What are the most popular types of YouTube videos in 2021? [Infographic]
I don’t talk about it a lot, but in the early 2000s, I built a thriving online community with thousands of members.
It had a website, a lively forum, an extensive photo gallery and, in its later years, a popular YouTube channel filled with original and exclusive content. Before you get too impressed, it was a community made up of teenage fangirls of now-renowned Bollywood actor Shahid Kapoor — but that’s beside the point!
At the tender age of 15, I somehow attracted and maintained an audience on YouTube – although plenty of brands and businesses with far more resources than a Compaq computer in their older brother’s room fail to do the same.
A quick Google still reveals artifacts from my fangirl past.
With over two billion users logging onto YouTube every month, brands would be remiss to ignore the platform in their marketing strategy. However, like any marketing initiative, simply uploading a video to YouTube isn’t going to guarantee views, shares, likes, or success. Success comes down to creating the right content.
A big part of this is understanding the type of content that historically does really well on the platform; in this case, the different kinds of YouTube videos get viewed most, especially by your audience.
Mediakix, an influencer marketing agency, broke down the top 16 most popular types of videos on YouTube in a handy infographic below, but is this the right content for marketing your business?
What kind of YouTube videos should I make?
Video can and should be used at all stages of the marketing funnel.
Here at IMPACT, we often stress that clients and businesses in general start with a series of videos we call The Selling 7, but the fact is, these videos are extremely bottom-of-the-funnel. They’re primarily for prospects who already know you or are already in conversation with you. In other words, many make the most sense on your website or to be used in assignment selling, not really YouTube.
But that doesn’t mean you just forget about video.
As the second-largest search engine in the world (behind only its parent company Google), the biggest opportunity for most businesses on YouTube is getting found or pulling people into the top of the funnel. It’s building awareness and, as detailed in They Ask, You Answer, the best way to get found by a qualified audience is through education.
A study by Pew Research found that 51% of people turn to YouTube looking to learn, while 28% say they visit to pass time. With this in mind, use video on YouTube to address the five categories all buyers are researching when it comes to making a purchase, regardless of industry, product, or service. We call these The Big 5:
- Cost and pricing
- Problems (theirs and yours)
- Comparisons and versus
- Best-of lists (best in class, best practices)
Several of the most popular types of YouTube videos fall right in line with these categories and the goal of building trust. But more on that later.
Ultimately, the bottom line is to create the video that makes the most sense for your audience and brand. Address their questions, concerns and interests thoroughly and honestly in your videos on YouTube (as you would in your blog articles), and people will see you as the trusted expert they want to work with.
The 16 most popular types of YouTube videos
A commentary video is a video where someone expressions their thoughts or opinions on a particular subject.
As a business, you can use this type of YouTube video to reflect on current events or developments in your industry or related to your offering. For example, if HubSpot made a controversial or game-changing update to its platform, someone on our team would respond by sharing how this update affects clients like ours.
2. Product review
A product review is exactly what it sounds like — a detailed assessment of the quality and/or performance of a product.
In these videos, people discuss a product or service they’ve used, what their experience was like and whether they would recommend it or not. YouTubers frequently combine this with the “unboxing” of a product, capturing their real initial reactions which can be extremely important in our experience-driven economy.
Although an unboxing may not make sense for many brands (especially B2B), reviews are one of The Big 5 and are likely something your buyers are looking for about you, your competitors, or something you sell.
When you honestly review a product, discussing both positives and negatives — especially one you sell — viewers know that you’re not just out to make money, and begin to trust you. They see that you want to help them make the best decision for their needs, even if it doesn’t benefit you.
Take this example from IMPACT client Yale Appliance:
3. How-to (Tutorial)
How-to videos are educational videos that give viewers a visual step-by-step of how to accomplish a particular task. This could be anything from how to cook your favorite Indian meal or re-create a celebrity makeup look, to how to use an app integration or install your washer and dryer depending on your business.
This is another video type that falls right in line with They Ask, You Answer. Think about what your clients are asking to do and create videos around those processes.
I love this educational video from Guitar Center on “How to Use a Guitar Pick”:
Meanwhile, Purple does a wonderful job of creating product-focused, bottom-of-the-funnel how-tos like this one showing “How to Unroll Your Purple Mattress”:
4. "Top" list
Similar to the “Bests” category in The Big 5, top lists are videos where YouTubers rank or discuss their favorites in a particular category or the best examples in a particular category.
A great example of this video from IMPACT’s YouTube channel, where my teammate Alex Winter shares the five best digital marketing apps and tools:
Don’t lie, now — you’ve definitely turned at some point to YouTube for a good laugh, or at least had a good laugh at a video someone showed you on the platform. Looking at the popularity of YouTubers like Liza Koshy (17.7 million subscribers) and channels like Bad Lip Reading (8.02 million subscribers), this is no surprise.
The cliche is true: laughter is a universal language. Incorporating relevant comedy and humor into your content can humanize your brand, but only if it suits your audience or brand. Not sure if it’s right for you? Consider testing the waters with a playful holiday video to see how your buyers respond, like our friends at The Weidert Group did:
Humor is one of the few types mentioned here that is valuable at both the top and bottom of the content funnel.
6. "Challenge" or meme
These are similar to comedy videos except they are created in an effort to capitalize on a current trend or meme. Follow similar precautions when creating these for YouTube. Think about what your ideal customer will want to see and what aligns with your brand.
Reaction videos are those where YouTubers or thought leaders respond to something relevant to their audience. These can be similar to commentary videos, used to express your unique perspective on developments in your industry or changes at your own company.
As They Ask, You Answer preaches, most of your content should be driven by buyer questions, and Q&A (or question and answer) videos tackle this head-on.
Q&A videos answer questions submitted or frequently asked by their buyers and can be extremely valuable when done by thought leaders or subject matter experts at your organization. Brands can use these to tackle questions at any stage of the funnel.
Similar to a Q&A, interviews can be highly engaging YouTube videos centered around a conversation or dialogue. Use interview videos to, again, have thought leaders and experts in your organization field burning questions from buyers or prospective buyers.
Docuseries are a series of videos following one particular event or subject. Perhaps this could be used to tell a customer story or offer a behind-the-scenes look at your company’s culture.
Arguably any of these video types listed here can be educational! But, when we say educational in this context, we’re usually referring to things that are a bit more evergreen or fact-based. Use these videos to educate your audience on foundational topics related to your product or service.
For example, take this video from GEICO. Regardless if you end up buying from GEICO or not, any insurance newbie would be able to learn something from this video explaining what an insurance deductible is:
12. Music video
Music videos are extremely popular on YouTube as well. In fact, I’m sure it’s the only place most people see them these days, but unless you’re in the music field or feeling particularly creative, this may not be the best match for most brands.
Narrative videos are ones that take the viewer through a story. For brands, these can manifest as customer success stories or even sharing an educational history.
Gaming videos, in this context, are usually recordings of individuals actually playing or sometimes reviewing a video game. These are niche to the gaming industry.
ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) videos are a recently popular video type capturing the sounds of everyday experiences (e.g., cutting a piece of paper with scissors). Like gaming videos, these are extremely niche and not the best match for most industries.
These, as the name suggests, are videos centered around competitive sports or athletic stunts. Once again, if related to your business, it can be extremely valuable, but not something you should explore randomly.
Check out the full infographic from Mediakix below.