stay-at-home quarantined times brought on by the COVID-19 health crisis.
Mattison knew Lucas was preparing something, hence the camera being set up in front of him, but wasn’t sure exactly what was going to transpire. The result proved to be a hit with Mattison’s students and, obviously, the world, as Lucas appeared on camera behind his dad at different times throughout the online class wearing new attire each time, including walking in as a surfer, a graduate, an explorer, a hunter, and a ninja. Dad does not even flinch until the end of the video, where he finally takes out a Nerf gun and blasts his son.
“This was all Lucas's idea,” said Mattison, who was meeting via Zoom with incoming writing advisors for the English 242: Writing Center Theory and Practice course at the time. “He and his sister had started doing Tik Toks each day of quarantine, and one day he came to me and asked if he could do something while I was teaching. He didn't say much of what he would do, but that it might involve costumes of some type.”
Part 1 (4/15)
Part 2 (4/23)
Lucas, on the suggestion of his sister, Hannah, downloaded Tik Tok, the highly popular app for short-form mobile videos. She was the first in the family with a Tik Tok account. The Mattisons are a family of five at home together during the health crisis.
“I am not sure they (the class) saw the first or second outfit, as we might have been screensharing a document - we were in class after all,” Mattison added. “They did see the explorer costume, but did not say anything. When he walked in with a bow and arrow, they did say something. Mainly, ‘hey, there's a guy with a bow in your room.’ I didn't turn around in time to see him, so I told them not to worry. When I shot him the last time, there were some ‘what the...?’ reactions, followed by laughter. I got some credit for being a good shot.”
Lucas, currently on leave from Americorps, was set to leave on March 16, but they cancelled the flight two days before because of COVID-19, and he will now wait until May to report for training in Mississippi. He posted the shortened 49-second video on Tik Tok on Friday, April 10, hoping to break his previous Tik Tok record of about 4,000 views. At last check, the video now has 4.8 million on Tik Tok and 17,000+ on the Good Morning America Twitter feed.
“It moved along nicely for a bit, and we thought it topped out about 37,000,” Mattison said. “We were happy with that, and then it went. Anytime you refreshed the page it jumped another thousand. We spent a while just following the numbers. We were looking for 500,000 after a bit, and then we realized on Saturday it might hit one million. Once it got there, it was picked up and pushed out by some other sites, and that certainly helped.”
In addition to Good Morning America, the father-son video venture has been featured on ABC News, The Daily Mail, ENews, TMX News, the Kim Komando Radio Show, the CBS Morning Show, and local outlets WHIO-TV and the Springfield News-Sun, among several others.
And the trick to going viral according to Mattison “be famous or be lucky.” Stayed tuned for the sequel.