At the end of last year YouTube launched a cool new product called YouTube Trends, an awesome blog and dashboard tool that explores videos that are trending on YouTube right now. You can use the dashboard to discover the most shared and most viewed videos across countries and demographics, and explore the YouTube Trends blog to learn about the topics and videos that are going viral as we speak. I had the opportunity to ask YouTube Trends Manager Kevin Allocca a few questions about his job, how trending videos are discovered, what makes a video go viral and more. Find out what Kevin had to say below.
Before we get to my interview with Kevin, check out the fun video (feat. The Gregory Brothers), which kicked off the launch of YouTube Trends last December.
And now, on to the interview!
Megan at Social Times: How does it feel to have the most awesome job in the world? No, but seriously—do you love it?
Kevin Allocca: I admit, I have a pretty unusual job. Imagine if every day you got to sit down with the smartest people around to figure out the best way to identify everybody’s favorite things on the internet. But it can be incredibly arduous as well. Do you have any idea how many times I’ve heard “Friday?”
[Megan: And on that note, I will take this as an opportunity to gratuitously embed the video for ‘Friday’, for those of you who haven’t gotten enough yet.]
Megan: Can you tell us anything about the system you guys use to measure and analyze trends on YouTube? (I have this picture in my head of you sitting in front of this huge mega-computer that’s beeping and shirring and spouting out receipts with the names of videos on them…I’m sure it’s nothing like that really.)
Kevin: We actually have a team of individuals with pre-cognizant abilities who work to telepathically identify videos that will go viral and laser-etch the links onto wooden balls that travel through a series of tubes to my desk each day for posting on YouTube Trends.
In addition, we measure recent videos that are being heavily shared, drawing lots of searches, or generating buzz on ‘taste-maker’ sites and are also picking up views rapidly. We use our Trends Dashboard tool—which is available to the public—to identify videos that are gaining popularity in specific U.S. or global locations.
Megan: Can you make any observations about the types of content that are likely to go viral?
Kevin: What “goes viral” across the mainstream varies wildly. Looking at the most viewed clips from the past month, you have everything from Japanese tsunami footage to Charlie Sheen parodies, both of which were heavily shared. Feel-good stories and clever humor often do very well, and videos that grow a conversation around them are more likely to take off as well. Many times, videos go viral just among specific communities—like sports, gaming, dancing—and those videos can pick up a lot of attention by connecting with that audience just right.
Megan: Do you find yourself looking at the world differently now that you are completely immersed in the world of YouTube viral videos?
Kevin: As far as viral videos are concerned, I don’t think so. I would say that my standards for being entertained in a 3-minute time frame have probably gone up considerably.
At the same time, being partially immersed in footage from the Middle East and Northern Africa over the past two months has certainly changed the way I look at a lot of things. It has definitely increased my respect for the power of the video medium.
Megan: Finally, what is your favorite viral video of recent months?
Kevin: I particularly love videos that involve some sort of talent/skill that took someone an incredible amount of time to obtain, but at the end of the day, “Double Rainbow” is, basically, transcendent. There’s just so much joy in that video, I can’t even think about it without cracking up even though I’ve seen it about 9,000 times.
[Megan: I certainly concur about Double Rainbow. Lets make it 9,001!]
Megan O’Neill is the resident web video enthusiast here at Social Times. Megan covers everything from the latest viral videos to online video news and tips, and has a passion for bizarre, original and revolutionary content and ideas.