How to make a YouTube channel go viral

What’s the secret to making a YouTube channel go viral? I certainly want to know. I write full time, and the way to make a small fortune from writing is to start with a large one. But YouTube – well, all you have to do is start a channel, go viral, and money flows in.

This is me writing back in 2012, in a little cabin on Rarotonga. With a laptop running Windows Vista.

I figured I’d do some research. Yup. I took one for the team. Here’s what I found.

  1. The most successful YouTube channels involve cooking. The one that sprang out was brilliantly photographed. Why? The guy running it, who’s attracted millions of followers, is a videographer.
  2. After that come videos in which you watch people unpacking the latest Fapple MePhone. Apparently it’s possible to negotiate ‘sponsorship’, so they get the phone free. Hopefully Moog will let me do the same with their Keith Emerson Modular System.
  3. ‘How to’ videos. Want to know how to sharpen a pencil with a chainsaw? Probably somebody’s done a video.
  4. Channels by people who make things. These feature people sanding bits of wood, or painting things and then stepping back to let you watch the paint dry. All in real time.
  5. Specialty interest videos. Fonts of all knowledge. One I saw in my field of expertise – whose creator is fawned over by enthusiasts – managed to repeat every misapprehension and myth about the topic, as if true, in less than three minutes.

So here’s the deal: real-time videos of me at my computer, writing about unboxing consumer products and paint drying. Of course, watching somebody write isn’t interesting, so every so often I’ll leap up and stir a pot on the stove – this will engage the cooking audience. It’s bound to get me millions of followers. Er – have I missed anything?

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2021

11 thoughts on “How to make a YouTube channel go viral

  1. Dear Matthew, Thank you for taking one for the team. I like the way you think but… I’m with Cheesesellers Wife, you should have a cat or ten sitting on your desk and preferably draped over you as you work. Just be careful when you go to stir the pot. 😉

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    1. My wife and I once had a cat that used to especially like sitting right on top of my keyboard. I was able to distract it in the end with an empty box of Xerox paper, which promptly became the new favourite place. But it still had to be near where I was working.

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      1. I’ve had to setup a second desk next to my computer desk with a soft, comfy bed for Golli otherwise he’s in my lap or sitting in front of the screen. Cats know how to get their own way. 😉

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        1. Laughing was the intention. There is no set formula for really making a YouTube video go viral, and the many ‘how to’ instructions out there miss the point that much depends on random social factors and engagement. It is, quite literally, a lottery even if you follow the precise ‘audience capture’ formula – not least because the ‘viral’ outcome includes the indefinable: the engagement between audience and content, which the content creator can guess but never predict precisely. This engagement varies both on the back of evanescent and transient social whim. When tangled with the ever-shifting algorithms that drive the discovery), the result is that ‘going viral’ is impossible to actually engineer. In such circumstance parody seems the only sensible course.

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