I've been writing a weekly round up article on the best and hottest viral videos for well over a year now. One of the most common questions I'm asked is about my sources--where do I find the videos I feature in my weekly best-of article. I get asked that enough that I figured it might be time to share some of my secret sources for discovering emerging viral video content.
This list is by no means exhaustive--I don't have room to feature every site I use for video discovery, and I'd probably prefer to keep one or two of my favorite methods a secret anyway. Also, these are not in any specific order. There's no number-one site for finding upcoming hot videos, and the "best source" changes every week.
Here now, without further ado, are some excellent places to find great videos while they're still going viral--and sometimes before they go viral:
Buzzfeed is a bit like Digg, in that users submit interesting things they find online, and the best submissions wind up on the home page. But Buzzfeed also has moderators, which is a huge plus because those moderators filter out the garbage submissions. Of course, if you're a viral video marketer, the moderators aren't a plus, because they make it tougher to get your latest video creation on the home page.
A very high percentage of the videos posted on Buzzfeed's home page end up as viral hits. I don't know if they're telling the viewers what we should like, or if they're just really good at predicting what we'll like, but I don't really care--the end result is that I can find fantastic videos either before they go viral, or right as the rise is occurring.
Best Thing About Buzzfeed: The videos tend to be posted well before their viral activity begins--catch the clips before they go viral!
Devour is another curated site, where humans help choose which submitted videos make the home page. In terms of look and feel, it's much less busy than Buzzfeed. Thankfully, the video quality is just as strong. I tend to have already seen most of the featured videos, though, by the time I see them posted to Devour.
Best Thing About Devour: The design and user experience. Clean, minimalist, and with gigantic YouTube embeds. I love watching videos on this site.
Duh, right? While YouTube still has a ways to go to make the video browsing experience as great as I think it can be, it's still a fantastic source to discover emerging viral hits. I employ liberal use of the filter settings when treasure hunting there, checking most-watched videos or most-popular videos by the day, week, and month.
Best Thing About YouTube (in terms of video discovery): Filters. I might as well admit it... I'm a filter junkie. I love sifting through data, then changing the parameters slightly to see how the results change. It's part of my nature. In terms of finding new videos to enjoy and discuss on YouTube, the filters are invaluable.
I've written about PopScreen before, and I love it. They provide an easy way to keep track of all your favorite online videos. Think of PopScreen as Delicious for your videos--though it's much more than that. One of the features I use most is the browser button--whenever I'm watching a video I enjoy, no matter what site I'm on, I just click the Pop It button in my browser and that video is automatically saved to my bookmarks list.
The Best Thing About PopScreen: Multiple sources. Because PopScreen works across most video platforms, there's always a variety of content to view. YouTube browsing will, obviously, only ever show you YouTube videos. But PopScreen browsing can help you discover YouTube clips, Daily Motion clips, Vimeo videos, and more.
Reddit has become hugely popular in just the last six months or so, due mostly to the mass exodus of users from Digg (it's always been popular, but this year went a little mainstream). Reddit, like Digg, is a site where people share their favorite web content--videos, images, news items, opinions, etc. Part of the reason that Reddit is such a great source for finding emerging videos is the fact that there are so many users--when something hits the home page, it's going to be clicked on an awful lot. So when a video hits the home page, there's a great chance it's either going viral... or about to.
Best Thing About Reddit: Variety of video. Science videos? Check. Colbert videos? Check. Funny or shocking videos? Yup. Reddit is such a diverse community of users, there's something for everyone.
Bitly.TV is hit or miss for me. In a nutshell, it's Bit.ly's attempt to show you what videos are being shared the most at any given moment. The data is based on Bit.ly's URL shortener, which is one of the most-used services of its kind. By keeping a finger on the pulse of what users are sharing via shortened links, Bitly.TV is able to keep a perpetual showcase of the videos that are hot right now. The home page is always different, updating at a near constant pace.
The Best Thing About Bitly.TV: The timeline. Above the featured videos on Bitly.TV's home page is a little time line. And if you want to go back in time a bit and see what the most popular videos were yesterday, you can do that. Or three days ago. You can go as far back as seven days.
There is no one place that you can go to discover all the great emerging viral videos. If you want to be on the bleeding edge of what people are watching and talking about online, you'll want to make sure you use multiple sources. Even then you'll miss several great videos--there's just too much great content for any one person or source to stay on top of it all, which is exactly why I love this world of viral video marketing.