Top 40 Viral Videos of All Time

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This is the second iteration of my Top Viral Videos of All Time record, and I didn’t understand how difficult it will be to revisit this record.

In simply two years, a lot has modified. The speedy rise of TikTookay prompted Instagram to introduce Reels in August 2020, for instance. YouTube launched Shorts in India in September 2020, and within the US in March 2021.

The digital video business’s consideration is now caught on short-form movies — these with a length from 15 seconds to 1 minute — as an alternative of the demographics of the audiences on these social video platforms.


  • 25% of TikTookay customers are 10-19, 22.four% are 20-29, and 21.7% are 30-39.
  • 22.9% of Instagram customers are 18-24 and 31.5% are 25-34.
  • 77% of YouTube customers are 15-25 and 77% are 26-35.

In addition, 72.6% of YouTube’s consumer base is male, whereas 56.5% of Instagram’s and 61% of TikTookay’s consumer base is feminine.

So, must you deal with the platform that your audience prefers or the content material that speaks to what they’re keen about?


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The Viral Video Landscape is Changing

Connected TV was the fastest-growing display amongst YouTube viewers in 2020.

In reality, Tara Walpert Levy reported lately that over 120 million Americans streamed YouTube or YouTube TV on their TV screens in December 2020.

And more and more, persons are selecting to observe their favourite content material with others.

According to Talk Shoppe, 57% of Americans say they watch YouTube movies on TV screens with others. So, this new display may change into a fair greater game-changer than the arrival of cell gadgets was a decade in the past.

On the opposite hand, some adjustments have been extra evolutionary.

Two years in the past, 23 out of the highest 25 movies with probably the most views of all time had been music movies, with “Luis Fonsi – Despacito ft. Daddy Yankee” on the high of the record with 6.1 billion views.

Today, if I chosen the highest 40 movies with probably the most views of all time, all you’d see is a listing of YouTube movies consisting of a mixture of youngsters’s content material, like this Baby Shark video with eight.eight billion views.


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I nonetheless suppose that “views” will not be an correct measure of “virality,” a minimum of not by itself.

For instance, YouTube says a “view” is counted when somebody watches 30 seconds of your video advert (or the length if it’s shorter than 30 seconds) or interacts with the advert, whichever comes first.

Facebook and Instagram say a “view” is counted after somebody watches simply three seconds of a video of any size.

And TikTookay says a “view” is counted as quickly because the video begins taking part in in somebody’s feed.

That’s why the Global Video Measurement Alliance says, “View count doesn’t cut it anymore.”

Plus, views will be purchased.

Now, I’m not speaking about illicitly buying views from a 3rd celebration to artificially inflate your view depend. I’m speaking about utilizing promoting to advertise your content material.

Hey, this second choice is completely legit – actually, YouTube and Facebook encourage it so as to be certain that your audience sees your movies.

In July 2006, 63 million individuals worldwide visited, in keeping with the primary comScore information printed concerning the video-sharing website. Today, over 2 billion logged-in customers go to YouTube every month.

So, any record of the highest viral movies of “all time” goes to be closely tilted in favor of movies that had been uploaded in newer years.

That’s why my record beneath of the highest 40 viral movies of all time excludes youngsters’s content material in addition to main label music movies.

My record additionally makes use of engagements – a mixture of likes, shares, and feedback – in addition to views to make sure that movies have “gone viral” the old school means: They earned it.

Finally, the very first video, “Me at the zoo,” was printed on May 29, 2005.

I’ve chosen that as my start line after which chosen two or three of the highest viral movies from every of the succeeding years to provide content material creators and video entrepreneurs an concept of how the method of “going viral” has mutated over time.


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Hopefully, it will give you 40 helpful, priceless, and sensible classes which you can apply this month, this week, or tomorrow in your individual video advertising technique.

Year 1: May 29, 2005 to May 28, 2006

One of the primary viral movies that helped to place YouTube on the map was Lazy Sunday.

Uploaded in December 2005, it was a bootleg copy of the Saturday Night Live skit, The Chronicles of Narnia Rap.

So, how widespread was this video?

Well, David Itzkoff of The New York Times reported again then that Lazy Sunday racked up 1.2 million views in its first 10 days.

And LeeAnn Prescott of Hitwise reported in December 2005 that visits to YouTube had shot up 83% for the reason that video had been uploaded – and had handed visits to Google Video. (And the remaining is historical past.)

By the tip of January 2006, Prescott reported, “Since my post last month on YouTube and the SNL Chronicles of Narnia rap, YouTube has continued to gain market share against other video search sites, and since surpassing Google Video, it has also surpassed Yahoo! Video Search.”


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Then, Lazy Sunday was faraway from the video-sharing website in February 2006.

In a submit on the YouTube weblog, the YouTube employees defined: “NBC lately contacted YouTube and requested us to take away Saturday Night Live’s Lazy Sunday: Chronicles of Narnia video.

We understand how widespread that video is however YouTube respects the precise of copyright holders. You can nonetheless watch SNL’s Lazy Sunday video without cost on NBC’s web site.”

