There are few things on earth more fascinating than human beings. We run—an activity that our ancestors did to escape predators. We eat white ovals that come out of chickens. We freak out at the possibility of fainting, but make an effort to be unconscious for seven to eight hours every night. And we love watching videos of people destroying things.
There might be no online network that showcases the weird habits of human beings better than YouTube. With 300 hours of video uploaded to the site every minute, there are abundant opportunities for our weird to show. And there’s a video to satisfy any curiosity or off-the-beaten-path interest one might have.
But these niche communities aren’t as niche as one might think. Unusual internet phenomena run rampant on YouTube, soaring in popularity before you can utter the word ‘viral.’ To try and understand what makes video content skyrocket in views, we took a look at some YouTube sensations you might not have known were popular, and found key lessons you can use for your own marketing strategies—weirdness encouraged, but not required.
Bonus: Download a free guide that reveals the exact steps one entrepreneur took to gain more than 23,000,000 views on YouTube with no budget and no expensive gear.
What’s in my bag?
Key video approach: Behind-the-scenes content
This YouTube phenomenon includes popular fashion, beauty, or lifestyle vloggers showcasing the contents of their bags. While a seemingly mundane topic, there is a mammoth interest in these types of videos. As blogger Ink and Leathers explains, “I’m intrigued by the banality of the videos, of seeing strangers show me their favorite type of chewing gum, or a pen that they stole from a doctor’s office, or the scrap of fabric from that dress fitting six months ago.”
Audience members turn to these YouTube influencers for advice on shopping, beauty products, and lifestyle must-haves. And the ‘what’s in my bag?’ format provides an intimate, behind-the-scenes look at the items that they recommend and use themselves. As Octoly explains, “The relationship between YouTube beauty gurus and their fans is an intimate, personal one, based on trust and transparency.”
While an exact ‘what’s in my bag?’ format may not be a good fit for your brand, the core idea of providing a behind-the-scenes look at your business is one that you can definitely apply to your video marketing efforts. Share a YouTube video of a day in your offices, a look into the production processes of your products (if applicable), a mashup of office dog moments, interviews with employees, or any other creative way you feel you can showcase a behind-the-scenes look at your brand.
When your audience gets the chance to see not just the calm duck above water, but the rapidly paddling feet underneath, the entire perception of your brand can be positively influenced. As ClickZ says, “Providing users with a glimpse behind the scenes not only gives them something more to explore, but lends authenticity to the content itself.”
Things being crushed
Key video approach: Use your industry expertise and resources
There are few things on YouTube more satisfying than extreme videos of dominoes being toppled. That is, until this year’s phenomenon of things being crushed by a hydraulic press became the face of video destruction. Since October 2015, Finnish YouTuber Lauri Vuohensilta has filmed videos of crushing objects for his account, Hydraulic Press Channel, which has gained 700,000 subscribers and nearly 51 million total views in just seven months.
This YouTube phenomenon started when Vuohensilta amazingly shattered a piece of seven-times folded paper under 300 bars of pressure (i.e. a lot of pressure). Since then, most of his videos have gained over 1 million views in mere days. As the owner of a factory that produces building supplies, Vuohensilta has access to countless materials he can experiment with. This love of destroying things didn’t come out of nowhere. As a child, Vuohensilta would crush things such as smaller rocks and toy cars with bigger rocks.
If you have access to a hydraulic press, the popularity of crushing objects might be one you can use for your own business, but if you’re like most people and don’t have easy access to heavy machinery there are still lessons to be learned from this YouTube sensation. Vuohensilta’s videos are a perfect recipe of creativity mixed with the materials and items he has on hand.
Think about what makes your business unique and sets it apart from other products or services in the industry. These qualities are what you can use for your YouTube content. Does the glass cleaner your company make cut through dirt amazingly? Clean the grossest, most intense messes you can think of and film it. Could you showcase the artisanal dog treats your brand sells being devoured by different dogs around the world? Demonstrate that your brand is an authority and expert in the field. Use resources you have access to, and think about all the possible ways these materials or knowledge could be showcased through video.
Bonus: Download a free guide that reveals the exact steps one entrepreneur took to gain more than 23,000,000 views on YouTube with no budget and no expensive gear.Get the free guide right now!
Key video approach: Instructional and how-to video content
If I had a dime for every time I got sucked into the contouring video vortex, I’d be a wealthy gal. Contouring—the act of applying different shades of contrasting makeup to shape and sculpt the face—used to be a technique reserved for high fashion shows.
