Deciphering YouTube’s List of 2017’s Top Trending Videos


As 2017 comes to a close YouTube has put together a list of the top trending videos of the year and the it’s more eclectic than you might anticipate. If you guessed a man wearing an oyster costume singing on a Thai reality singing competition would be at the top of this list… you would be right! But who could’ve guessed? If you haven’t seen this video it’s definitely worth a watch and it certainly solidifies the 2017 list as being one of the weirdest collections to date. Sometimes, bizarre is all it takes to make a video go viral.

This year’s list includes 12 year old singing ventriloquist Darci Lynne, Ed Sheeran’s Carpool Karaoke, Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl LI Halftime Show, and children interrupting a BBC television interview (Sean’s favorite) and it’s definitely got us trying to decrypt how and why some of these videos get so much play.

There’s a huge amount of unpredictability when it comes to creating viral content. So, we decided to take a crack at figuring out WHY these videos trended, hoping to gain a better sense of their key attributes so that we can apply them to our own videos for clients.

Cultural Relevance

Just like a comedian who makes people laugh by playing to the common frustrations of everyday life, a video’s viral potential is directly correlated to the number of people that can relate, hence the success. All of these videos recognize a shared cultural knowledge or an idea to which many people can relate to and that’s why it achieved such popularity. So if you’re trying to get lots of views, make a video that can appeal to the greatest number of people.


Timing can make or break you when it comes to creating viral content. Current pop culture topics, events, scandals, music, shows, people etc. have a significant influence on the success of these videos. One way to create viral content is to capitalize on a topic that’s already “hot”. The “Inauguration Day” Bad Lip Reading went viral because it was both funny and current. The satirical video offered a humorous departure from the very serious political commentaries that were flooding the internet at the time.

Celebrity Appeal

Having a celebrity featured in your video definitely increases your chances of going viral. Celebrities already have a large following and you can guarantee at least a certain level of success because their followers and fans will find interest in your video. They are celebrities for a reason and there’s something about each of them that attracts an audience to their work. If they are in your video, that following will come to you and boost your view count. The Carpool Karaoke series is the perfect example of this.

Don’t Try Too Hard

Really.. don’t. If your video seems forced or inauthentic you are just not going to achieve your viewership goals. Going viral happens organically, you are not in control so don’t think too too hard about it! People are often attracted to the authentic quality of a video, not necessarily the production value. Just take a look at the “History of the Entire World, I Guess” video that was the eighth most viewed video of the year. It’s the simplicity and amateur visual effects that make the video so funny and so unique.


Everybody loves to laugh, and everybody loves to make their friends and family laugh. For that reason alone, laugh out loud content is extremely shareable, and thus capable of racking up the views. You’ll notice that seven of the ten most viral videos of the year had comedic elements to them. That’s not simply a coincidence.

Check out YouTube’s 2017 list of top 10 trending videos by following this link and let us know what you think makes a video go viral in the comments section below. And good luck with your own videos in 2018!