Meet the new Queen of Viral Video

I have such a special treat for you today.

One of my first Twitter friends was Michelle Chmielewski.  What started as a silly little tweet exchange turned into a wonderful friendship and collaboration. You may remember Michelle for being featured prominently in The Tao of Twitter.

Early in her career I recognized that Michelle was an extraordinary video producer and on-air talent.  To help her along, I bought her her first HD camera while she was still a graduate student so she could help me with a video, and now she has become a multi-media phenomenon.  She started out by doing insightful and quirky social media commentaries and now she is doing … well, click on her video above.  You really have to see for yourself!

The video I’ve featured today was a turning point for her young career because for the first time she truly reached a “viral status.” I think you’ll love her video and in this interview, she describes what it was like to get 700,000 views for one piece of video content.

ME: So tell me about your “Oh My God moment” when you realized you had produced a viral video. When did you know it was a hit and how did you react?

Michelle:  I think I peed my pants a little.

And I kept saying “what ?! what ??!! WHAT ?!?!  OK people are crazy, it’s not that funny” (I never think my videos are for some reason). That Monday night I remember seeing a friend and saying “I’m in a really good mood because one of my videos is doing really well” And then the stats just kept going through the roof.  It was crazy! I didn’t know how to take it. People kept congratulating me as if I had done something amazing or were really talented, but I hadn’t changed anything, for me I had just done a video like any other week ! It was really funny, and flattering, and bizarre all at the same time.  The best was a voice message from close friend saying, “Michelle? … just wanted to call because I just saw you on the TV and … I’m not sure why” It was epic.

It’s not uncommon for funny videos to find an audience on the Internet but what do think it was about this one that captured so much attention? 

Honestly, I have no idea, other than it just hit home for French people. Everyone I talked with said, “wow, you really nailed it!” All I did was mimic what I had been seeing around me every day.

You have a come a long way since you produced that quirky little video for me!  What have been your top three video lessons of the past two years?

1) Invest in good sound. It makes a difference.   2) Learn from what other vloggers are doing, but don’t let it alter your style or
what you do.  3) Have fun. It shows if you’re not (and it shows if you are)

You have an increasing audience and some proven star power now. You’ve moved away from producing social media commentaries to mini-comedies. Was this a decision or an evolution?

I DEFINITELY wouldn’t say I have “star power” but I’d say I’ve definitely seen the growth of a really interesting community of people that are from all around the world and live all around the world. They’re over here by the way if you want to say hi 😉

I’d say I made a conscious decision to move away from social media commentary (except for the exceptional post) because I realized that I’m still learning so much and don’t want to be “another social media expert.”  I don’t have 10 years of experience behind me, though, or even 5! I figure better to live and learn for the moment, and “teach” later. Of course, there are always opportunities to share and grow and learn, and I welcome them with open arms. I’m just purposely looking to experience everything firsthand myself.

Where do you go next for your videos?  Do you do them for fun or do you have ideas for
something bigger?  An opportunity to monetize?

No idea to monetize yet. For that I would have to be a vlogger who gets a million views a video. For the moment I’m still just focusing on having fun and seeing what opportunities come my way. I have a really fun and interesting and demanding job working with Seesmic for the moment, and my blog has started offering opportunities to do different things (like go behind the scenes at Paris Plages this August!) that I wouldn’t be able to do otherwise, and a couple of friends and I are starting a new project soon. Stay tuned 😉

Somebody actually told me the other day I should probably take down the video you made for my company. But I just can’t bear to do it. I have an emotional attachment. What should I do?

It’s time to cut the cord. I owe you so much for believing in me and giving me the tools to make this a reality today, but I have to admit even myself that my video editing has come quite a ways since then. Thank you thank you thank you thank you for your faith and trust and encouragement. Now please take that horrible video off your site. If you’d like, come to Paris and we’ll redo a video.

… So the verdict is in. My little video from Michelle will have to go at the end of August 2011. Stop by the comment section and let us know what you think of these videos.  And if you want even more Michelle, here is an answer to the “Speaking French” video for Southern Americans:

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