Thanks to YouTube, contouring has become a worldwide phenomenon. There are hundreds of thousands of videos showing contouring tips and tricks, as well as the routines of popular YouTube beauty vloggers. Even if you don’t intend to contour your face, the videos are hypnotizing to watch.
As Allure explains, “Despite the time and expense (hello—a decent sculpt-and-powder brush can run you $50), there’s a seductive quality to how attainable the whole thing feels. Anyone who’s watched the sped-up portion of a YouTube contouring video knows how deeply satisfying it is to see upside-down triangles of taupe, dun, and white turn into brighter eyes, lifted cheekbones, a shrunken chin, and a pert nose.”
While your business may not be ready to make a contouring video, you can definitely be inspired by the popularity of instructional YouTube content. As our post “A Guide to Social Video” explains, “How-to videos are among the most popular search queries on YouTube, and a great way to offer value to customers.”
Over 100 million hours of ‘how-to’ video content was watched on YouTube in 2015, up 70 percent from the previous year. Think about what your customers could learn from your brand, product, or service.
As our guide recommends, “Use how-to videos to show your customers how best to use your products, or as a brand awareness tool. For example, if you run a bicycle repair shop, creating an instructional video of how to fix a broken bike chain could be an effective way to showcase your skills and put you on the radar of local cyclists.”
Key video approach: Tap into viewer emotion
The main reason for creating a new human is to have a source of endless social media content, and the phenomenon of pregnancy announcement videos are just the beginning of this. I’ve definitely found myself clicking on videos with titles like “First-time grandparents pregnancy announcement!” and “Best pregnancy announcements compilation” (hey, I don’t judge your online viewing habits).
When discussing this phenomenon, Grandparents.com explains, “The unbridled passion and emotion of the moment leap through the computer screen, touching even those of us who have no idea who Jen [the mother] is — or any of the other protagonists of the myriad videos that appear on YouTube, for that matter.”
Your brand might not have a baby announcement coming up anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t use emotion to tell your brand’s story. Most (if not all) purchasing decisions are driven by some sort of emotion, and “these feelings are powerful motivators and prompt your audience to take meaningful action.”
To help you tap into the power of feelings, ReelSeo provides four ways you can use emotion in your brand’s YouTube content:
- Tap into authentic human experience—”Tell stories that are real, that are true—that draw on genuine human experiences to tell a beautiful and inspiring story.”
- The power of positive thinking—”Researchers found that videos designed to produce negative emotional responses in viewers (especially anger) closed their minds from making a strategic decision, whereas videos designed to produce positive emotional responses from viewers opened their minds to making a strategic decision.”
- The delicate dance of logic and emotion—An emotional message shouldn’t come at the expense of actual information.
- Keep an eye to the future—”From their product to their brand voice to their messaging, big brands use video to make people feel optimism—not just about their brand, but about the future.”
Key video approach: Share practical brand information and highlight user-generated content
Human beings are fascinating creatures, and the YouTube phenomenon of unboxing videos truly drives this point home. Unboxing videos—where a user unwraps a product (commonly a consumer gadget, beauty product, or children’s toy) and shows it off to an online audience—have grown 57 percent in popularity since last year. As Google explains, “It would take more than seven years to watch all the videos on YouTube with “unboxing” in the title that have been uploaded so far just this year. And those videos have more than a billion views in this year alone.”
There’s something about the anticipation of seeing a product get unwrapped like a Christmas present that makes these videos so popular, with YouTube data showing that “34 percent of the views for unboxing videos related to food, electronics, toys, and beauty/fashion happen in the October to December time frame—that’s 1.5 times higher than the average volume of unboxing video views in other quarters.”
As a marketer, you can take the power of the anticipation built through unboxing videos and use it to share practical product information. With a Google Consumer Survey finding that 62 percent of people who view unboxing videos do so when researching a particular product, this genre of video is great for helping you get information out about your product in a popular format, to those who are actively searching for this type of content.
Unboxing videos are also a great way to encourage user-generated content. As our post on user-generated content explains, “Having many YouTube videos featuring your brand name in the description or the title helps increase your organization’s visibility in searches; being long-term Google property, YouTube videos are favored by the search engine in search results.” If this is a possibility for your company, send relevant YouTube users samples of your products in exchange for an unboxing video. Then, repost these videos to your own YouTube channel and other social media networks to provide exposure to these ambassadors.
There is no rhyme or reason for many of the most popular YouTube phenomena, but many learnings that can be applied to your own brand’s video efforts.
You might also like: Using Hootsuite to manage your social video content.