September 20, 2021

Three YouTube Trends To Watch in 2021 and Beyond

“As we emerge from this unique moment in human history, more than ever people are asking me: what should we take away for the future? What’s a product of the moment, and what’s going to continue to matter?” says Kevin Allocca in his introduction to this year’s YouTube Culture and Trends Report

Adam Raw
Adam Raw

VP, Video & Audience Development

Those questions are crucial for any video rights owner or creator in the post-COVID landscape. 

YouTube has been a huge part of our lives since its launch in 2005. But as Allocca observes, the pandemic has changed the way we use it. As he and his team investigated the most popular content on YouTube over the last year, “a lot of the things we saw and heard point to the increasing indispensability of video in people’s lives.”

We couldn’t go anywhere during the extended lockdowns we’ve endured, so many of us turned to YouTube for practical help and a sense of community. The video platform became part of our daily routine, and that’s something that seems set to continue.

Let’s look at how rights owners can work with this shift in consumption patterns to grow their YouTube channels.

Trend 1: Evergreen content

Our sports clients tend to have channels that are heavily events-based, which was obviously a big issue last year. 

When sporting events stopped in 2020, we worked closely with all our rights-holder clients to take a good look at their archives. 

The idea was to use the footage they already had to create compilation videos around themes or past events: a type of content that performs very well on YouTube. Finding topics for these videos soon became part of our daily routine.

The biggest advantage of this type of content is that it’s evergreen. Classic match moments, sporting personalities, extraordinary achievements – these things are always relevant, and they always attract viewers. 

The broadcast restrictions that applied when the event took place have usually expired. This allows us to create longer-form videos. 

The strategy worked so well that our year-over-year results were up despite the pandemic. Even with no events to show and slightly less content being posted, we still performed better overall.

Our advice: We’ve learned from the pandemic that evergreen content should be part of any ongoing regular upload strategy. This kind of content has a real effect on your channel’s growth.

Trend 2: Live streaming

Live streaming has become hugely popular. Probably the most famous example is Joe Wicks

Before COVID, he wasn’t very active on YouTube. He had a channel, but it was small compared to his presence on Instagram. Then, he started to live stream his ‘PE with Joe’ morning workouts during the first lockdown. 

So many people tuned in; he set a new Guinness World Record for ‘Most viewers for a fitness workout live stream on YouTube’.  

More fitness instructors – along with bands, theatres and even churches – followed suit.  

And that’s kept going even after lockdown. Maybe that’s not surprising: why get up at 6:00 am and go out into the cold air to get to the gym before work when you can tune in to your favourite personal trainer at home?

Beyond convenience, live streaming has grown in popularity (particularly in the pandemic) because it fosters a sense of connection. It allows people to access all kinds of experiences and communities without leaving the house. That’s why it won’t be going anywhere.

Our advice: We recommend live streaming! You could also explore ways of monetising live streams with features like Super Chat, where users pay to pin their comments and make sure they’re seen.

Trend 3: “With-me” tutorials

Training, cooking, crafting, baking… YouTube was built on how-to videos. But they got a new lease of life in the past 18 months. 

People were stuck at home, unable to go out to eat or get a repairman to fix that dripping tap. So they went online to find out how to do it themselves. Others took the opportunity to learn new languages, musical instruments, dances, crafts, sports, recipes – you name it.

This cultural shift saw the meteoric rise of “with me” videos, tutorials that invite you to follow along with the creator, learning alongside them in real-time. The personal style of these videos leads to a real, human connection – something else many craved throughout the pandemic.

For example, the channel Dad How Do I, which teaches “basic tasks that everyone should know how to do”, was launched in April 2020 and already has over 3.5 million followers. 

This trend isn’t going anywhere, but surprisingly, it’s also a strategy that many well-known organisations still haven’t explored.

Our advice: How-to or “with me” videos are simple to make, and they can attract millions of views. If you represent well-known or upcoming talent, the kind of people others trust and look up to, it makes for fantastic content.

Looking ahead to 2022

As the last year proved, whether it’s meeting the need for connection or the need to be self-sufficient, consumption trends are often driven by events and changes in wider society. 

As a channel, you need to keep ahead of what’s happening culturally and adapt your content as consumer demands change.

On that, here’s one final tip; watching and learning from UGC (user-generated content) is one of the most valuable ways to understand what’s inspiring your audience right now and exactly how to tap into it. 

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