It’s hard to stay on top of what’s trending - there’s no guarantee that YouTube trends that were ‘popular’ a year ago, or even a week ago, are still relevant today. The YouTube algorithm is built in a way that it promotes trending videos, meaning that content creators from all different kinds of niches want to jump on the bandwagon, before it’s too late. Brands also know that getting with the latest YouTube trends will make sure they stay relevant, and also increases the chances that new viewers will see the sponsorship since it’s being featured on a video that’s ‘cool’. Want to know what YouTube trends are currently popular on the video viewing platform? Say no more.
I’m not the only one who’s noticed the influx of “reacting to” videos on the YouTube homepage. Whether it’s the content creator recording their own reactions, or filming other people’s reactions (like their kids, friends, or parents), there are thousands of videos on YouTube, capturing the raw reactions to music videos, movies, fails, announcements, and so much more. Sharing a simple facial expression could be your rise to fame, just like it was for Khaby Lame, who is currently the most followed account on TikTok, with 146.2 million followers.
Why are so many creators flocking to join in on this YouTube trend? Well, The Publish Press said it best - “reaction videos typically take less time and money than other high-production videos, making them easier to upload more frequently”. At the end of the day, more content means more ad inventory. There’s also science that explains the success of these types of videos - the existence of mirror neurons in our brains lets us enjoy and empathize when we watch other people’s emotions.
Reaction videos can be created in pretty much any YouTube category and can highlight the many sides to a creator’s personality. The surprise factor that is inherent in the reaction videos allows for unscripted impulses and responses, appealing to a new subset of reaction-style fans, who may have otherwise not previously watched that creator’s videos.
Some creators choose to format their entire channel on a ‘reaction video’ format, while others choose to sprinkle in the reaction videos here and there, along with their regular content. Danny Gonzalez is a great example of an incredibly successful ‘reaction video’ channel - he posts his unfiltered and humorous videos of him reacting to TikToks, movies, and ads for different products and services. This channel format is working pretty well for Danny - he’s amassed a following of 5.5 million and his video views are always in the millions.
Jamie, from TheStriveToFit, posted a few ‘reaction videos’ alongside her content about what it’s like being an emergency medicine doctor. As a doctor, she chose to react to medical dramas, like Grey’s Anatomy and New Amsterdam, giving her honest opinions on the accuracy of these incredibly popular shows. These videos appealed to Jamie’s regular viewers, as well as fans of these specific shows, that may have not encountered Jamie’s channel before now.
Challenges have always been a core component of virality on YouTube - the epitome of YouTube trends, if you will. The ice bucket challenge, the cinnamon challenge, and the chubby bunny challenge are just a couple of challenges that have reached global popularity, as well as millions of views. Recently, challenge-based videos on YouTube have also shifted into becoming more philanthropic - meaning that after the challenge is completed, the creator will donate a large sum of money to those in need. This way, the videos are entertaining but are also providing for those less fortunate - and who doesn’t love to watch a video and feel like they supported a great cause?
Ryan Trahan is a great example of this recent development in YouTube challenge videos. If you’ve scrolled through YouTube over the last month, you probably saw that Ryan traveled from his house in Los Angeles, California to Greenville, North Carolina, starting out with just a single penny. Along his journey, Ryan was raising money for Feeding America, a hunger-relief charity. At the end of the 30 days, Ryan had raised $1.38 million for the charity. Along with a successful fundraiser, Ryan’s daily videos received millions of views and gained hundreds of thousands of new subscribers.
MrBeast, the most successful YouTube channel in 2021, is also no stranger to a good ‘ol challenge video. His most recent video, which is currently sitting at 42 million views, documented him not eating for 30 days (under constant medical supervision). A few years ago, MrBeast also made a video of him spending 50 hours in solitary confinement, which has been watched over 186 million times. Between his fundraising campaign in 2019 to plant 20 million trees, to him giving out cars for free, it’s no wonder that MrBeast is known as ‘YouTube's biggest philanthropist’.
How to jump on YouTube trends? YouTube couldn’t have become the successful search engine it is today (second to only Google) if people weren’t using it to learn new tricks and skills. Google has even made changes to its search engine to allow for ‘how-to’ videos to gain more traction. You may have noticed that when you type a question into Google, you get two types of results - one is text-based results and the second is how-to video results, straight from YouTube. So, instead of trying to understand how to bake the perfect fluffy chocolate chip cookies from the recipe alone, or how to work your brand new Canon camera from only the informational pamphlet, you can watch somebody on your screen guide you through each step, with simple instructions that are easy to follow.
‘How-to’ videos are also a great way for brands to showcase new products and services with the help of a content creator. A cooking channel could demonstrate how to use a new food blender while baking, or a photography channel could show their viewers how to use a new app to edit their photos. For example, Rosanna Pansino was sponsored by Nerdy Nummies and showcased how to bake the lemon pie that appears in their game, Hay Day.
This YouTube trend isn’t for everyone but, once you enter the ASMR niche, you can never go back. ASMR, which stands for ‘autonomous sensory meridian response’, refers to a pleasurable, tingling sensation throughout the scalp, neck, and spine that is triggered by aural and visual stimuli, like whispering or tapping. In 2015, searches for ASMR grew by 200%, and the trend has consistently been growing since.
One of the strengths of the ASMR YouTube trend is that it can be adopted into any popular niche on YouTube. The art channel, nisufilm, has various ASMR-style videos while she draws, paints, and journals. ediyasmr targets a number of different niches on her channel, creating ASMR content for skincare lovers, tarot card enthusiasts, and mediation fans.
ASMR has even become a large, if not integral, part of the Mukbang community on YouTube. Mukbang is the Korean term for ‘eating show’, in which the host consumes various quantities of food while interacting with the audience. It started out in South Korea around 2010 and quickly became a popular trend on YouTube, and all around the world. The two biggest Mukbang channels are also two channels that incorporate ASMR into their videos - Jane ASMR and Zach Choi ASMR. Jane doesn’t speak or show the top portion of her face in any of her videos, and has succeeded in growing her following to over 16.5 million subscribers. Her most popular video is her rainbow crepe cake video, which currently sits at 285 million views. Zach features all kinds of food on his channel - from lasagna to ramen, and even cheese sticks. Even when Zach is joined by other popular Mukbang creators, like Trisha Paytas and Nikocado Avocado, there’s no talking involved, only eating.
Although very little talking takes place in these ASMR Mukbang videos, many brands have found ways to integrate this type of content into their advertising. Unsurprisingly, a number of food-based brands have partnered with Mukbang-ers, but brands that are entirely unrelated to eating/food have also partnered up with these influencers - more on that here.
Success in content creation is all about engaging with your audience - creating a two-way dialogue pathway between the content creator and the viewer is what will allow for that organic growth. A great way to do this is ‘follower’ decided content, where the content creator leaves their fate up to somebody else, oftentimes their viewers.
This is just another YouTube trend that’s easy to adapt to different communities on the platform. For example, Jack Edwards, a popular book channel, let his followers pick the books he would read for a week, while sophdoeslife let her followers choose her makeup look. This trend also creates suspense and excitement as the video goes on - will the content creator enjoy what is chosen for them? This anticipation is what will cause the viewer to stay until the end of the video, which is no longer an easy feat to accomplish in 2022.
Who knows how long these YouTube trends will be considered the ‘top trends’ on YouTube, so you better get creating! Interested in staying up-to-date with the latest trends on YouTube? Check out ThoughtLeaders’s blog for the latest insights, and if you have any questions, get in touch today!