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8 Ways to Go Viral on YouTube in 2023

Published August 11, 2023

Every YouTuber’s dream is to wake up one day and discover that at least one of their videos has gained over a million views. After all, such a number comes with additional income, a new audience, and better business opportunities. In fact, it’s an indicator that your online career is going down the right path.

But going viral on YouTube is a challenging task. The competition is tough — millions of videos are uploaded every day, many of which come from already-established creators. Is there even room for you and your channel in such an environment?

We believe there is an audience for every niche; you just need to identify yours. And while no one can guarantee that your videos will go viral, there are ways to increase your chances.

What Does Going Viral Mean?

Typically, when we say a video has gone viral, we mean it has amassed millions of views in a short period of time. That’s because the viewers find it relatable, funny, or sometimes even offensive, causing them to share the video on social media and spread its reach.

However, while that’s the general definition of a viral video, going viral can also mean different things depending on the creator’s perspective. For example, if someone is used to getting a few hundred views on their content, a video with ten thousand would be viral to them. On the other hand, big YouTubers consistently have millions of views on their videos, so they define virality differently.

It’s worth noting that videos aren’t the only type of content that can go viral. A post or image can gain popularity quickly, too, spreading across the Internet like wildfire.

How to Go Viral on YouTube

1. Be Consistent With Your Uploading Schedule

While you might be one of those lucky creators that go viral with the very first video they post, chances are pretty slim. Most viral videos come from established YouTubers who had worked on building their following for months or years before their content took off.

In other words, you need a strong foundation and loyal viewership to increase your chance of going viral. And the best way to gain the two is by regularly posting high-quality videos in your niche. That way, you teach your audience it can rely on you for new content, and the algorithm favors consistency too.

But how frequently should you post, exactly? That depends on your availability and preference, but usually, regular posting means uploading daily, weekly, or monthly. We recommend sticking to a video per week, as such a schedule gives you enough time to come up with and develop a new idea and doesn’t force your audience to wait for too long.

In addition, always upload on the same day and at the same time. If you do, your subscribers will quickly learn your schedule and remember to tune in as soon as you post. And that, of course, translates into more views!

2. Try Going Short and Sweet

It’s well known that YouTube prioritizes longer content and heavily promotes 10-minute videos. And when building an audience or aiming for long-term results, uploading such content is the right way to go. But if you hope to go viral, an opposite approach might yield better results.

When you think of viral videos, which app comes to mind first? At this point, it’s likely TikTok, where trends and clips go viral almost daily. Yet, all content on TikTok is short, usually not even hitting the one-minute mark. Clearly, audiences love content that is quick, to the point, and easy to digest as they’re taking a break from their daily tasks.

Seeing TikTok’s growing power, other platforms also started featuring short-form content. YouTube is no exception — it introduced YouTube Shorts, which exists specifically to promote short, TikTok-style videos.

And YouTube Shorts might be the key to achieving virality. Make a quick video for YouTube Shorts, optimize it for your keywords, and include trending hashtags. Then, let the algorithm work its magic. And if it doesn’t yield results the first time, don’t give up. The more you post and experiment with various options, the better you will become at understanding what your audience wants to see.

3. Draw the Audience in With a Thumbnail

As every YouTuber knows, a thumbnail can make or break a video. A good one often entices the viewers to watch the content and even draws in new audiences. On the other hand, if a thumbnail doesn’t click with the public, you might notice a significant dip in your views.

So, if a thumbnail can make such a difference, it’s crucial to get it right when making a video you want to go viral. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to thumbnails. What works for someone else in your niche might not work for you, and vice versa. Still, it’s a good idea to check what similar creators are doing to get inspiration and test their approaches on your audience.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when making a thumbnail:

  • Make sure it’s relevant to your video’s content,
  • Include a shortened or paraphrased version of your title directly in the picture,
  • Add your own photo if you show yourself in the video,
  • Colors and exaggerated expressions draw in younger audiences,
  • Use contrasting colors,
  • Include your brand’s logo if you have one.

But even with all the advice you find online, coming up with a perfect thumbnail-making formula requires trial and error. Check your analytics each time you try a new design to see whether it has significantly impacted your views.

When it comes to trends, opinions tend to be polarized. Some YouTubers follow all trends, hoping to get traction on their videos and channel that way. Others criticize such behavior, claiming it’s best to stay true to yourself rather than be swayed by every popular new thing. But which group is actually correct when we speak of achieving virality?

Well, the truth is that most viral videos on YouTube have somehow participated in a trend. That doesn’t mean you should blindly follow everything trendy — your viewers will quickly pick up on it and question your authenticity. But you should at least be aware of what’s popular and add your own twist to it.

