Becoming Popular on YouTube

In our previous post, Setting Up YouTube, we began a brand new series on YouTube with a introduction on how to set up YouTube for your enterprise.

In this post, we continue our new series on YouTube with a look at the most viewed videos and discuss why, as well as how to get views for your videos.

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Becoming Popular on YouTube

Here’s a ranking of the most popular YouTube videos of all time, as of mid-2011:

  • Justin Bieber — Baby ft. Ludacris[1] with 561,868,046
  • Lady Gaga Bad Romance[2] with 386,769,838 views
  • Shakira – Waka Waka(This Time for Africa)[3] with 351,928,810
  • Eminem – Love The Way You Lie ft. Rihanna[4] with 344,964,046
  • Charlie bit my finger[5] with 335,752,852
  • Justin Bieber – One Time[6] with 247,027,414

A quick review of these videos shows they have one thing in common: pop singers. Five of the six are music videos from hot pop singers. OK, that’s understandable. Lady Gaga is a great visual artist. Justin Bieber is a tween idols. Number four is a music video by Eminem featuring Rihanna, both hot pop stars. So you can understand, given the marketing hype behind these artists, why they are popular, although the relatively low popularity of Pitbull makes him an outlier.

The #5 video shows a toddler biting his brother’s finger. Huh? It’s cute, we suppose, but no cuter than the millions of cute kitten, dog, and baby videos on YouTube. Its journey to hundreds of millions of views was chronicled by Slate back in 2009:[7]

In May 2007, the father of two British tykes uploaded a home video he wanted to share with the kids’ godfather in Colorado and a few American colleagues. After three months, only a few dozen people had seen the video, and he considered taking it off the site. Then, something strange happened: On Aug. 24, 2007, the video was viewed 25 times in California. Three days later, that number was up to 79, with a dozen more coming in from Washington, Texas, and Wisconsin. The number of daily views doubled roughly every week as “Charlie Bit Me” spread around the country and through Europe. On Nov. 5, a couple of guys in Canada filmed a frame-by-frame remake[8] [currently with more than 6 million views of its own]. Two weeks later, linked to the video,[9] and by January it was on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

While this phenomenon is interesting, it’s hard to derive any practical principals of viralocity from it. Clearly, however, it shows the power of word of mouth, so try to make your videos so memorable people tell each other about them.

What all these videos really have in common is: They’re entertaining.

This is a key element to ensure that your YouTube videos are seen: You must do your best to make your video entertaining. This may be difficult or impossible, depending on the problem you solve (think embarrassing personal hygiene products, for example), but if you want to reach a wide audience, it’s a goal to strive for. That said, you may already know a lot about how to reach your target audience, and appealing to their emotions, empathy, or eliciting a gut reaction may work in other venues. If so, be sure you apply these techniques to your YouTube videos as well.

Next up: Create Your YouTube Channel

Becoming Popular on YouTube is the 133rd in a series of excerpts from our book, Be a Person: the Social Operating Manual for Enterprises (itself part of a series for different audiences). We’re just past page 355. At this rate it’ll be a long time before we get through all 430 pages, but luckily, if you’re impatient, the book is available in paper form at and you can save $5 using Coupon Code 6WXG8ABP2Infinite Pipeline book cover

Get our new book, The Infinite Pipeline: How to Master Social Media for Business-to-Business Sales Success online here. You can save $5 using Coupon Code 62YTRFCV

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[1] Bieber:

[2] Lada Gaga:

[5] Charlie the biter:

[6] Bieber, again:

[7] Charlie’s journey:

[8] Charlie Bit Me… remix:


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