Where can you go to learn something new, be entertained and find an eight-hour stream of relaxing forest scenes? YouTube, of course.
If you haven’t put much thought into your YouTube marketing strategy, this is your sign to start. YouTube has been around since the internet’s early days—more than half of consumers anticipated YouTube would be the platform they used the most in 2022, trailing only Facebook, according to The Sprout Social Index™.
And that popularity is one of the most compelling reasons for marketers to incorporate YouTube in their strategies. In the US, 62% of YouTube users access the platform daily and spend an average of nearly half an hour consuming content.
So what’s hot on YouTube in 2023? In this article, let’s dive into 12 current and emerging YouTube trends you need to know to fuel your video strategy.
Current and emerging YouTube trends
Yes, YouTube is a jewel in any digital marketer’s crown. But just like any platform, social media trends on YouTube come and go.
The challenge lies in keeping track of what trending YouTube content is on the rise, what’s currently making waves and which trends are already on their way out. According to a recent Sprout Social survey of 300 marketers, 72% of respondents cite keeping up with changing social media trends as their biggest challenge in the upcoming year.
Use this list of 12 relevant YouTube trends to inspire your own content.
1. Short-form video
Not all YouTube trends are conceptual—some are all about format.
It’s no secret that vertical short-form video content is king. According to The Sprout Social Index™, consumers prefer short-form video 2.5x more than long-form.
If you’re not binging TikTok videos or Instagram Reels daily, you likely know someone who is. And YouTube is getting in on the action with YouTube Shorts, which already garner billions of average daily views.
This still-new mobile-first feature allows YouTube to capitalize on the popularity of short-form video and the fact that 70% of its viewership comes from mobile devices. And for brands, this current YouTube trend provides an opportunity to get in front of new users, increase their following and even boost profit.
Pro tip: If you’re already sharing bite-sized videos on TikTok or Instagram Reels, repurpose it into YouTube Shorts.
Brand bringing this trend to life: Spotify
Spotify uses Shorts to promote events and promote or repurpose podcast content. To promote their booth at VidCon 2022, the brand published a series of Shorts detailing the environment and the experience for those who could not attend in person.
2. Live videos
Live video isn’t new, but it’s also not out. Consumers rank live video the third-most engaging content type, according to The Sprout Social Index™.
Viewers also stick with live videos a whopping 10-20x longer than pre-recorded content. That gives you a lot more time to make an impression. And brands also have the ability to interact with their audiences in real time, building community and boosting authenticity.
Brand bringing this trend to life: Coachella
In 2022, the Coachella music festival livestreamed on YouTube for both event weekends. This not only brought the energy of the in-person event to people around the world, but also gave at-home viewers access to exclusive promotions and artist interviews.
3. Social commerce
Social commerce functionality has been a major focus for many of the top platforms over the last few years. It’s said that in 2023, 45% of customers will prefer to buy straight from their favorite platforms.
YouTube is no exception. The network continues to expand its shopping capabilities. In July 2022, YouTube announced a partnership with Shopify that will make it easier for sellers to manage their products and stores. They even introduced a new Shopping section in the Explore tab that makes discovering products easy.
Live shopping is also an option for brands or the creators they work with. Brands or creators can tag products when they go live to encourage purchasing. Livestreams are popular shopping tools—70% of participants prefer livestreams to other types of social purchasing.
Brand bringing this trend to life: Sephora
Not all brands are currently taking advantage of the suite of social commerce tools available on YouTube. Those that are, like Sephora, have set up their virtual storefronts to allow customers to browse featured products directly on YouTube.
4. Creator-led content
Here’s the thing. Consumers are never going to trust brand-created content as much as they will creator-led content. Creators humanize brands and offer an authentic voice.
Good creators understand and connect with their audiences, which in turn, makes those viewers trust them. So much so that YouTube audiences are 17% more loyal to top influencers than they are to media companies.
The creator economy is more than just a buzzword in the industry. Considering 87% of viewers agree that YouTube creators give recommendations they can trust, partnering with them can expand your audience and build trust. So it makes sense that 42% of marketers hire content creators to create unboxing or reveal content.
Brand bringing this trend to life: Zara
Clothing brand Zara is no stranger to creator partnerships. Their TikTok account is fueled by how-tos and outfit inspiration featuring fashion and beauty creators.
They’ve also taken this strategy to YouTube and YouTube Shorts. Videos featuring creators and their makeup routines rack up anywhere from 100K to nearly a million views, outperforming many of their brand-led videos.
