For brands, relevancy means tapping into modern culture. And modern culture unfolds daily on YouTube. In this second installment of “YouTube Trends of the Moment for Savvy Advertisers,” Earnest Pettie—a YouTube trends analyst who spots videos piquing viewers’ interests—shares three kinds of videos trending now and the insights they reveal.
Fortnite: The video game that has become a cultural phenomenon
Despite being having only been around for a year, Fortnite Battle Royale has emerged to become one of the biggest games on YouTube.
Challenging the titans: In February, Fortnite blew past Grand Theft Auto V and Minecraft in uploads from people making Fortnite-related videos, setting a record for the most videos uploaded about a game in a month. It has also become second only to Minecraft in watch time generated from these uploads.
Who to keep an eye on: In the past month, Ninja became the fastest creator to hit 10 million subscribers. He made big waves when Drake called him during a livestream and he got Drake and several other celebrities to play Fortnite with him. He broke a livestream record with that gaming session, and then that record was broken by Spain’s most-subscribed creator, El Rubius, who had more than 1 million people tune in concurrently to watch him play Fortnite with other creators.
Why should anyone care about a game? In an impressively short amount of time, Fortnite has become something you have to know about if you want to be conversant in pop culture. It is a prime example of how compelling content can engage consumers and create passionate communities. While game fads can come and go, Fortnite has created a continuously growing community, attracting both new and seasoned gamers from all backgrounds. It’s been described as transcending racial and gender boundaries, making it more appealing for a broader audience and showing the power of widely palatable content.
The Korean Wave by way of K-Pop
The Korean Wave, or “Hallyu,” is the export of Korean culture to the rest of the world. K-Pop is one of the primary vehicles for that cultural export, as seen in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. With K-Pop boy band BTS leading the craze, it seems as though that wave is finally crashing on our shores.
Oppa Gangnam Style: K-Pop in the U.S. has been largely represented by one man: Psy. Psy’s 2013 release, Gangnam Style, was the most-viewed video on YouTube until last summer. The video was also the first to reach 1 billion and 2 billion views. Although the song was popular, K-Pop was not seen as a major cultural force in music in America. That has changed with the emergence of BTS, the first K-Pop artists to have a No. 1 album in the U.S., as the U.S. is actually the single largest contributor of views for BTS’ music.
The biggest 24-hour debut of the year: Earlier this year, BTS member J-Hope crashed the Billboard charts, becoming the highest-charting K-Pop solo artist in the album charts’ history with the release of his solo mixtape. That primed the pump for the return of the group, whose Fake Love video became the most-viewed 24-hour debut of any video on YouTube this year.
Catch the wave: Hallyu has grown in prominence to become a major driver of global culture, seen in everything like Korean skincare regimens, Korean drama series and Korean tacos at your local restaurant. At a time in history with extremely heightened geopolitical tension, South Korea’s hosting of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang marked a whole new kind of sociopolitical significance for K-Pop, as Korea was able to showcase its best-known export to the world.
Face reveals show creators’ true selves
Face reveal videos, in which previously unseen creators reveal their faces on camera for the first time, are a unique manifestation of the creator/audience relationship on YouTube. Creators often use face reveal videos as a reward for reaching subscriber-count milestones. The popularity of this format has seen strong growth, with face reveal videos experiencing a 31 times increase in average monthly uploads between 2014 and 2018.
The creators’ practical joke: While many creators use face reveal videos as a reward for their subscribers, others use them to prank their subscribers. The most popular face reveal video of all-time was released just before April Fool’s Day this year, and it was a practical joke played by the creator on his audience. The face reveal, in both its sincere and prank form, demonstrates the depth of the bond between creator and audience.
What’s special about face reveal videos? Audiences on YouTube form para-social relationships with creators, in which audiences feel like they know creators as well as they know their friends—a feeling encouraged by creators. Those relationships contribute to audiences’ expectations that creators will be open with them, showing their authentic selves. Marketers and creatives need to be aware of these unique relationships on YouTube to recognize the level of authenticity they are expected to compete with. Face reveal videos demonstrate the power of connection you need to have if you want your message to resonate.