Trending now on YouTube: Primitive technology, the ugly to beauty challenge, and followers decide

Earnest Pettie August 2018 Video, Consumer Insights

In this third installment of “Trending now on YouTube,” Earnest Pettie, a YouTube trends analyst who spots videos piquing viewers’ interests, shares three kinds of trending YouTube videos and the insights they reveal.

1. Primitive technology videos

In a world full of advanced technology, it’s easy to forget what it was like before machines did so much for us. But a developing trend called primitive technology brings us back to our roots.

Advancing backwards

Primitive technology videos typically involve survival skills and bushcraft. In them, a creator shows techniques — like how to build a water purifier — necessary to sustain life in a natural environment. The lack of music and sole focus on the completion of a task makes this trend an oddly satisfying YouTube version of “slow TV,” a genre that focuses on an ordinary or even mundane event (a yule log burning, a minute-by-minute train ride) and has been described as an antidote to the hectic world we live in.

An international phenomenon  

While Primitive Technology is one channel based in Australia dedicated to the trend, a growing community of creators are jumping on board all over the world, from the U.S. to Cambodia to Singapore. And people are watching. From the beginning of 2017 through present, we’ve seen a 248% increase in monthly views for primitive technology, survival, and bushcraft videos, peaking this summer.1

Disconnect to reconnect

Technology can actually help us disconnect and get more in touch with our “outdoorsy” side. The primitive technology video trend shows there is a place on YouTube where audiences seek refuge from the constant barrage on our attention spans. Similar to the van life trend that demonstrates how audiences, specifically millennials, are looking for more minimalist lifestyles, we’re seeing a recurring theme of audiences using YouTube to connect with themselves. In the case of primitive technology, not only are they disconnecting from the tech world, they are using the platform to learn something new.

2. Ugly to beauty challenge videos

Beauty and gaming are two markets that you might not expect to overlap, but it turns out they work really well together in a trend called the ugly to beauty challenge. For these videos, gamers record themselves giving a makeover to unusual-looking Sims 4 characters.

Female gamers dominate

The ugly to beauty challenge is especially popular among female gamers. Some of the top female gamers on YouTube, such as iHasCupquake, LaurenzSide, and cuteplay, have participated in the trend. While the challenge used to include music-filled time-lapse videos, the trend now consists of gameplay that includes both creator commentary and the creator’s face within the video.

Creative takeaway

From summer 2017 to summer 2018, there was a 4.5X growth in watch time of ugly to beauty challenge videos.2 The trend is a great example of how YouTube provides a creative angle for people to develop something that hasn’t been done before. It also highlights the unique interests of female gamers on YouTube. On top of that, it suggests you should keep an eye out for the interesting intersection of categories — like beauty and gaming — that you might not typically associate with one another.  

3. Followers decide videos  

Before social media, there were limited ways for fans to interact with influencers, but features like live video, comment sections, and more have made it easier than ever for fans to connect with their favorite creators. The followers decide trend takes this connection one step further by giving followers the opportunity to influence a creator’s day.

How it’s done

By polling their audience, YouTube creators allow fans to inspire their upcoming day. Audiences can suggest everything from hair color to travel destinations to meals they want creators to try. For example, Meredith Foster, a creator who typically focuses on beauty and fashion, let her followers tell her what to order off the secret menu at In-N-Out burger.

The resulting video is then uploaded to YouTube, which provides a unique opportunity for followers to see the impact of their collaboration with creators and to be inspired by this real-time connection.

Let your audience decide

YouTube creators encourage a certain level of interactivity that audiences expect. The platform further enables the two-way dialogue that fans wish to have with stars by allowing creators to hear their audience’s voices directly. These sorts of connections make for a more-invested audience and one more likely to continue engaging with the content being offered. With over 100 million views this year,3 the followers decide trend is an example of the positive response of audiences who feel they have a say in developing the content they consume.

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