YouTube and its viewers are growing up—together.
A 2013 round-up of the online network’s top videos reveal a more focused attempt by creators to appeal to their constituents. Viewers are more actively responding to creators and content with parodies and videos of their own.
With 80% of YouTube viewers outside of the U.S., the creative well and viewing trends have taken on a global flavor and, by sheer audience size, spilled over into mainstream media in the process.
"This year, you really started to see how video phenomena impacted and shaped broader mainstream culture," says Kevin Allocca, YouTube’s head of culture and trend.
Top videos often share certain traits. "They’re unexpected and unique, and they’re things we can participate in, like making our own version of the Harlem Shake or a Miley Cyrus Wrecking Ball parody," adds Allocca. "You’re seeing top videos from professionals, channels, and seasoned individuals who are producing at a regular pace, actively trying to make things engaging and informative, and building on an existing fan base."
Audience interaction is becoming increasingly important. "Content success isn’t just in the hands of the original creator, but the fan whose reactions and creations around it lead to greater pickup," says Shira Lazar, host and executive producer of the YouTube show What’s Trending. "YouTube is a place where brands and individuals are engaging with communities.
"You’re seeing the beginnings of the next generation of media brands," adds Lazar. "These are individuals who are connecting with a generation that is not engaging in traditional media. They’re building powerful audiences and communities—not just on YouTube, but on Twitter, Instagram, their own dot-coms and apps, and then using those platforms to build bigger businesses."
Click on the slide show for YouTube's top videos and how they reflect audience behavior.