Ironically, Saturday Night Live re-uploaded Lazy Sunday to its YouTube channel in August 2013, seven-and-a-half years after it was eliminated.

Why did they do this and what lesson are you able to be taught from this? Well, copyright homeowners can monetize their movies on YouTube.

Yes, they’ve to separate their advert income with YouTube. But, it appears affordable to imagine that somebody at NBC lastly discovered that SNL may make more cash by letting advertisers run advertisements in opposition to Lazy Sunday on YouTube in addition to on NBC’s web site than they’d get by persevering with to hoard their video content material on their very own website, which will get considerably much less site visitors.


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Another video that went viral in YouTube’s first 12 months was Evolution of Dance. Uploaded by Judson Laipply in April 2006, it has 309 million views and 1.6 million engagements, in keeping with Tubular Labs information.

Now, it ought to have much more views and engagements, however this video was blocked within the U.S. for a number of years on copyright grounds as a result of it incorporates content material from Warner Music Group (WMG).

So, why did they do this and what lesson are you able to be taught from this?

Well, utilizing YouTube’s Content ID system, copyright homeowners can select to monetize a video and share income with the uploader. Or, they will block a complete video from being considered.

So, WMG didn’t appear to need to share squat with Laipply for a quantity of years.

But, then the multinational leisure and document label conglomerate both determined that some income was higher than none or all of a sudden began to care what I had written two years in the past once I found that Evolution of Dance had been blocked.


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In both case, don’t assume which you can freely pattern a music beneath the “fair use” precept. And if you wish to embody some music or sound results in your movies, with out having to barter licenses with every copyright proprietor, then use the YouTube Audio Library to seek out high-quality audio tracks, that are royalty-free.

Year 2: May 29, 2006 to May 28, 2007

One of the highest viral movies from YouTube’s second 12 months was Chocolate Rain’ Original Song by Tay Zonday. Uploaded in April 2007, it has 130 million views and 1.7 million engagements.

Here’s the backstory. The video was initially posted on, the place Zonday’s breathe-away-from-the-mic transfer was mocked and tons of parody movies had been made in response.

But, Chocolate Rain didn’t go viral till July 2007, when YouTube concurrently featured all of the parody and response movies on its residence web page.


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Okay, what classes can we be taught from this viral video with its unconventional lyrics and supply?

Well, even in case you are mocked by the self-appointed trend-setters, you’ll be able to nonetheless get the final chortle if you find yourself invited on Jimmy Kimmel Live after which go on to get “paid a hefty, hefty fee” when your video turns into half of a promotional marketing campaign for Cherry Chocolate Diet Dr. Pepper.

One of the opposite high viral movies from YouTube’s second 12 months is Charlie bit my finger – once more!

Uploaded in May 2007, it has 886 million views and a pair of.7 million engagements.

Howard Davies-Carr, Harry and Charlie’s father, lives within the U.Okay. He uploaded the video to YouTube in order that it may very well be watched by the boys’ grandfather, who was dwelling within the U.S.


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After it inadvertently went viral, he selected to monetize the video by permitting advertisements to run subsequent to it. In 2011, it was reported that the Davies-Carr household had revamped £100,000 in promoting income from the video.

The cash from the viral video was sufficient to allow the household to buy a brand new home.

And right here’s the newest replace: An NFT of the “Charlie bit me” meme was simply auctioned off on May 23, 2021, for $760,999.

So, the viral video could quickly be deleted, which might “really hurt” anybody who desires to be taught classes from historical past greater than Charlie’s chunk “really hurt” Harry’s finger.

Year three: May 29, 2007 to May 28, 2008

A pair of humorous cat movies went viral throughout YouTube’s third 12 months, giving the video-sharing website an undeserved fame that it’s nonetheless making an attempt to beat right this moment.

One of these was Charlie Schmidt’s Keyboard Cat! – THE ORIGINAL!

This video was uploaded in June 2007 and has 62.5 million views and 1.1 million engagements.


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This video encompasses a tabby, which seems to play a tune on a keyboard. Now, seen by itself, it makes little or no sense.

But when technical editor Brad O’Farrell discovered the footage and positioned it on the finish of one other video, it unfold like wildfire.

“Play him off, Keyboard Cat” grew to become a strategy to sign it was time to wrap it up after a clumsy scenario or slip-and-fall blooper.

Keyboard Cat mashups added a contact extra absurdity to already absurd conditions, like a person falling off a treadmill or Miss Teen South Carolina flubbing her geography.

Combine that with the Internet’s penchant for cats, and a craze is born.

However, different movies in several genres had been additionally going viral throughout this time interval.

This contains LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE! by Chris Crocker, which obtained 50.7 million views and 657,000 engagements.


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The video is now unavailable as a result of Crocker closed his YouTube account in September 2015.


Many individuals mistakenly suppose that the one movies that go viral are ones that includes animals, infants, and dancing. Well, this isn’t essentially true.

Year four: May 29, 2008 to May 28, 2009

Now, I acknowledge that my subsequent instance encompasses a cute child, which undercuts the assertion that I’ve simply made.

Nevertheless, David After Dentist remains to be value together with in my record of the highest viral movies of all time.


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Uploaded in January 2009, it has 140 million views and 547,000 engagements.

