10 Lessons Learned from 2012's Most-Popular Videos

10 Lessons Learned from 2012s Most Popular Videos

Being that it is the first week of the new year, I thought it would be worthwhile for us to take a moment and reflect upon some of the lessons learned in 2012. So, for today's Creator's tip episode, I spent some time reviewing the top 10 most-watched videos of last year to highlight certain video marketing lessons that can be learned from each.

Lessons Learned in Video from 2012's Top-10 Viral Videos

10 Lessons Learned from 2012s Most Popular Videos1) Psy - Gangnam Style
Seed your videos.  Creating great content and putting it up regularly is only the first part of having a successful channel.  After that you need to be sure to engage with your audience.

10 Lessons Learned from 2012s Most Popular Videos2) Somebody That I Used to Know - Walk Off the Earth
While original content is important, sometimes utilizing something else that is out there and adapting it to make it your own can be just as effective as was done with this music cover.

10 Lessons Learned from 2012s Most Popular Videos3) KONY 2012
Your video does not need to be short to have a successful video on YouTube.  In fact, many of the new statistics point to videos that are longer than 2-3 minutes are shared more often, possibly because there is more time for your audience to have a more emotional connection resulting in them forwarding the link to other people.

10 Lessons Learned from 2012s Most Popular Videos4) Call Me Maybe: Carly Rae Jepsen
Don't worry about creating videos that have all the bells and whistles.  Viewers will more likely respond to a real connection than to fancy effects.

10 Lessons Learned from 2012s Most Popular Videos5) Barrack Obama vs Mitt Romney
Be sure to create some videos that leverage events and trends that are hot topics and relevant now - also known as tent-pole programming.

10 Lessons Learned from 2012s Most Popular Videos6) A Dramatic Surprise on a Quiet Street
Marketing videos do not need to be typical or boring.  If you are using video to marketing your brand, provide compelling content first and then attach your brand to it.  This will give you a higher likelihood of reaching viewers than sticking with the standard marketing gimmicks.

10 Lessons Learned from 2012s Most Popular Videos7) Why You Asking All Them Questions
Be consistent with your videos.  Regularly provide your viewers with content that speaks to your channel, brand and messaging.

10 Lessons Learned from 2012s Most Popular Videos8) Dubstep Violin Original - Lindsey Sterling
Collaborate more.  Contact other YouTube creators who have skills and talents you do not and combine both your audiences and your abilities to create something original you couldn't create on your own.

10 Lessons Learned from 2012s Most Popular Videos9) Facebook Parenting: For the Troubled Teen
Create content that reaches your audience on a personal level and creates an emotional connection.

10 Lessons Learned from 2012s Most Popular Videos10) Felix Baumgartner's Supersonic Freefall from 128K
Look at utilizing Google+ Hangouts for more videos.  Create good pre-event buzz and allow your audience to engage with you live.

QUESTION:  What lessons did you learn from the top viral videos of 2012?

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View The Full Video Transcript:

In 2012, we saw thousands of videos go viral. I want to take a look at the top 10 most viewed videos for 2012 and talk about some of the lessons that you and I as video creators here on YouTube, some of the things that we can learn from the most popular videos from 2012. That is coming up.

There is a lot of things that contributed to the success of this video. One, it is something that have never been done before. Two, people wondering, is this guy going to die? Is he going to fall flat on his face? There is a lot of hype on social media and even conversation offline of people that surrounded this and gave it a lot of buzz, a lot of publicity, but I think the thing that made this event unique is that it was streamed online, on YouTube, live throughout the entire event. People could participate and interact and engage live, actually as it was happening. Over 8 million viewers watched this thing happen live. And if you have ever been a part of a live event, there is something very unique, something very different that you don’t get in something like a static video like this, so a lesson for me as a YouTube creator in 2013 is experiment more with Google Plus on-air hangout.

