Stage 3: Maturity
At this point, this is where the trend is really exploding, and we start to see corporations and other "squares" jump in with their versions. We start to see company-sponsored versions, which are less imaginative and less funny than the original, but still might appeal to some of their audiences.
The reason that most companies are involved at this point is because they usually need to hold meetings to discuss the creation of the video, send memos out to interested parties, reserve a conference room (or outside space) and get the approval of either the HR department, legal or marketing. That takes time, people!
For example, here are two videos of the Harlem Shake, courtesy of Intel and Google:
Stage 4: The backlash
After something gets popular, of course the haters then have to come in, declaring the original trend video stupid, or snarking about all of these parody videos that are being created.
It's a bit of an overlap, because as they're commenting or creating backlash videos, new videos are also being created, so it's tough to tell exactly when this kicks in.
In the case of the Harlem Shake, we got a pretty good indication of the backlash stage when Freddie Wong created this video:
Stage 4: Decline (or death)
This is the point of no return. Basically, whenever the Today Show (or, in some cases, Regis Philbin) does a news report or tries to create one of their own, the video trend is officially dead. Any videos that get created from this point on are officially marked forever as "behind the times".
We're currently at that point with Harlem Shake, here's the painful version from the folks at Today: (you can also tell you're in Stage 4 because they're still relying on a non-YouTube video platform for embedding)
Now, many people may still wonder, "What the heck is this Harlem Shake thing?" (at lunch, a co-worker asked me). At this point, you just shake your head and try to get them onboard the next viral video trend. Chances are, one is already starting (tell them to check Reddit or Tumblr to try to catch the next train).
Keith Shaw also rounds up the best in geek video in his ITworld.tv blog. Follow Keith on Twitter at @shawkeith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.