And what’s the backstory? Well, David DeVore Sr. took the video of his son, David Jr., in May 2008. For the subsequent seven months, he solely shared the video with household and mates. Then he uploaded it to YouTube to make it simpler to share.

David Sr. has stated, “Due to the limit YouTube has for the number of emails you can send the link to for private sharing, I chose to make it public thinking no one would think it was as funny as we did. Shows you what I know.”

The video went viral and the DeVore household was quickly invited to affix the YouTube Partner Program, which enabled them to monetize “David After Dentist.”

According to Time, “…it’s paying off: the DeVores have made nearly enough to cover David’s (eventual) college education.”


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What classes does this educate entrepreneurs?

First, slice-of-life movies can go viral. Who wouldn’t share a video that encompasses a child who asks, “Is this real life?”

Second, if YouTube invitations you to incorporate one of your extra unforgettable movies in its Individual Video Program, simply say, “Yes.”

Now, let me share a robust instance of a viral video from YouTube’s fourth 12 months that doesn’t embody humorous cats, cute youngsters, or outdated dance strikes: Susan Boyle – Singer – Britain’s Got Talent 2009.

Uploaded in April 2009, this video had 96 million views as of August 2010, when the clip was faraway from Britain’s Got Talent channel resulting from a copyright declare by Alain Boublil Music Ltd.

However, there are nonetheless copies on YouTube. This contains Susan Boyle – Britains Got Talent 2009 Episode 1 – Saturday 11th April | HD High Quality, which has 252 million views and 1.1 million engagements.

So, what’s the lesson in viral movies that includes Susan Boyle?


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Dr. Karen Nelson-Field performed rigorous analysis on this matter on the University of South Australia’s Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science. And she printed her findings in “Viral Marketing: The Science of Sharing.”

Nelson-Field reported, “When a video included a creative story of personal triumph, it was shared more than other creative devices” (together with child/younger baby, animal, and dancing/singing)…

She added, “Interestingly, despite being a more applicable creative device for ensuring sharing success, personal triumph is rarely displayed in viral video content. In our sample of 800 videos, it appeared in less than 3 percent of all videos.”

She concluded, “Personal triumph, therefore, represents the best opportunity for marketers.”

Year 5: May 29, 2009 to May 28, 2010

In YouTube’s fifth 12 months, one of the extra memorable viral movies was JK Wedding Entrance Dance.

Uploaded in July 2009, it has 102 million views and 510,000 engagements.

Okay, so this video options dancing. And, the subsequent one features a man on a horse, which is an animal.


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Of course, I’m speaking about Old Spice | The Man Your Man Could Smell Like. Uploaded in February 2010, it has 59.7 million views and 261,000 engagements.

Now, perhaps I don’t must level out the apparent, however this viral video is an advert.

In reality, it was half of a marketing campaign that consisted of eight YouTube movies, which tallied a complete of 98.7 million views and 337,000 engagements.

And the marketing campaign was for an on a regular basis hygiene merchandise, so who would have guessed that it will go viral?

But, that’s not all. In July 2010, Noreen O’Leary and Todd Wasserman of Adweek reported that month-to-month gross sales of Old Spice Body Wash had elevated 107% after the marketing campaign.

So, are there some other classes to be taught? Well, this viral video encompasses a “talking head.”

That’s the derogatory time period given to TV commercials that consist of a pitchman extolling the virtues of a product. Now, many company individuals argue that speaking heads aren’t “creative.”


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But, as David Ogilvy stated in his traditional ebook, Ogilvy on Advertising, “When I write an commercial, I don’t need you to inform me that you just discover it ‘creative.’ I would like you to seek out it so attention-grabbing that you just purchase the product.” Amen.

Year 6: May 29, 2010 to May 28, 2011

Another viral video that doesn’t characteristic animals, infants, or dancing is the BED INTRUDER SONG!!!

Uploaded in July 2010 by Schmoyoho, it has 150 million views and 1.three million engagements.

What can entrepreneurs be taught from the most-watched video of 2010? Well, the Gregory Brothers took the quirky tv interview that Antoine Dodson gave after his sister’s tried assault and turned it right into a chart-topper for Auto-Tune the News.

The subsequent viral video options singing. It’s Rebecca Black – Friday.

Originally uploaded in March 2011 to Ark Music Factory’s channel, that model obtained greater than 166 million views earlier than it was faraway from YouTube in June 2011 resulting from authorized disputes between ARK Music and Black.


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However, the “official version” that was uploaded to Rebecca’s channel in September 2011 has 153 million views and a pair of.2 million engagements.

So, what’s the backstory on this video? Well, it didn’t go viral in March till websites like BuzzFeed and Reddit posted it as “the worst song ever.”

That’s proper, Rebecca Black’s pop anthem went viral solely as a result of individuals had been making enjoyable of her.

But Jeremy Scott, the co-founder of CinemaSins, thinks all of us obtained trolled arduous.

In March 2011, he wrote in Tubular Insights, “We’ve been set up and manipulated – played like a second-hand guitar. Not by Black, mind you – I remain fairly convinced that she’s just a normal 13-year-old. I think the real puppet master here is Ark Music Factory.”

