What You Need to Know Before Becoming a YouTube Star

Lately for me the big question is how to transform content into a Trend? or, simply, what do I have to do to become a YouTuber? For most people there are many aspects of digital media that are a mystery. That’s why first I started to get to know the conversations around YouTube.

Just like Twitter, this platform visualizes topics that are shared in society through lists ordered by an algorithm. YouTube set the agenda like any traditional media, It has a method of selection and omission of certain content in permanent circulation. Because of this I’m interested in exploring the videos that position in the platform as ‘Trends’, a list that is shared to all the users from a country and it’s not available for sponsored content.

The first thing that we can assume is that video views must have a big part in the relevance to be in the Trends ranking but Google goes beyond that. In order to be in YouTube Trends the content must be embedded in the web’s most popular websites.

I wanted to know more about the structure of the Trends. Therefore, I scraped the information of Argentina’s YouTube Trend during May 2017. With a little help from Stack Overflow I downloaded data in .csv about the videos (url, channel information, views and interactions). I established the scope of the study in the 20 most popular videos to recognize similarities and patterns in YouTube Trends structure.

Some findings:

  • 35% of the YouTube channels that were trending were from Argentina. This means that more than a half of the videos (65%) are created in other countries. Spanish channels are very relevant (26%) and a considerable percentage (12%) are from users that don’t register the country of publication.  
  • Only 5% of Trending channels are from Chile. However, the channel JuegaGerman was in Trends 21 times during the month.
  • In the top 20 channels with more frequency in YouTube Trends, the first 16 positions aren’t from Argentina. In the 17th position is C5N, a tv news channel that was trending during 7 days in the month.
  • The video games category was the most frequent in Argentina’s YouTube Trends. JuegaGerman, Fernanfloo and VEGETTA777 were the most popular channels in the ranking.
  • There is no direct correlation between the frequency of the channels in Trends with the total video views or interactions.

The sections or categories of YouTube are determined by the users that share content through their channels. The content generators can choose between 10 categories but besides that, they have the power to tag their videos.

When I focus only in YouTube channels from Argentina, the distribution of Trends during May is different, the video games category doesn’t lead the ranking. Just four users concentrate the category with their content, even though they don’t position themselves very often in Trends, they can surpass in video views the entire section of news and sports.

According to an analysis from Backlinko, the YouTube search ranking is influenced by the comments count in the videos. These don’t seem to have the same impact in the case of Trends. During may, news YouTube channels positioned as a Trend 40 times and were one of the three categories with more frequency in the ranking but it didn’t correlate in video views or interactions.

30% of Argentinian channels that were trending during may classified their contents in People and Blog section. In this case there is a correlation between ranking and the number of video views but It doesn’t repeat as a rule in every category, like the mentioned before.

For a better close up to a content analysis of YouTube channels from Argentina I limited the scope to the top 5 videos with more trending frequency in the categories that resulted more relevant for the algorithm: People and Blogs, Entertainment and News.

From a total of 15 videos, eight were fragments of tv programs. This shows that YouTube still is used as an extension of the massive impact of traditional media. For example, C5N, a tv news channel, did live streaming's in the platform and ranked in the Trending list. The traditional channel has it’s digital strategy in YouTube with the objective of amplify the reach to it’s audience in office hours. During the month, C5N published three live streaming's that ranked in the top 20 Trends for two days each.

Besides live contents, videos related to football and politics are very relevant in Argentina’s YouTube Trends. Fragments of tv shows without any additions from the users ranked in the top 20. These means that their role in the platform was more of distributor than generator of original content.

People and Blogs category stands out with a content that was repeated for two different users that maintained the conversation around the viral case of Anto, a girl that found the spotlight with a private video for her friends that became a joke for many users. The video had only 18 seconds of a girl finding Anto while commuting. The purpose behind the content was to show that she wasn’t a character of the internet. During seven straight days this topic ranked in Trends.

Other disturbing content that trended in YouTube Argentina for it’s social implication was a video titled: ‘Kid manipulates a gun, shoots and kills’. Since the publication has been censored by the platform for it’s explicit and violent images. The video lasted four days in YouTube Trends without any filter in one of the most viewed places of the platform with content that incited hate to a kid.

From the luminous side of the Argentinian content creators in YouTube only two channels stood out in the most popular Trends: Mica Suarez and PILO. These channels highlight for their effort to create original narratives for YouTube with good quality. The focus in their content is pure entertainment, PILO through a twist of the tv show ‘Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?’ and Mica Suarez with the story of a meeting with her pre-teen self.

Summing up:

  • YouTube users from Argentina watch content mainly produced by foreigner channels.
  • The Argentinian trending channels predominate fragments of tv shows.
  • Only two channels produce content specifically for YouTube. The rest distribute tv content digitally or become a showcase of situations in the street with very low definition or even a defined purpose.
  • Violent content filters in YouTube need to be adjusted because the algorithm can maintain as a trend videos that incite hate, specially with minorities.
  • Many trending videos have the only objective to mock, discriminate or judge. That’s the case of Anto, for example.
  • Argentinian YouTubers don’t achieve enough relevance to compete in YouTube Trends in the same level than their peers from España, México or Chile where their content creators communities are more developed and sustained with advertising.