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“Going viral” is a contentious phrase these days. Every business has seen the success of viral hits like Gangnam Style or Old Spice commercials, and they all want a piece of that kind of exposure – but it’s never that simple.

You have to realize that there’s no guaranteed formula for success in viral videos. Many of the biggest viral hits were completely unintentional, and efforts to replicate their fame (even from the same people) are usually nowhere as successful.

Recently, FunnyOrDie released the latest episode of “Between Two Ferns”, an intentionally awkward interview with Zach Galifianakis. The show is no stranger to famous celebrities, from Justin Bieber to Samuel L. Jackson, but no one expected President Barack Obama himself to show up.

Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis: President Barack Obama from President Barack Obama

Here’s why we thought it worked:

They made fun of themselves
Humour is such an important element of any video or marketing effort. If people find something funny, they’ll share it.

One of the best parts of this video is the fact that it makes fun of itself. Obama openly admits that the whole reason he’s on this show is to plug his healthcare.gov website. Such an open and surprising admission (from the president of the United States, no less!) makes the whole thing work so well.

One part of this that I love the most is how they didn’t pull any punches. Zach’s remarks during President Obama’s explanation of the healthcare website show him as visibly bored with the President’s speech.

The Obama administration sets itself apart by poking fun at themselves and their own policies with this video.

It was awkward, yet hilarious
Let’s make it clear that I’m definitely not a fan of “awkward” humour. Shows or ads where people are put into embarrassing situations make me cringe and change the channel.

However, watching the President trade verbal jabs over the healthcare law, the Hangover movies, and even President Obama’s birth certificate made for a surprisingly entertaining video. It wasn’t the funniest thing I’ve ever seen on the Internet, but it was good enough that I would share it with my friends.

Results
The video saw immediate results. According to Fox News, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the Funny or Die video was the greatest source of referrals to healthcare.gov for that day.

It doesn’t matter if you like President Obama or not, there’s no denying that his viral video got people talking.