Content Creation

How To Go Viral on YouTube

Vukasin Ilic 8 min read
Table of Contents

With more people uploading video content than ever before, there is always one viral video that takes the internet by storm.

Though most viewers only see the content flourish, so much effort and creativity go into making a video go viral.

Interestingly, many of today's popular YouTubers gained their popularity as a result of a single or collective viral video, either by chance or through hard work.

Take, for example, PewDiePie, who, since the release of his popular video "Minecraft Multiplayer Fun," has garnered 111 million YouTube subscribers.

You should note, however, that becoming a YouTube sensation is easier said than done. More than luck, you must devote enough time and effort, as well as allow for trial and error.

So before you start releasing tons of videos in the hopes that one hits the viral jackpot, you need to ask yourself what it means to go viral.

What Does Going Viral on YouTube Mean?

Years ago, before YouTube became as popular as it is today, not just any video could go viral. Fast forward to today's internet age, almost any relatable, controversial, or engaging content has the potential to go viral.

When a video "goes viral", it means that it has gained a large number of views and attention over a short period of time.

This is reflected in the increased traffic to the channel, including a rise in views, shares, likes, comments, and subscribers.

Then again, "going viral" means different things to different people. For example, a YouTuber with 2,000 subscribers will consider their video viral if it reaches 200,000+ likes or views and 2,000+ comments.

What's important, however, is that in the definition of virality, the video blows up in a matter of days, maybe weeks, and never months or years.

How Much Engagement Does a YouTube Video Need To Go Viral?

Views are the primary metric to determine whether a video is viral.

A video is likely considered viral if it receives more than 250k–500k views within the first few days of its upload.

The same can be said for videos that receive millions of views within the first three to seven days of posting.

Typically, content is considered viral when the number of views far outweighs the creators' subscribers. Still, this is not to say a video is viral if a content creator gets 10k views with 5k followers.

And more importantly, sharing is one of the main forms of engagement on YouTube. The process of sharing is one factor that contributes to the success of a viral video.

A video becomes viral when it spreads far beyond its core audience.

That is, it reaches more people through the second level of shares than through direct connection shares alone.

At the end of the day, viral content is highly subjective and can mean different things to different people as we already mentioned. But, it is still essential to note that a mere increase in engagement does not necessarily mean your video went viral.

Regardless, a video's virality is not determined by the precise number of views, subscribers, shares, or likes. While everyone has their definition of what it means to go viral, a large part of your content's virality is determined by its niche.

So what niches have a higher potential for going viral? Keep reading to find out.

What Kind of Videos Go Viral On YouTube?

If we're being honest, literally almost any type of video can go viral. The internet has had its fair share of the most random videos blowing up and becoming viral overnight.

On the flip side, many YouTube creators make a conscious effort to curate their videos, from idea conception to eventually uploading the content online.

Although sheer luck sometimes plays a role in videos going viral, some specific categories of YouTube content have gained popularity and amassed a large audience and, as a result, have higher potential to go viral.

Some of the popular categories that have a higher viral factor are:

Movies and Entertainment

The movies and entertainment section is one of the most popular categories on YouTube. This section contains content from trailers to fan reactions, movie scenes, and movie reviews.

As a result of their massive fan bases, the accounts of YouTubers in this niche have continued to gain traction.

Take, for example, Screen Junkies. This account features film and television content and has over 6 million subscribers. Its content type includes pop parodies, original series, and thoughtful commentary.


Everyone loves a good laugh, and people tend watch and enjoy comedy-related content on YouTube for hours at a time.

Over the years, there are many comedy videos ranging from pranks to stand-up comedy, funny skits, and funny pop culture reactions, that accumulated massive amount of views.

Examples of YouTubers that excel in this niche with their fair share of viral comedy content are Luke Kidgell and Tra Rags.

Music-Infused Videos

One reason why TikTok has become as popular as it is today is its creators’ use of popular music.

YouTubers can draw from this and also use viral music in their videos.

Creators, for example, can incorporate popular music into their YouTube Shorts videos to increase traffic to their channels.

The content can be in the form of music reactions, commentary, music compilations, or dance challenge videos.

However, before incorporating music in your videos, you must determine if it is copyrighted or not. Using copyrighted music without permission comes with its own disadvantages, one of which is your video being demonetized.

To legally use copyrighted music, you can either get approval from the original owner or share a portion of the revenue derived from YouTube videos with the owner.

Pet Videos

One thing we can all agree on is that there's something about watching pet videos that makes you feel calm, relaxed, and in touch with your feelings.

There's also the occasional “aww” that escapes your lips sometimes without you even knowing.

It's no surprise that pet content is popular on YouTube, sometimes in the form of vlogs, random clips, or pet care tips.


Given that sports have one of the largest fan bases in the entertainment industry, you can imagine the number of viral sports-related videos that are topping the ranks on YouTube.

Sports-related content on YouTube will always appeal to sports fans, whether it is about basketball, baseball, football, or any other sport.