This video takes a lot of experiences that you and I are undoubtedly familiar with or experienced within our lives which is parenting, or being a teenager, or making a mistake on social media, or overreacting to something or under reacting depending on how look at it. These are all that we have had and that we can identify with and there really hasn’t been a video up until this one where all of those things were captured in one video and to such extremes. I think that is part of what this video does very well. It creates a very strong, emotional, human connection with the audience. So for me, going forward, I want to try to do that as well with my videos. How can I get people emotionally involved and engaged in what we are talking about? I may be spinning my head around a lot of that kind of stuff, trying to figure how can do that going forward into 2013 with my videos?

Maybe you don’t know that person who actually shot and edited this video is actually Devin Graham, another YouTuber who has over 700,000 subscribers himself. He has done lots of very beautiful work and so when he creates this video for Lindsey Sterling and then brings his whole audience; it kind of initially gives it a good boost. All his viewers love it and they really support it and push it. And what I learn here is that Lindsey with her violin skills and Devin with his video skills, separately can do really good work but when you put the two together they make a video that goes super viral like this one. So for me in 2013, I want to find more people that I can collaborate with, that we can work together with; link our arms and bring each other’s strength together and really make something together that we never really could have accomplished apart.

Personally, if I would have seen this video before it was published, I would have never predicted it would have gone as viral as it has. But I think that it is exactly the lesson that I am taking away from this is that you and me and YouTube video creators, I think that we just need to be consistent. If you look at spoken reason, YouTube channel you see that he is continually making stuff that he loves over and over again or regular on a consistent basis and for us I think we need to do the same and I think that we just might be surprised at which video takes off and does really well when that time comes.

First time, I watched this video, I thought to myself in the beginning, how would I react if I was standing there watching all of this unfold in front of me, and it is not until the end of the video that you realizes that this is actually a marketing video that everyone loves and they spread it virally and they share it with people and I think the lesson for me is that people aren’t opposed to videos that sale stuff that are marketing or commercials, there is nothing wrong with it as long as it is done well. So for those of you guys that are selling products through your YouTube channel or trying to promote something, that is fine just make sure that the quality and content comes first and then you just kind of associate it with your brand at the end of it. If people love the video, that will be way better for your product in the end.

I did the math on all the rap epic battles videos and they average about 30 million views per video but what pushed this video to over 50 million viewers is the fact that they did something very smart, they put in a video about Obama and Romney, they put in the 2 against each other right at the peak of the political election season. Lesson for us take advantage of poll events that are happening in our society, capitalize on the discussions and topics that people are already talking about.

I think it is pretty obvious that what is happening here, I mean whenever you get like 10, 15 pop idols in one like Justin Beiber, Selina and Ashontiville and others, they are making videos the way any of the teens are watching this would have made a video and the level of human connection that is happening here for teenagers is through the roof. They are watching their idols hang out and being really down to earth and raw; relaxed and just having fun with each other without all the show that often surrounds the performance that these guys do. The lesson for us to just make sure you have lots of famous people with millions of fans in your videos. But beyond that, I think also we can learn something that sometimes we don’t need like high professional videos all the time. Sometime just like the Iphone camera and windows movie maker is really all you need to have that really deep raw video that sometimes your audience just really craves.

There is a lot that we can learn from Kony, I mean there is this social just aspect, there is educational aspect, there is the emotional aspect and then there is the very clear, call to action aspect that they did very well in this video. But the thing that I really take away from this video is actually linked to its length. At 30 minutes long it kind of disproves of all those notions that your video has to be within 2 to 3 minutes or less if you really want it to be successful on YouTube people don’t watch long form content, but actually if you look at the top 50 marketing videos of all time, you see that there is a trend and the average of the top 10 is more over 4 minutes long and the interesting thing happens it that you go further down the list and the shorter the video is the fewer shares it tends to have. Now, why is that? Well, I think that is because it takes time to illicit an emotional response from your audience. It really hard to that in just 1 to 2 to 3 minutes. It takes probably about 4 minutes to illicit that emotional response that is strong enough to cause someone to share that after they have watched your video. So the lesson that I take from Kony is that length of my content isn’t as important as the quality of content and emotion that I stir inside of my viewers. Take the amount of time that you need to build to your climax and then don’t take a second more.

