At YouTube, we’ve analysed the content and creators that broke through in 2022 to uncover the global insights and themes we believe will help define consumer trends in 2023. Based on what we found, we’ve identified three ways marketers can take inspiration from successful creators to build stronger, more meaningful relationships with their audiences.
Leverage the power of communities
The most successful marketing shows an understanding of what motivates an audience to engage. That’s why it’s important to value online communities and understand how they can amplify and strengthen your messages.
Creators excel at this. The top YouTube content of 2022 demonstrates how creators can inspire active engagement from their communities through moments that capture public attention. In the U.K., for example, British YouTubers Sidemen brought together audiences from many top creators to raise over $1 million during their charity football match. Meanwhile, in the U.S., American creator MrBeast made YouTube’s 2022 year-end list for top 10 creators with a Willy Wonka-themed challenge video, featuring contestants from his fan base. And in Germany, the continued success of collaboration duo 7 vs. Wild can be partly attributed to their viewers, who share their takes in scores of reaction videos.
55% of Gen Z agree that they watch content that no one they know personally is interested in.
Across moments and geographies, viewers are forging connections with communities online that they may not interact with elsewhere. Indeed, 55% of Gen Z agree that they watch content that no one they know personally is interested in.1
The takeaway for marketers? Find ways to encourage participation from online groups who have specific personal interests and lean into them. By doing so, you can create brand moments with greater impact and meaning.
Meet audiences on their turf
In 2022, audience interest spanned multiple formats and content categories, and their preferences often changed based on their mindset and the moment. While this trend may seem like an obstacle, it presents a great opportunity for marketers to follow the lead of creators who successfully reach new audiences by meeting them where they are.
Engaging audiences successfully in one format often means that viewers will follow you from screen to screen.
In the past year, creators who told stories across multiple formats had the fastest growing audiences. For instance, Indonesian swimmer Timotius Mulyadi, whose long-form videos usually clock in at over eight minutes long, experimented with 60-second swimming tutorials, which made him one of his country’s breakout creators last year.
The fact is, engaging audiences successfully in one format often means that viewers will follow you from screen to screen. Our research shows that 59% of Gen Z agree that they use short-form video apps to discover things that they then watch longer versions of.2
Shakira successfully capitalized on this behaviour when she promoted the release of her latest song with Rauw Alejandro, “Te Felecito.” Instead of simply launching the music video, she used a series of Shorts to excite fans and encourage them to watch the full video experience. First, she sparked curiosity by inserting teasers from her new video into the YouTube thumbnails of her all-time classic videos. Then she released a preview of her new video on YouTube Shorts. Finally, she launched a group of Shorts that taught viewers how to do the video’s choreography, which sparked a new dance challenge. This creative use of multiformat content helped her music video become the sixth most-watched in Mexico in 2022 according to YouTube Music trends.
Meeting your audience where they are also means speaking their language, sometimes quite literally. MrBeast showed up on top creator lists in Brazil and France by using dubbed language channels. Meanwhile, Brazilian creator Jooj Natu’s English-language channel helped him extend his reach into the U.S. and Canada.
While marketers can take inspiration from the multiformat success of these creators, they can also engage with new audiences in a very simple and attainable way. According to a Google study, adding a vertical creative asset to a Video action campaign delivered 10% to 20% more conversions per dollar on YouTube Shorts than using landscape assets alone.3
Take the time to create innovative, fun Shorts
In the past, viral short-form videos often resulted from accidental, random moments captured on camera. But these days, Shorts are less off-the-cuff, and more crafted and intentional.
The Shorts that attract the largest audiences have been specifically designed to recreate the spontaneous feel of those older videos, with deliberate moments of surprise and delight. For creative inspiration, marketers can look to circus acrobat Jake Hinga, who found Shorts success by capturing him and his friends undertaking elaborate trampoline challenges. Alternatively, they can see how Chris Ivan, the king of toilet plunger trick shots, reached 80 million views by collaborating with restaurant business, Dave & Busters.
The best short-form videos embrace the format’s strength and encourage people to watch them again and again.
But Shorts don’t need to seem spontaneous to be successful. Last year, comedy creators attracted audiences with character-driven sketches and parodies. Take Germany’s Anna Strigl, who encouraged environmental activism in one of the country’s most viewed Shorts of the year.
The most important takeaway for marketers is that the best short-form videos embrace the format’s strength and encourage people to watch them again and again. What does this mean exactly? According to our list of top creator tips, one major thing marketers need to do is give their Shorts an immediate hook. As The Korean Vegan, a U.S.-based cooking creator, says: “The first one to two seconds are the most important. That hook better be visually, audibly, and intellectually irresistible.”
Leveraging communities, meeting audiences where they are, and creating innovative Shorts aren’t just YouTube strategies. Rather, they’re a reflection of the way audience expectations are evolving. Marketers who incorporate these actions into their creative will empower themselves to successfully connect with the right audiences at the right moments in 2023 and beyond.