The most successful videos aren’t those that simply jump on a certain trend at its height. By that point, there will already be thousands of creators attempting the exact same thing. Instead, YouTubers who can accurately predict trends and make related videos in the early stages usually go viral. In a sense, they are the ones who start or spread a certain trend before the whole platform becomes aware of it.

But is there an actual way to predict trends, which often seem surprising and random? If you spend some time studying viral videos on platforms, as well as observing trends in popular culture and the world, you’ll probably be able to crack the code. It takes work and experience, but it’s certainly worth the results.

5. Engage With Other Content Creators

YouTube may seem like a solitary job where your only company is your camera and video editing software. But even though you don’t all work in the same office, remember that other creators are essentially your colleagues who can share valuable tips and insights, as well as their viewers.

So, if you know of any other creators in your niche, reach out to them. You shouldn’t immediately ask for collaboration or promotion, but you can start by asking for tips or expressing your admiration for their content. Building networks may seem trivial compared to all the other work you need to put in to grow your channel. But connections with fellow YouTubers can prove invaluable and even lead to your first viral video.

For example, a YouTuber you’ve been in touch with for a while might accept your request for collaboration, including you in their video and giving you exposure. Another could mention or post links to your videos, sending their audience your way. Through word of mouth, your channel could end up on a big creator’s radar and if recommended, experience a huge boost in viewership.

And this scenario is nowhere nearly as unlikely as it may sound. It happened to countless YouTubers, and it can happen to you. So, don’t write off networking as a waste of time, and start reaching out to other creators!

6. Be Relatable

Videos that go viral are often those we want to share with others, usually because they are funny or relatable. Ideally, you want to achieve both, but if comedy is not your strong suit, relatability alone can do the job. After all, people like to relate and feel like they aren’t alone, and your viewers are no different in that aspect.

But what exactly does it mean to be relatable on YouTube? Many creators think it’s trying to appeal to the audience by saying exactly what they expect them to say. And for a while, that approach really might bear results.

Unfortunately, keeping everyone happy is not just impossible but also exhausting in the long run. So, it’s best to try to be relatable to your audience simply by being as authentic and human as you can.

In other words, connect to your audience by sharing your experiences and talking about your life. You don’t have to go into personal details here — in fact, it’s best to avoid oversharing. But you should show your human and vulnerable side from time to time, as that’s what your viewers can relate to.

7. Share Your Content on Other Social Media

YouTube may be your primary platform for sharing content, but you likely have accounts on other social media as well. If that’s the case, it’s a good idea to reshare your YouTube videos there as well.

For instance, you could include links to your channel in your Instagram bio and use Reels to show off clips from your videos. TikTok is another great platform for sharing short-form content and driving traffic toward your videos and channel. Ultimately, the more exposure you get, the more likely you are to go viral.

If you feel comfortable with it, you could ask your subscribers to share your videos on social media. But make sure to produce useful and shareable content that your followers will gladly repost. In such a case, sharing will come naturally, and you won’t need to encourage your viewers to take action.

8. Tackle a Controversial Topic

If you’re ready to take a bit of a risk, exploring a controversial subject can bring you a lot of clicks. That can be any topic people are divided on, especially if you have a strong opinion on the subject. However, make sure to do your research before turning on the camera.

If your video does take off, be prepared to face various reactions. Some viewers may agree with you, and others won’t, which is to be expected. Unfortunately, not everyone expresses their disagreement in a pleasant way, so don’t be surprised if your comment section isn’t as peaceful as usual.

And remember — making content on controversial topics doesn’t mean purposefully trying to rile up a crowd by saying outrageous things. Of course, you could do that, and it could bring you temporary attention. But you’ll also alienate many of your viewers and possibly damage your channel’s reputation in the long run. And that’s a steep price to pay for a larger number of views on a single video.

Hard Work Yields Results

If you try everything we’ve listed in this article and still don’t get the desired response, don’t despair. And more importantly, don’t give up. It might take a while, but as long as you are passionate and work hard, you’ll definitely see your channel grow. Many popular YouTubers needed years to take off, so keep your chin up and make great content!

Learn More About YouTube Marketing

  1. Is It Safe to Buy YouTube Views?
  2. Boost Your YouTube Likes
  3. How to Sign Out of YouTube
  4. Who Has the Most YouTube Subscribers?
  5. Top 10 Most Viewed YouTube Videos of All Time
  6. How to Enable Dark Mode on YouTube
  7. How to Cite a YouTube Video
  8. How to Delete YouTube Videos
  9. Why You Might Be Losing YouTube Subscribers

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Written By:
Jessica is a writer who specializes in social media, marketing, and digital strategy. She is a graduate of Antioch College and earned her MBA at Boston College’s Carroll Graduate School of Management, specializing in STEM Management. Her work has been published in numerous academic journals and mainstream publications. She lives in New England with her husband, two children, and three dogs.
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