Understanding how topics pick up speed over time is essential to the world of digital content, whether you’re a content creator or a marketer.
For content creators, hitting on a major trend in it’s upswing is what results in that one magical viral video that launches your channel into stardom.
For brands, understanding how a particular topic is trending is key to ensuring your brand becomes associated with a specific message and drives valuable impressions and, ultimately, profit, to your company.
Google Trends WAS the “trendy” trend tracker - back in 2006.
In reality, Google Trends doesn’t tell anyone much other than what people are searching on browsers, but online audiences are now much more sophisticated - they go directly to the source when it comes to finding information and looking for entertainment.
We’ve got you covered with a much more in-depth Trends Page that breaks down the micro-data so content creators and marketers alike can get what they need to drive engagement.
Let’s take a look at one trend in particular to understand EXACTLY how trends can be leveraged - the “my morning routine” is currently averaging 300 pieces of content daily online.
This “trend” is actually a topic that is over ten years old, however. The first “morning routine” video was published in September 2009.
Landmarq’s YouTube channel was created in 2009, just six months before this video went live, and it’s the only video from this channel that mentions “my morning routine”. However, this wasn’t the video that set this trend. So, which channel is responsible for blowing this topic up and causing 269 creators to create at least one video a month discussing their morning routines?
The all-time, most-viewed “my morning routine” video is from Mommy Etc’s YouTube channel. With 84M views and 145K likes, this video may have been the trendsetter from what we can see. Prior to 2015, there were less than 1000 videos from under 500 creators on YouTube discussing “my morning routine” - and just seven podcast episodes discussing this trend!
When 2015 hit, Mommy Etc published her “mommy edition” morning routine video, and many other content creators followed suit, turning it into the year of the morning routine vlogs.
Zooming up on 2016, we can see there was a small bubble and then a dip of mentions of this topic:
What’s really interesting is the number of BRANDS also dipped from a peak of almost 100 brands sponsoring creators discussing “my morning routine” videos down to under 40 in 2016. Brands follow creators and what they find most interesting to talk about because that’s where the engagement is.
We can see why - audiences didn’t LOVE this topic after watching a ton of these morning routine videos for all of 2015.
Side-by-side comparison shows that while these channels grew their subscriber bases throughout 2016, the number of views on these morning routine videos was down more than 100M from the year prior - average views per video were down more than 25% from last year’s videos, and - the biggest stat to pay attention to - the number of DISLIKES on these videos jumped up almost 100M.
So, let me get this straight - there were less people watching less “my morning routine” content from less creators in 2015 - and in 2016, while there were MORE videos, MORE subscribers, and MORE creators discussing it, the audiences loved it less? The drop in views and drastic increase in dislikes definitely shows the audiences voted “no” on that content trend.
We can see several brands avoiding this pitfall with the “my morning routine” content, chasing audiences that were consistently viewing, liking, and commenting on creator content.
“My morning routine” content really stagnated across 2016 and 2017 due to audience distaste - but something magical happened in 2018 that re-launched this content as a premier trend. In fact, the top-viewed videos (all-time) mentioning “my morning routine” were published in 2018, showing that 2018 was truly the year of the morning routine trend revival:
With the exception of maybe two of these channels, all of the most-viewed morning routine content creators are KIDS/FAMILY channels. Absolutely wild, since we tend to correlate the morning routine trend with female fashion/makeup vloggers talking about their skincare, food/diet, and workout schedules, no?
Many of these channels that hit on success in 2018 continued making morning routine videos - a lot of them:
For these creators making the MOST morning routine content, the most common starter year was 2017 - right after the “great depression” of morning routine videos.
Another cool thing about trends is that, usually, if you become well-known for a particular trope of content, people FLOCK to it. Just check out how many of these creators that made the most morning routines videos are also the most-watched:
… and the most-liked:
Brands pick up on these trends - not always so quickly as audiences do - and that’s why studying the pattern of specific topics over time as we have here can help any creator and marketer understand the engagement and lifetime of different types of content to help grow their brand. To date, there are 1800+ brands sponsoring morning routine content, around 400 brands a month doing at least one sponsored partnership with at least one creator.
Another trend that has not withstood the test of time is the popular gaming video, a “let’s play” - you know, the type of video you look for when you just CAN’T defeat the final boss or a particularly tough level.
The number of videos mentioning ‘let’s play’ content dominates the gaming world, but comes from a variety of content creators across Entertainment, Lifestyle, and even Crafts. The audiences of these creators are valued at different rates by brands who may want to appear within a ‘let’s play’ video, as we can see from the content TYPE brands are appearing in, and the trend of brands paying money for sponsored content over time.
To put it simply, as time goes on, there are less and less YouTube videos from an ever-shrinking pool of content creators discussing “let’s play” content - but the number of brands partnering with creators has strangely remained relatively consistent (with a bit of a lift towards 2020 and this year). This doesn’t follow the morning routine trend we just investigated, like, AT ALL.
Interpreting the data, this means that the pool of Gamers, Entertainers, and Lifestyle/Crafts channels that are making ENGAGING ‘let’s play’ videos are a pretty elite group. They’ve managed to stand the test of time and the ebb and flow of new creators coming in and out of this “let’s play” gaming content world and have resoundingly loyal audiences that brands return to time and time again to engage.
The biggest indicator that this is the case is the AVERAGE MENTIONS:
The top brands sponsoring “let’s play” content from 2016 onward have sponsored the SAME creator anywhere from nine to 45 times over a span of five years. Most of these brands are still sponsoring “let’s play” content as recently as yesterday!
Just as predicted, the pool of creators that they return to are elites - ExpressVPN has over 120M total views from just nine gamer channels making over 500 videos with them! And they jumped into this world in 2019 - actually astounding how well they’ve made this content work for their UA campaigns.
Then we have someone like Elgato, who has worked with the most channels on ‘let’s play’ videos (40 YouTubers to date), and they’ve still struck an average of six sponsorships with each of these creators for 17M total views. They’ve been at this game - no pun intended - the longest with their first “let’s play” integration going live in August 2014, in fact.
In short, trends can be volatile - they can be stubbornly consistent - and they can make or break a creator channel or brand’s image in many cases. There’s only one way to be sure, and that’s to check your trends. Like I said, we got you covered! Sign up for ThoughtLeader’s Trends Page here.