He added, “Ark Music Factory is the company that produced the video, and I think they made this whole thing happen. To be clear: I think they knew the song was bad… I think they uploaded it anyway… and I think they set about using social bookmarking and social media sites to specifically gain the video some views based on its poor quality.”


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Now, he admitted on the time, “I don’t have any proof… obviously. But I do have plenty of red flags and circumstantial evidence.”

This included:

  • The video was initially on Ark Music Factory’s channel, not Rebecca Black’s.
  • This video was picked by the Internet because the one to mock on the identical day.
  • Ark’s web site had banner advertisements to purchase their artists’ songs on iTunes.
  • People typically sport curated websites for advertising functions.

So, what classes are you able to be taught from this?

Well, there are 5,542 parodies and remixes of Rebecca Black’s “Friday” on YouTube with a complete of 815 million views and 9.eight million engagements.

So, even when you’re skeptical of Scott’s principle, it’s best to nonetheless rigorously think about his conclusion: “The adage that ‘there’s no such thing as bad publicity’ has never been more true than it is today… If you think marketing companies aren’t savvy enough to know that and attempt to capitalize on it – even to the point of mocking the thing they’re charged with promoting – then you’re pretty naive.”

Year 7: May 29, 2011 to May 28, 2012

Now, the subsequent viral video from YouTube’s seventh 12 months was made by a little-known non-profit. It’s KONY 2012.


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Uploaded in March 2012, it has 103 million views and 1.eight million engagements. (This video is age-restricted and solely obtainable on YouTube.)

The unbelievable success of this 30-minute video demonstrates how a comparatively unknown entity can nonetheless make a worldwide affect in social media with highly effective content material and a savvy advertising technique.

What classes are you able to be taught from its success?

In July 2007, Mary Madden, a Senior Research Specialist for the Pew Internet & American Life Project, had stated, “Young adults are the most ‘contagious carriers’ in the viral spread of online video.”

And in March 2012, a brand new report on the viral KONY 2012 video by Lee Rainie, Paul Hitlin, Mark Jurkowitz, Michael Dimock, and Shawn Neidorf for the Pew Research Center discovered the identical sample.

According to Pew’s report, these 18 to 29 years outdated had been more likely than older adults to have heard lots concerning the KONY 2012 video. And they had been additionally more likely than older adults to have realized about it by social media, moderately than conventional information sources.


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In addition, youthful adults had been greater than twice as doubtless as older adults to have watched the video itself on YouTube or Vimeo. So, this needs to be your audience, too.

In May 2012, Uncle Drew | Chapter 1 | Pepsi Max went viral. Featuring Kyrie Irving in disguise, this video obtained 57.7 million views and 239,000 engagements.

Now, this video doesn’t appear like an advert, does it? And in keeping with the video’s description, “Pepsi MAX went to a pick-up game in Bloomfield, NJ, pretending to shoot a documentary on a basketball player named ‘Kevin.’ When his Uncle Drew came into the game, some magical things happened.”

And even when you aren’t a Brooklyn Nets fan, you’ll be able to be taught some helpful, priceless, and sensible classes about making a parody/comedy skit/prank that goes viral simply by watching Uncle Drew.


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Year eight: May 29, 2012 to May 28, 2013

Now, I understand that you just most likely suppose I’m excluding all music movies from this record, however when you return and re-read what I truly stated, it solely “excludes major label music videos.”

Why am I quibbling over what’s excluded?

Because I actually, actually needed to incorporate the subsequent viral video on this record. It’s PSY – GANGNAM STYLE (강남스타일) M/V.

Uploaded in July 2012, it has four.1 billion views and 27.2 million engagements.

As Kevin Allocca, YouTube tendencies supervisor, stated in a submit on the Official YouTube Blog, “This year, Korean Pop music transcended boundaries and took the world by storm.”

And as Chris Atkinson added in a submit on Tubular Insights, “This is a gigantic breakaway hit because, yes, the song is catchy, but the video has everything you want: lunacy, hot girls, and a funky dance.”


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On the opposite hand, Dove Real Beauty Sketches | You’re extra lovely than you suppose (3mins) doesn’t characteristic a cool dance.

This enlightening video went viral in April 2013 and has 69.6 million views and 189,000 engagements.

As the video’s description says, “In one of the most famous Dove films, Real Beauty Sketches explores the gap between how others perceive us and how we perceive ourselves. Each woman is the subject of two portraits drawn by FBI-trained forensic artist Gil Zamora: one based on her own description, and the other using a stranger’s observations. The results are surprising…”

Why did this video go viral?

Well, Susan Wojcicki, the CEO of YouTube, wrote an op-ed in Adweek that stated,

“These video ads don’t just generate impressions, they leave impressions. Women ages 18-34 are twice as likely to think highly of a brand that made an empowering ad and nearly 80 percent more likely to like, share, comment, and subscribe after watching one. We also ran ad recall studies on eight of the campaigns on the Empowering Ads Leaderboard, and all performed in the top 25 percent of their categories, with most in the top 10 percent.”


