People post videos to YouTube about virtually everything, from personal home videos to news shows, educational materials, travel clips, comedy, political rants and more. However, when it comes to the videos that go truly viral not every subject has the right stuff. An analysis of the most-viewed YouTube videos of all time shows that there are a number of topics that seem to top the charts when it comes to hitting the big time in the world of web video.
Nearly all of the most-viewed videos on YouTube fit into the following seven categories. You can look to these topics for inspiration if you are trying to create the next YouTube hit to shock, awe and entertain the world.
If you take a look at a list of the most viewed YouTube videos of all time you’ll notice that about half of them are music videos. Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, Pitbull, and Vanessa Hudgens top the charts with over 100 million views each. Music videos go viral for different reasons than other types of YouTube videos – people hear a song on the radio or see the video on MTV and if they want to hear it again or share it with their friends they head straight to YouTube. If a song is topping the Billboard charts, odds are it’s booming on YouTube as well.
Unfortunately, unless you are a hit recording artist with a catchy song and an entourage of sexy backup dancers, odds are you aren’t going to claim YouTube fame with a music video.
Kids and Babies
People seem to get a real kick out of kids and babies. Two out of the top five YouTube videos of all time are baby clips – ‘Charlie bit my finger – again!‘ at number 1 and ‘Hahaha‘, a clip of a slightly deranged baby laughing as his parents make weird noises, at number 5. ‘David After Dentist‘ and ‘I don’t like you Mommy’ are also kid videos that went extremely viral.
Part of the appeal of kids and babies videos is that there is something so true and pure about them. These kids don’t know they are being funny – they’re just being kids, and we thrive on that innocence. If you’ve got kids at home, keep your video camera handy as you never know when your child may provide you with the next ‘Charlie bit my finger’ moment. However, don’t try to stage something funny with your kids – YouTubers can see right through you and fakers don’t go viral.
A kid plays the electric guitar like Hendrix, Susan Boyle and 6-year old Connie Talbot wow Simon Cowell on Britain’s Got Talent and, most recently, Taiwanese Lin Yu Chun sings I Will Always Love You as over 3.5 million viewers watch on YouTube in the first three days. People are suckers for talent, and even more so for unexpected talent.
You don’t expect a skinny kid to be able to rock out like a master on electric guitar or a homely, unemployed woman to knock Simon Cowell’s socks off on live television and it is this element of utter shock and surprise that makes these videos go viral in a matter of minutes. These are the videos that everyone talks about. Take a person who doesn’t look like anything special, show them doing something truly amazing and you’ve hit one of YouTube’s most popular niches.
WTF?! videos are my personal favorite category of YouTube classics. These are the videos that make you say “WTF?!” over and over again as you watch them. These videos are so weird that you have no idea what the people who made them were thinking, but you just can’t stop watching.
One of the most popular WTF?! videos, with over 78 million views is ‘Potter Puppet Pals in “The Mysterious Ticking Noise”‘. Also included in this category are ‘An Experiment’, in which a girl in a bathtub explodes soda all over her hair while yelling “Nookie! Nookie! Nookie!”; ‘“Chocolate Rain” Original Song by Tay Zonday‘, in which a kid sings with a shockingly low voice; and ‘Charlie The Unicorn’, a weird animation about unicorns with an ending that will really make you say “WTF?!”
Offensive comedy also tops the charts when it comes to videos that go viral on YouTube. Jeff Dunham’s ‘Achmed the Dead Terrorist‘ ventriloquist act is YouTube’s seventh most viewed video, with over 110 million views. In this clip, a “terrifying terrorist” puppet jokes about suicide bombing and anti-Semitism. It’s horribly offensive and absolutely hilarious!! The Lonely Island’s music video ‘Jizz In My Pants’ is another great example of offensive comedy going viral on YouTube.
If you are thinking of pushing the envelope with an offensively funny video, just make sure you offend tastefully. Remember that there’s a thin line between humorous and inappropriate. However, if you can pull off just the right combination of humor and insult without being distasteful you could be in for YouTube fame and glory.
It’s a well-known fact that sex sells, and YouTube is no exception to this rule. For starters, nearly all of the most-viewed music videos on YouTube are chock-full of half naked, beautiful women. That’s right – just as many people are watching these videos for their sex appeal as they are for the music.
Sex talk is also big on YouTube. User Kicesie is the leader on this front. Kicesie video blogs about anything and everything having to do with sex. Her video ‘Relationship Perfection’, an advice clip about oral sex, has over 70 million views. Keep in mind that, as with offensive comedy, it is important to be tasteful when making videos about sex.
Pets and Animals
Although there aren’t a huge number of animal videos on YouTube’s most viewed videos list there is no doubt that pets and animal videos have the ability to go hugely viral. Everyone loves looking at animals – especially ridiculously cute animals. If you see a video of an adorable, big-eyed critter like ‘Slow loris loves getting tickled’ the first thing you’ll do is share it with all your friends. The same goes for a sneezing baby panda or a cute little French bulldog that can’t roll over.
If you have a video of your pet or any cute animal doing something sickly sweet and absolutely adorable, upload it to YouTube. People just can’t seem to resist good pets and animal videos.
If you can think of any other viral topics or want to share any of your favorite viral videos, feel free to share!
Image found via MasterNewMedia