It's almost December and it's fairly easy to predict what's going to happen next month. Everyone from the Official YouTube Blog to the Meme Machine to Visible Measures will take a look at the top YouTube trends in 2011.
If what's past is prologue, then "YouTube's New Year Countdown," a special destination page spotlighting 31 of the year's most memorable videos, should start on Dec. 1, 2011. The Meme Machine should also announce the "top 20 viral global video ads of 2011″ on Dec. 1. And Visible Measures can be expected to post "Social Video Advertising: 2011 in Review" about mid-December.
So, if all I need to do is wait a few days or a couple of weeks to get all the data, then why write this column now? Well, who wants to be the last columnist to weigh in on this past year's YouTube trends? Besides, I have a feeling that some of the really important trends may not be reflected in these lists.
For example, does it really matter if Jennifer Lopez – On The Floor ft. Pitbull is the top music video for 2011? Uploaded on March 3, 2011, this music video had 437,668,768 views as of this past weekend.
And will you be shocked, shocked to find that The Force: Volkswagen Commercial is the top video ad for the year? Uploaded on Feb. 2, 2011, this video ad had 44,441,375 views as of this past weekend.
And even though I love YouTube Challenge – I Told My Kids I Ate All Their Halloween Candy, I won't cry if it doesn't make one of the annual charts? Uploaded on Nov. 2, 2011, this Jimmy Kimmel Live video had 22,865,019 views as of this past weekend.
So, what can we learn from looking back at the usual suspects who will be rounded up for the top YouTube trends of 2011? Well, for starters, most of the charts are still measuring individual videos. Although they may not be called "viral videos" anymore, they are still the popular "one-off" videos that conventional wisdom thinks video marketing should continue to celebrate each year.
In other words, conventional wisdom can't see the forest for the trees.
To me, the first YouTube trend that we should be celebrating in 2011 is the impact of the thousands of video clips that documented the Arab Spring. This includes Tunisian Unrest: View from the Streets.
These videos helped to ignite the Arab Spring, a revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests occurring in the Arab world. To date, there have been revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt as well as a civil war in Libya that ended in the fall of its government.
These protests have shared techniques of civil resistance in sustained campaigns involving strikes, demonstrations, marches and rallies, as well as the use of YouTube and other social media to organize, communicate, and raise awareness in the face of state attempts at repression and Internet censorship.
The second YouTube trend that we should be celebrating in 2011 is Live Events. On April 18, 2011, Joshua Siegel, Product Manager, and Christopher Hamilton, Product Marketing Manager, announced the initial roll out of YouTube Live, which integrated live streaming capabilities and discovery tools directly into the YouTube platform for the first time.
This means that YouTube has become more than a place to watch videos that were uploaded yesterday, last week, or last month. It has also become the site to see events that are taking place right now. In 2011, this included popular concerts, sporting events, and interviews.
It also included The Royal Wedding, which was live streamed on YouTube 72 million times. YouTube Live was also instrumental in bringing Brazil's Carnival to the world. You could watch the lunar eclipse from anywhere. And you could watch the Hajj in Saudi Arabia – the world's largest pilgrimage – live on YouTube.
The third YouTube trend that we should be celebrating is the launch of www.youtube.com/create on Mar. 24, 2011. This enables people to make an original video in minutes – for free – even if they don't have a video camera.
As of this past weekend, you could find the YouTube Video Editor as well as access the following video creation sites: GoAnimate, Magisto, One True Media, Stupeflix Video Maker, Vlix, WeVideo, and Xtranormal Movie Maker.
These are the three biggest YouTube trends in 2011 – if you can see the forest for the trees.