Music usually does really good on YouTube, but what this band did is they took a video that was already doing very well and I think it was at 361 million viewers originally and they took it and kind of make a cover themselves but they put their own unique spend on it .They did something different that you probably haven’t seen before. Sometimes as creators we think that we have to have original content all the time, and original content is definitely very valuable, necessary, but sometime it is okay to take someone else’s work and just adapt it and make it your own. You don’t steal it but you improve on it in some way and make it your unique for you.

The lessons that we can learn from this Internet phenomena and we discussed at length many times but the one that stands out to me the most is important at seating your videos. YG Entertainment which is a Psy’s record label, soon as this video was uploaded on July 15,2012 they started promoting this on their other YouTube channels and social media accounts trying to get the word out. As you can see from this graph, they grew pretty slowly at first and it wasn’t until a little later when a lot of people attribute its viral success to a tweet from T-Pain, which then set it off to twittersville and it started getting retweeted and shared at that point. Lesson for us it that guys we got to make contact with what we love and enjoy but after we upload that video to YouTube that is really only half the work our day is just getting started, after that, there is engaging with viewers and there is this whole seating process of getting the word out and promotion.

Kind of on a side note, I have been experimenting a lot with pay promotion on Facebook, on Twitter, and through true view ads here on YouTube and I have been learning a lot on what works here and what does not work and I am really looking forward to sharing a lot of that stuff with you guys in a future video but in the mean time why not subscribe so you can get that video and number two, I would love to hear from you guys in the comments below. What lessons have you learned from these top 10 videos of 2012? I’d really love to learn from you, hear from you guys because you guys usually offer me way more than I can offer you so thank you and we will see you guys next time, probably in a couple of days here. See you guys then, bye.

About the Author -
Tim Schmoyer is the host of ReelSEO's Creator's Tip and the author of "30 Days to a Better YouTube Channel". You can see some of his personal videos on his Family Vlog Channel. View All Posts By -

What do you think? ▼
  • http://gigieatscelebrities.com/ GiGi Eats Celebrities

    I will definitely keep these tips in mind! I wish YouTube mastery was easier... Its just so hard now that there are 24739874983248936478 YouTube channels out there crowding out the actually GOOD stuff!

  • http://twitter.com/mrcromartie1989 AC

    "Collaborate more. Contact other YouTube creators who have skills and talents you do not and combine both your audiences and your abilities to create something original you couldn't create on your own."

    This is always the part that seems impossible to me until I'm as big as one of these partners. Everyone I contact doesn't reply. Want someone to compose music and voice act for my cartoons. :-(

    • http://timschmoyer.com/ Tim Schmoyer

      How about you just pick someone you can make a cartoon out of, contact them with a sample video of it, and let them know you'd love to make something bigger for them as a collaboration.

      • http://twitter.com/mrcromartie1989 AC

        Sounds like a good idea, thanks. :-)

  • Norvegi

    Thank you for great info as usual:)

  • Amit Dwivedi


  • http://pinchincents.com/ Victoria

    I love this video you did. I often wonder how the top videos perform in the beginning. It is reassuring to see that the Gangnam Style started out slow. The only sad thing is, I don't think it should take a celebrity to talk about your video in order for others to recognize it. There are a lot of hidden gems out there waiting to be discovered. We are missing out on some amazing content I have a feeling.

  • Mark Shea

    how many of these videos, like kony, paid for views to get a viral start?

    • http://twitter.com/MarkRRobertson Mark R. Robertson

      I'm just guessing, but I would bet that at least 60% had paid views of some sort. What do you think.