They even use the hashtag #ZaraCreators to highlight, bucket and track this specific content.
5. Brand storytelling
Consumers like stories. Brands that use storytelling well connect with their audiences around shared values and experiences, and they convey authenticity.
One of the best ways to ensure your brand storytelling hits the mark is by developing it based on voice-of-customer feedback. Using social listening tools to keep track of rapidly shifting consumer expectations and preferences (and deliver upon them) can help your brand stand out in your industry.
Brand bringing this trend to life: Yeti
Yeti has built a sizable following on YouTube, many of which subscribed to get access to its fun and offbeat storytelling videos.
One entertaining series pits the brand’s coolers against multiple challenges to test their renowned strength and durability. While other videos show their products used in action, like the “Raw Bar” video below.
For brands looking to improve their relationships with their audience, take a page out of Yeti’s playbook by developing a plan to integrate more storytelling into your YouTube channel.
While livestream gaming saw a dip in 2022, this YouTube trend isn’t going anywhere. In Q3 of 2022, YouTube live gaming saw 1.17 billion hours of watched content. And this year, many big-name streamers have left streaming giant Twitch for YouTube.
Even if you’re not a gaming brand, there are lessons to be learned from the popularity of this content. At the end of the day, it’s about connection. A Google survey found that “reactions” and “commentary” from YouTube gamers is a major reason people tune in to watch live gaming.
Brands bringing this trend to life: Corsair and Monterey Bay Aquarium
It’s no surprise when a company like Playstation or a pop-culture-forward media company livestreams games.
But livestreaming “let’s plays” can be a lot more than just fun and (video) games for brands. It’s an interactive, fun way to build community and loyalty first, while promoting your brand and products in the background.
PC hardware and gaming company CORSAIR played Tiny Tina’s Wonderland on a livestream with several guest players. But they also actively demonstrated Corsair products their audience would benefit from and hosted a live giveaway.
Even if your audience isn’t necessarily made up of gaming enthusiasts, there still may be a way to bring live gaming into your strategy. Monterey Bay Aquarium played Animal Crossing and stayed true to their brand by talking about the different species of aquatic animals in the game.
7. Relaxing or comforting content
Over the last few years, many of us have leaned hard into comfort content to take our minds off the negative news cycle. Ted Lasso, anyone?
This phenomenon is true on YouTube, too. People turn to the network for videos that can help them relax or feel comforted. The vast majority (83%) of Gen Z have used YouTube videos to relax while 69% say they return to content or creators that feel comfortable to them.
Whether this means you’re following along with Yoga with Adriene, watching waves roll in on a beach in Bora Bora or watching a morning routine video, this trending YouTube content can help us all decompress from the stress of daily life.
Brand bringing this trend to life: Calm
Calm, a brand known for producing the feeling that their name suggests, leverages YouTube in much the same way they do their own app—to produce a state of relaxation and tranquility.
Whether it’s a guided meditation, the brand’s unique “sleep stories” or how-tos, Calm is catering to a growing consumer preference for content that mellows rather than excites.
8. YouTube for the TV
Not to be confused with YouTube TV, which allows subscribers to watch live TV from more than 85 channels, the TV app seeks to allow you to search and use the YouTube app on your TV.
On average, as of January 2022 viewers watched over 700 million hours of YouTube on their TVs daily. And as part of its 2022 roadmap, YouTube prioritized plans to enhance that functionality, and make it easier to sync the mobile and big screen viewing experiences.
Many YouTube users engage with videos on their mobile devices while watching the same content on TV. Brands can make the most of this trend by tapping into interactive YouTube features that keep viewers’ attention on your content, particularly long-form and live video.
Brand bringing this trend to life: Sports Illustrated’s Mile High Huddle podcast
Super Chats allow followers to purchase a spotlight in the chat feeds of their favorite brands’ and creators’ livestreams. Pay a few dollars, and your message will stay pinned to the top of the chatbox for up to five hours. Sports Illustrated’s Mile High Huddle podcast takes advantage of this new tool as the hosts engage with fans on the live video version of their show.
9. 360-degree video
Though introduced about seven years ago, 360-degree video had a moment in 2022.
In May 2022, Bad Bunny released a 360-degree music video for “Party” on YouTube. Flip it one way and you’re watching serene waves rolling in on a beach; another way, you’ll see the rapper and friends lounging and hanging out under a tropical sun. Imagine being invited to hang out with a famous musician and a small group of his closest friends on a private beach.
