Is going “viral” still possible?

Common trends in videos and photos are seen all across the internet, but Youtube seems to house most of the content. Millions of videos are uploaded on Youtube and even more across other social medias in an attempt to go viral. (Photo used by permission of Homestead Air Reserve Base).

Virality is now splintered across age groups and generations, with younger generations and millennials viewing videos that their parents have never heard of. Youtube is one of the outlets for many internet celebrities to create videos spanning from makeup to daily vlogging life. Each creator focuses their content to a specific age range and can fly under the radar from many people who watch Youtube.

Anything from videos to dance challenges on social media can go viral, but the term originates from videos rapidly gaining popularity on Youtube. Videos such as Gangnam Style, Charlie bit my finger, and The Evolution of Dance all dominated the website at one point and all created a certain new trend. Along with a substantial view count, the videos spread to all ages across multiple social media sites.

Today on Youtube, thousands of videos a day receive a couple million views and some surpass the original viral videos on the site in views. The viewers of original viral videos span multiple countries, ages and backgrounds and often the viral video will stay relevant for a few weeks to months. Yet, many of the videos now are not recognized by many people.

One way for creators to spread their content to a wider audience than just the recommended sidebar, which caters to previously watched videos. Youtube’s trending page highlights around 30 videos on the platform that receive views at an exponential rate. Usually, the top spots go to music videos or tv show trailers which cater to a variety of age groups.

Viral videos occur across all corners of Youtube with different age groups viewing different content. For teens, many channels from the beauty community and teen vloggers have blown up. These solo influencers attract attention from their sarcastic and witty humor. These online celebrities increase day by day in followers and popularity and with so many, it is hard to keep up with everyone.

James Charles is a 19 year old makeup guru who exponentially grew on Youtube over the span of a couple years. Charles boasts 15 million subscribers with around 5-10 million viewers per video, collaborating with some of the largest celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner.

However, while some parents know of Charles, the majority of his viewers and subscribers are focused in the teen to young adult category. Charles attended a launch a makeup eyeshadow palette release in Birmingham, England and attracted a huge teen crowd to flood the local mall. While many teens are aware of his fame, the local news displayed no inclination they ever heard of him before.

While makeup users span a large age range, the older adults rarely watch Youtube, with the most popular social media site for 50-64 year olds being Facebook (60% using the site in adults surveyed in a Pew Research Center poll). In conjunction, the amount of teens on Facebook dropped by 20% since 2015 and if teens are on the site, it is usually for communication with those older relatives.

This variation in popular social media sites explains a large portion of the lack of connectivity in viral videos and viral trends between age groups. Adults and kids social media habits are not similar and because of this Youtube caters to the millennial age. With technology constantly evolving and users joining by the millions every day, it’s possible that adults learn more social media skills.


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