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Wojcicki additionally requested, “So, if empowering ads are so effective, why are we only seeing them now?”

She stated,

“Partly because women are being called upon to advertise to women. Despite the disappointing fact that only 11 percent of creative directors are women, half of the creatives responsible for the empowering ads on our Leaderboard were women. With women expected to control two-thirds of consumer spending in the U.S. over the next decade, creative agencies would be wise to empower women not just in their video ads but in their own ranks.”

Year 9: May 29, 2013 to May 28, 2014

Here’s one other music video that wasn’t created by a serious label. It’s Ylvis – The Fox (What Does The Fox Say?) [Official music video HD].

Uploaded in September 2013, it has 1 billion views and eight.eight million engagements.

Now, if I must defend my inclusion of this music video, then I can level to Allocca’s submit on the Official YouTube Blog, which listed “What Does The Fox Say?” as the highest Trending Videos for 2013 as an alternative of one of the Top Music Videos for the 12 months.


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Why did this video go viral? Well, it options music that children may like, individuals wearing animal costumes, and plenty of funky dancing. But, perhaps that’s only a unusual coincidence.

On the opposite hand, two different viral movies from YouTube’s ninth 12 months don’t characteristic any of that.

The first is GoPro: Backflip Over 72ft Canyon – Kelly McGarry Red Bull Rampage 2013. Uploaded to the GoPro channel on YouTube Oct. 22, 2013, this sports activities video reveals Kelly McGarry flips a 72-foot-long canyon hole at Red Bull Rampage 2013 to earn 2nd place.

The video has 208 million views and a pair of.four million engagements.

The second is FIRST KISS. As the video’s description says, “We asked 20 strangers to kiss for the first time…”

Uploaded in March 2014, it obtained 149 million views and 666,000 engagements.

Here’s the backstory: WREN, a comparatively unknown model outdoors of trend circles, took the business by storm, and confirmed how a small model with restricted sources may create one of probably the most talked-about advertising campaigns of the 12 months.


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Just a month after its launch, First Kiss had elevated web site site visitors by 14,000% and gross sales by 13,600 p.c.

Not dangerous. Not dangerous in any respect.

Year 10: May 29, 2014 to May 28, 2015

One of the viral movies from YouTube’s tenth 12 months is Always #LikeAGirl.

Uploaded in June 2014, it obtained 69.7 million views and 382,000 engagements.

As the video’s description says, “Using #LikeAGirl as an insult is a hard knock against any adolescent girl. And since the rest of puberty’s really no picnic either, it’s easy to see what a huge impact it can have on a girl’s self-confidence.”

The description additionally quotes Lauren Greenfield, the filmmaker, and director of the #LikeAGirl video. She says, “In my work as a documentarian, I have witnessed the confidence crisis among girls and the negative impact of stereotypes first-hand.”


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She provides, “When the words ‘like a girl’ are used to mean something bad, it is profoundly disempowering…. I am excited to be a part of the movement to redefine ‘like a girl into a positive affirmation.”

But, July and August of 2014 will lengthy be remembered for the Ice Bucket Challenge, which concerned pouring a bucket of ice water over your head to advertise consciousness of ALS, often known as Lou Gehrig’s illness, and to encourage donations to analysis.

One of the movies that went viral was Bill Gates ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. It’s value noting that Gates accepted Mark Zuckerberg’s ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

Uploaded to the Bill Gates channel on YouTube on Aug 15, 2014, the video obtained 37.1 million views and 800,000 engagements.

It’s additionally value noting that the Ice Bucket Challenge raised over $220 million worldwide.


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Another video that went viral throughout YouTube’s tenth 12 months is 10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman.

Uploaded in October 2014 by Rob Bliss Creative, a viral video company, it has 50.four million views and 161,000 engagements.

This viral video additionally generated 448 response movies, which obtained a complete of 215 million views and a pair of.5 million engagements.

This included 10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman in Hijab, which obtained 18.9 million views and 238,000 engagements. And, as we’ve all been informed, imitation is the sincerest kind of flattery.

Year 11: May 29, 2015 to May 28, 2016

In YouTube’s eleventh 12 months, it’s value noting that one of the movies that went viral was YouTube Rewind: Now Watch Me 2015 | #YouTubeRewind.

Celebrating the movies, individuals, music, and strikes that made 2015 memorable, the video featured 89 YouTube stars. (Blinding flash of the apparent: This is a sure-fire means to assist a video go viral.)


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It obtained 154 million views and three.four million engagements.

And now for one thing utterly completely different.

Who would have guessed that one of the movies that went viral throughout this 12 months could be Obama out:’ President Barack Obama’s hilarious last White House correspondents’ dinner speech.

And who would have guessed that it will have been uploaded by Global News in April 2015 and go on to get 50.eight million views and 566,000 engagements?

Here’s the backstory: As President Obama was getting set to go away workplace, he didn’t maintain again in his last speech on the White House correspondents’ dinner, firing barbs at himself, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders, and Justin Trudeau.


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Obama stated, “If this material works well, I’m going to use it at Goldman Sachs next year. Earn me some serious Tubman’s.”