Nine out of 10 Gen Zers say they watch YouTube videos to feel like they’re in a different place, according to the YouTube Culture and Trends report. What can brands take from this? Consumers are looking to immerse themselves in content that is transportive.
What elements of your brand would people want to dive feet-first into?
Brand bringing this trend to life: Universal Orlando Resort
Universal Orlando Resort uses 360-degree video to provide an immersive view of their rides and experiences. Users can get a bird’s eye view of what it might feel like to jump on the Jurassic World VelociCoaster, hearing the cinematic music playing as you go upside-down through a corkscrew or pivoting around to see the delighted faces of your fellow thrill seekers in the rows behind you.
10. Cross-platform storytelling and multi-format content
Content you create for longer horizontal and shorter vertical YouTube videos doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive. Short-form, vertical video is preferred, but that doesn’t mean horizontal video is dead. In fact, 58% of Gen Z agree they use short-form video apps to discover videos they go on to watch longer versions of.
Tell stories across multiple formats. If you have a longer YouTube video you want to drive people to, create unique, bite-sized YouTube Shorts to promote that larger content.
This method is tried-and-true on the creator front. In the past year, creators who told stories using multiple formats had the fastest-growing audiences.
Pro tip: Don’t be afraid to repurpose all of these content pieces on other platforms. YouTube Shorts can easily be turned into Reels and TikToks to tell cross-platform stories.
Brand bringing this trend to life: Shopify
Shopify was quick to adopt YouTube Shorts. They create stand-alone Shorts, but also create Shorts that tease their longer, horizontal video content.
One Shopify Short educates their audience about a machine called a Cricut. But it also promotes a longer video to create interest and drive viewers to long-form content. And with 18K views, this Short was as much a powerful piece of content as it was a teaser.
By the time their longer, horizontal-form video was dropped, they had an -interested audience expecting the content. This is an excellent use of multi-format content that tells a story in a few different ways.
11. The new meme content
Hot take: memes have changed.
Thanks to platforms and formats like TikTok and Instagram Reels, trending sounds and videos have created a new way to meme.
For example, in previous years the “it’s corn” viral trend may have existed as a viral video alone (and an earworm). But today, brands were able to create their own content using this trending song—an audio and visual “meme,” if you will.
And memes, silly as they seem, are tried and true—57% of Gen Z agrees they like it when brands join in on memes.
Brand bringing this trend to life: Sprout Social
Not to toot our own horn. But this YouTube Short is a great example of adapting trending audio and changing the text on the video to tell a new story. Just like you would on a traditional, photo-based meme.
Pro tip: Some YouTube trends are evergreen. Some come and go. In addition to jumping on trending memes and audio, keep track of YouTube trending content and think about how you can adapt those topics into stories that make sense for your brand to tell.
See what’s trending on the explore tab in the YouTube app, or on desktop.
12. Community-first content
Social media has become more personalized. From large online communities like Booktok to content buckets like ASMR, whole communities have formed around hyper-specific topics.
And content relevance matters—65% of Gen Z agree that personally-relevant content is more important than content that tons of people are talking about, according to the YouTube Culture and Trends report.
Knowing your audience is just step one. Take it a step further and lean on them to guide your content. People want to engage deeply and connect with others who are interested in the same things they are. If you have more than 1,000 subscribers on the platform, you have access to YouTube’s Community tab, which allows you to carve out a dedicated forum for your audience. Think of it almost like a Facebook or Instagram feed within your YouTube channel.
Brand bringing this trend to life: Nerdist
From answering FAQs via video to letting your audience decide what your next video will be about, there are countless ways to create audience-led content.
Nerdist uses audience input to fuel their Nerdist Book Club series. They use Twitter to poll their audience about what book they all want to read next.
Then, they host their book club on YouTube Live where they have a live chat to engage with their audience and discuss the book in real time.
Respond to (and anticipate) YouTube trending content
If you’re serious about making YouTube a major part of your brand’s social media strategy, you need to stay up to date on trending YouTube formats and content. You don’t want to refresh your strategy with YouTube trends or references that are already old news.
But some YouTube trending content is fairly timeless and can be folded into your strategy seamlessly. This list is a great place to start.
Tap into these trends to elevate your strategy. And as you ramp up your content on the platform, check out how our YouTube integration streamlines scheduling, measuring and managing your YouTube content and community.
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