You can capitalize on the popularity of this niche by creating sports content like a compilation of a star player's highlights or a reaction to an epic match scene.


The gaming niche has grown in popularity on YouTube, with gamers from all over the world gathering to connect and share their thoughts on the games they enjoy playing.

Many gamers have taken to YouTube to showcase their knowledge of different games, provide game reviews, tutorials, and even live-stream video games.

It's the perfect combination of challenging and rewarding work and doing something you enjoy.

7-Step Framework To Help You Go Viral on YouTube

No one uploads a video being 100% sure that it'll blow up overnight. While some people are lucky enough to go viral with little to no effort, others have gone viral through hard work.

We've compiled a list of practical tips you can incorporate into your videos to help increase the chances of them going viral.

Know Your Target Audience

You should have a particular audience in mind when putting out video content.

Ask yourself if you're trying to connect with children, Millennials, or Gen Z. Once you can answer this question, that's just one side of the equation.

Next, you'd want to identify what content works for your target audience.

For instance, if you're trying to reach children, you must consider using appropriate language, tone, and media.

Paying attention to your target audience and what interests them helps you create better content. This ultimately increases the chances of your video going viral.

Create Relatable and Engaging Content

If your target audience cannot relate to your video, it is unlikely to go viral. Nobody wants to watch or share a video they aren't interested in.

The best type of content is that which your audience can understand and relate to.

Whether it's a "day in my life" video or a movie reaction video, make it exciting, creative, and relatable.

You have a significantly better chance of going viral if your audience can identify with your videos. The more relatable your content is, the more likely your audience will enjoy, revisit, and share your videos.

Trending topics make for terrific content ideas. It's a trend for a reason, so you can be assured that your audience will be interested in the topic.

When you create content at the peak of a trend, your video has a high chance of going viral. For example, millions of Americans tune in to the Super Bowl every year.

As a result, creating content around the event with ample attention to detail can quickly go viral.

However, you must first identify these trends to leverage them and create viral videos.

One way to easily do this is by using YouTube's trending page on your YouTube profile. This tool lets you stay on top of trends and create new content your audience cares about.

Create Eye-Catching Thumbnails

When people scroll through videos on YouTube, they will likely click on videos with thumbnails that catch their attention.

This means the more appealing your thumbnail is, the more views you will receive for your videos. Once you can garner thousands of views and attention in a short period, your video is set to go viral.

To create enticing thumbnails viewers can't resist, incorporate the following vital tips:

  • Use clear images that spike curiosity.
  • Use text only if it is clickable.
  • Make it bright and intriguing enough to stand out.
  • Avoid distracting backgrounds and concentrate on the main element.
  • Keep it as straightforward as possible.

Still, not every visually appealing thumbnail will help your video go viral. Having one, however, dramatically increases your chances.

Use Clickable Titles

A clickable title is any title that can pique viewers' interest to the point where they want to watch your video.

The title of your video is as important as the video itself.

While creating an enticing thumbnail is one way to arouse curiosity, accompanying it with a catchy title seals the deal.

Most videos that go viral have titles that viewers can't resist. They tell one part of a story and leave you wanting more. So it's only natural that they grab viewers' attention enough for them to click and share.

The following tips make for clickable titles that make it to YouTube’s “recommended” bar:

  • Use catchy adjectives. For example: “extreme” or “the fastest.”
  • It must be universally appealing for more people to click on it.
  • Don't use click baits, be honest.
  • Ensure there's no room for misinterpretations.
  • Keep the title to 50 characters or fewer for mobile users.

Optimize Your Video Description and Tags

Using the right keywords in captions, hashtags, and descriptions is essential to getting the most out of your video.

This often makes the difference between a potential viral video and one lost in the sea of competing videos.  

The logic behind optimizing your video descriptions and tags is simple. The more trending and SEO-packed your keywords are, the better your chance of ranking high in the algorithm list.

Overall, this increases the possibility of your video going viral on YouTube.

For instance, if your video is about washing your natural hair, include relevant tags like "haircare", "washday",  “naturalhair”, etc.

Keep it Short and Simple

A shorter video is more likely to go viral than a longer one. This is because viewers nowadays prefer brief and to-the-point videos.

Still, it's not enough to make your videos short. More than this, remember to make every second count. You can achieve this by making every second as enjoyable as possible.

The most effective YouTube videos capture the viewer's attention at the start and keep it until the end. To accomplish this, keep your videos short and to the point.

Thanks to the short video feature of YouTube Shorts, you can take advantage of this platform. For one thing, the YouTube algorithm heavily promotes it. Meaning YouTube short videos are more likely to be promoted and go viral.

They do, however, provide a lot less benefits to the creator, at the moment.

The Bottom Line

In your quest to become the next YouTube sensation, keep in mind that going viral on YouTube cannot be guaranteed or controlled.

However, your content creation can become more intentional and targeted once you have a better understanding of what it really means to go viral. And who knows? You, too, can become the next internet sensation!


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