Hey, there are tons of classes that content material creators and video entrepreneurs can be taught from this man. Obama’s 2008 presidential marketing campaign crew was named #1 within the Fast Company 50.

The journal stated, “This year’s most successful startup took a skinny kid with a funny name and turned him into the most powerful new national brand in a generation.”

Fast Company added, “The team has become the envy of marketers both in and out of politics for proving, among other things, just how effective digital initiatives can be.”

Another video that went viral the next month has modified the viral video panorama as we all know it. Uploaded by Candace Payne to her Facebook web page in May 2016, the video was initially known as, “It’s the simple joys in life…” There, it obtained 180 million views and a pair of.9 million engagements.

Then, a model was uploaded to YouTube, the place it was named, LAUGHING CHEWBACCA MASK LADY (FULL VIDEO). There, it obtained 13 million views and 158,000 engagements.


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Altogether, 1,561 movies of the “Chewbacca Mask” lady or girl had been uploaded to YouTube (678), Facebook (458), Instagram (307), Twitter (117), and Twitch (1).

They obtained a complete of greater than 200 million views and over four.7 million engagements. But, the lion’s share of each views and engagements had been on Facebook, not YouTube.

And, what lesson can actually everybody within the social video business be taught from that?

Well, shortly after Payne’s video went viral, Facebook began making strikes to change into “video first” in July 2016, in keeping with USA Today.

And shortly after that, Mark Zuckerberg began speaking up Facebook’s “video first” technique in November of that 12 months, in keeping with USA Today.

The course of of going viral began mutating in sudden instructions. Coincidence? I feel not.

Year 12: May 29, 2016 to May 28, 2017

Up to this time limit, YouTube content material creators had relied on their creativeness to create nice content material which may unexpectedly get an intense psychological response like happiness, exhilaration, amazement, inspiration, hilarity, heat, or shock. They needed to set off viewer motivation to not solely watch but in addition to love, touch upon, and share their video.


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An excellent instance is Samsung India Service (SVC) – Most Watched Video in 2017 – We’ll take care of you, wherever you might be.

The video’s description says, “This video shows a story of how a young Samsung Engineer undaunted by rough terrain, attends to a customer complaint in a remote hilly area. His efforts help bring up smiles on the faces of a group of children, for whom their Samsung Television is the medium to celebrate their special moment.”

Uploaded to the Samsung India channel on Dec. 30, 2016, this four-minute-long video has 212 million views and 217,000 engagements.

From this level on, many (however not all) YouTube content material creators may additionally leverage the massive base of subscribers that many (however not all) YouTube influencers had constructed through the years.

They may borrow a web page out of the YouTube creator playbook, which shared the know-how developed by a technology of YouTube content material creators to develop content material methods that may resonate with 21st-century customers.


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And as much as this time limit, YouTube content material creators had relied on promoting to monetize their views and engagements – incomes 5 figures per 12 months at first after which six figures per 12 months on YouTube.

But, from this level on, many (however not all) YouTube influencers began creating sponsored movies for manufacturers, typically making much more cash.

For instance, take a look at Ping Pong Trick Shots three | Dude Perfect.

Uploaded to Dude Perfect’s YouTube channel in April 2017, which has 56.2 million subscribers, this sponsored video for Oreo obtained 308 million views and seven million engagements.

Up to this time limit, viral movies had been uploaded to YouTube first after which shared to Facebook and different social media.

But from this level on, many (however not all) movies that went viral began being uploaded to each platforms concurrently.


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And as much as this time limit, many viral movies had featured private triumph, a child/younger baby, a parody/comedy skit/prank, dancing/singing, an animal, or another inventive system.

But from this level on, many (however not all) movies may go viral by offering helpful, priceless, and sensible suggestions, tips, and hacks.

For instance, take a look at Get intelligent together with your muddle…and these 7 group hacks!

Uploaded to Blossom’s Facebook web page in May 2017, which has 56.5 million subscribers, it obtained 451 million views and 16 million engagements.

Get clever with your clutter...and these 7 organization hacks! Facebook Page screenshot.

Year 13: May 29, 2017 to May 28, 2018

The must construct a big base of subscribers so as to enhance the chances of having your movies “go viral” has prompted some (however not many) manufacturers to begin appearing as in the event that they had been media firms.


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Instead of creating “hero” content material a couple of times a 12 months, they began creating “hub” content material a couple of times every week.

What’s “hero” content material?

Well, it’s the sort of content material that you just need to push to an enormous, broad viewers. You know, your Super Bowl second. A model might need just one hero second in a 12 months, akin to a product launch or an business tent-pole occasion.

For instance, YouTube continues to create hero content material as a result of it continues to work.

YouTube Rewind: The Shape of 2017 | #YouTubeRewind celebrated the movies, individuals, music, and memes that made 2017 memorable.

So many content material creators had been featured within the video that the outline couldn’t embody all their names. The video obtained 238 million views and 5.6 million engagements.

Hub content material, however, is the sort of content material that you just develop regularly to provide a contemporary perspective in your goal’s ardour factors. This content material is uploaded a couple of times every week.


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For instance, take a look at Door within the Sky. Uploaded to Red Bull’s Facebook web page in November 2017, which has 49 million subscribers, it obtained 264 million views and 5.7 million engagements.

Door in the Sky Video Facebook page screenshot.

But, that’s simply the tip of the iceberg.

Red Bull uploaded 2,484 movies to its Facebook web page from May 29, 2017, to May 28, 2018.

It additionally uploaded 1,883 movies to its Instagram account and one other 581 movies to its YouTube channel throughout that interval.


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And these 5,302 movies obtained a mixed whole of greater than three.5 billion views (that’s billion with a “b”) and 158.eight million engagements over 365 days.

And 106 of these movies obtained greater than 1,000,000 views and 100,000 engagements.

These are viral movies by anybody’s definition. And, on common, Red Bull is creating greater than two of them every week.

Want an Instagram instance of hub content material? Then, take a look at @kingjames takes it and wins it with the Tissot Buzzer Beater! #ThisIsYourTime.

Uploaded to the NBA’s Instagram account in May 2018, which has 35.2 million subscribers, this sponsored video for luxurious watch model Tissotgot three.9 million views and 807,000 engagements.

Screenshot of LeBron James after a winning shot.

But, we’re simply scratching the floor. The NBA uploaded 133 sponsored movies to Instagram from May 29, 2017 to May 28, 2018.


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It additionally uploaded 170 sponsored movies to Facebook and two sponsored movies to YouTube, which earned 267.four million views and 29.9 million engagements over 365 days.

Just 112 of these sponsored movies obtained greater than 1,000,000 views and 100,000 engagements. So, these are additionally viral movies by the definition that we’ve been utilizing.

On common, the NBA is creating greater than two of them every week. And when you think about that the common season begins in late October and the playoffs finish in early June, then the NBA’s sponsored movies are going viral about three to 4 instances every week when basketball video games are literally being performed.

Year 14: May 29, 2018 to May 28, 2019

This brings us to the ultimate 12 months that I wrote about two years in the past. In my earlier article, I requested a rhetorical query: “Do you really need your videos to go viral in order in order to generate results these days?”

With 20/20 hindsight, I wish to ask for a mulligan. It seems that rumors of the loss of life of viral movies had been tremendously exaggerated.


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For instance, many business observers – together with me – mistakenly thought that the so-called Facebook Apocalypse of January 2018 signaled the loss of life of viral movies on that platform.

Hey, even Adam Mosseri, who was then the Head of News Feed for Facebook, stated on the time, “Because space in News Feed is limited, showing more posts from friends and family and updates that spark conversation means we’ll show less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers or businesses.”

But, regardless of the apocalyptic prognostications of business observers, 10 tips you didn’t know you can do together with your meals!, which was uploaded to Blossom’s Facebook web page on Sept. 18, 2018, nonetheless managed to get 489 million views and 10.four million engagements.

Although this content material is not obtainable, MetDaan Fashion posted a video entitled, 10 tips you didn’t know you can do together with your meals!, to Facebook on April 9, 2021.

So, you may get an concept of why this style of content material went viral.

Facebook page screenshot of the video 10 tricks you didn't know you could do with your food.

Meanwhile, 2019 turned out to be the breakout 12 months for TikTookay. For instance, on Feb. 19, 2019, Caleb Cutler uploaded “Food Surgery” to his TikTookay account.


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His video about surgical procedure on a banana went viral and obtained 6.5 million likes.

Tiktok screenshot of a video on food surgery.

Meanwhile, probably the most appreciated creator video of the 12 months on YouTube was aptly titled, Make This Video The Most Liked Video On YouTube.

Uploaded by MrBeast on Jan. 16, 2019, it has 90.6 million views and 18.four million engagements.

Now, when you suppose that TikTookay has compelled me to alter my rating standards, you then’re proper.


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The (world) rating of this collective endeavor to create probably the most appreciated video on YouTube relies on “likes” of movies uploaded in 2019, excluding movies from artists, manufacturers, media firms, and kids’s content material.

Hey, Ralph Waldo Emerson as soon as wrote, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”

Besides, together with probably the most appreciated creator video of the 12 months, MrBeast additionally had one of the highest trending movies of 12 months, and one of probably the most considered YouTube channels of the 12 months, making his presence and affect not possible to disregard.

And, in the end, he used that affect to convey the YouTube neighborhood collectively – by ultra-charitable problem movies, and a large creator collaboration, #TeamTrees.

Within the primary week of launching the marketing campaign with Mark Rober, over three,800 movies had been uploaded with the #TeamTrees tag, as creators around the globe joined the trouble to lift $20 million to plant 20 million timber.

Year 15: May 29, 2019 to May 28, 2020

On April 9, 2020, the Ohio Department of Health uploaded Flatten The Curve – Social Distancing Works to their Facebook web page.


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Their video obtained 123 million views and 1.eight million engagements.

Screenshot of Flatten the Curve – Social Distancing Works on Facebook.

On May 22, 2020, Jordy Wilson uploaded Wind wave to his outdoorkindaguy account on TikTookay. Featuring “Lose Control” by Meduza, Becky Hill, and Goodboys, the viral video obtained 27.eight million likes.

TikTok screenshot of wind wave.

As I discussed in my submit, Top-Trending 2020 YouTube Videos Demonstrate Longer Is Stronger, the typical size of the top-trending YouTube movies was 18:33 final 12 months and the median size was between 15:43 and 17:13.


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So, short-form movies could be the vivid shiny object, however don’t depend out longer-form content material.

In reality, the #2 top-trending video final 12 months, Backyard Squirrel Maze 1.Zero- Ninja Warrior Course, was 21:39 lengthy.

The description says, “Squirrels were stealing my birdseed so I solved the problem with mechanical engineering :)”

Uploaded to Mark Rober’s channel on YouTube on May 24, 2020, this instructional video has 76.eight million views and a pair of.four million engagements.

Year 16: May 29, 2020 to May 28, 2021

It’s value noting that the top-trending 2020 video, eight:46 – Dave Chappelle, was 27:20 lengthy.

Chappelle says within the video’s description, “Normally I wouldn’t show you something so unrefined, I hope you understand.”

This will not be a particular however moderately an impromptu purging of emotions and ideas delivered by Chappelle throughout his present in Ohio on June 6, 2020, shortly after George Floyd’s loss of life.


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Uploaded to Chappelle’s Netflix is a Joke channel on YouTube June 11, 2020, this enlightening video has 30.three million views and 997,000 engagements.

Meanwhile, Bella Poarch formally created the most-liked video on TikTookay in August 2020.

Her lip-syncing video, Bella does M to the B, obtained a whopping 50 million likes for merely bopping her head to “Soph Aspin Send” by Millie B.

Screenshot of the TikTok video Bella does M to the B.

Of course, prank movies like SHE WAS SUNBATHING 🤣 (PARODY), proceed to be widespread, 12 months in and 12 months out.


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Uploaded by Julius Dein to Facebook on Dec. 16, 2020, this video is three:17 lengthy. And it obtained 733 million views and four.1 million engagements.

Screenshot example of a prank video.

What Lessons Can You Learn From the Top 40 Viral Videos of All Time?

So, what priceless classes can content material creators and video entrepreneurs take away from inspecting the movies which have gone viral over the previous couple of years?

Many of the important thing tendencies had been noticed in July 2019 by the Google/Insight Strategy Group, which requested 12,000 individuals worldwide what they’d watched within the final 24 hours.


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Their solutions had been reported in an interactive characteristic on Think with Google entitled, What the world watched in a day.

The contributors, ages 13 to 64, watched all kinds of content material, starting from conventional media to on-line video.

This included YouTube (78%), Subscription VOD (45%), Facebook (43%), cable TV (39%), Instagram (33%), satellite tv for pc TV (28%), community web sites (28%), and Snapchat (12%).

The survey requested individuals to decide on their No. 1 purpose to observe from a listing of 20 causes and located the next outcomes:

  1. Helps me chill out and unwind.
  2. Teaches me one thing new.
  3. Allows me to dig deeper into my pursuits.
  4. Makes me chortle.
  5. Relates to my passions.
  6. Is inspiring.
  7. Makes me neglect concerning the world round me.
  8. Keeps me in-the-know.
  9. Addresses social points which can be vital to me.
  10. Has excessive manufacturing high quality.
  11. Helps me be environment friendly.
  12. Is on a community or platform I like.
  13. Is straightforward to observe on-the-go.
  14. Doesn’t require my full consideration.
  15. Reminds me of my life.
  16. Takes me again to a different time in my life.
  17. Has its finger on the heartbeat of tradition.
  18. Created by individuals like me.
  19. Makes me really feel half of a neighborhood.
  20. Has well-known actors.

Right there, you’ve got an extended record of ways in which a video’s content material can faucet into your audience’s private pursuits and passions earlier than you get to the community or platform that it’s on.

In different phrases, content material remains to be King. The platform is – at greatest – a Baron.

In reality, the power to assist individuals dig into their pursuits was twice as vital as being on a most well-liked community or platform. And it was 4 instances extra vital than that includes well-known actors.


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So, sure, tendencies within the digital video advertising enterprise typically don’t transfer in a straight line. Some tendencies and fashions change. Other actions and issues don’t. And nonetheless, different developments and crazes unexpectedly transfer sideways.

But, if there may be one over-arching lesson are you able to be taught from reviewing the highest 40 viral movies of all time, then it’s: Create content material value sharing.

Yes, you’ll be able to add it to completely different platforms.

Yes, you can also make it in longer or shorter codecs.

And, sure, your viewers could watch it on a spread of completely different gadgets.

If you need tons of individuals to assist your video go viral by sharing it with all of their mates, household, and colleagues, then create content material that helps them chill out and unwind, teaches them one thing new, permits them to dig deeper into their pursuits, makes them chortle, pertains to their passions, is inspiring, makes them neglect concerning the world round them, retains them in-the-know, or addresses social points which can be vital to them.


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In quick, two-thirds of what makes a video go viral is content material that speaks to what they’re keen about. Only one-third is the platform that they like.

Now, that’s a priceless lesson that’s value studying, whether or not you’re a content material creator or a video marketer.

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Image Credits

All screenshots taken by writer, June 2021

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