September 02 2013 5Comments

14 types of Viral Videos on YouTube

Have you ever wondered why certain videos eventually become viral on YouTube?

After the publication of my latest book “101 Video Marketing Tips and Strategies for Small Businesses “, many people have been interested in viral videos and so I decided  to write this article.

There are several elements that lead to some videos having many views on YouTube, for example, the use of humor, tragedy, sports, current news etc.

However, this time I wanted to highlight those videos that have gotten a large number of views on a relatively short period of time, it’s what is known as viral videos, of which I have compiled a list to offer my personal opinion. It may be that you already know some of these videos, but the purpose of this is not to provide a list of the most watched videos, but to share a list of the 14 types of viral videos of which we can all learn something from.

1. Babies starring in your videos – Evian

Look at this example from Evian, probably you will like it so much that you’ll even watch it twice in a row (I did). It is very difficult to create videos starring babies since on one hand we would have to ask for the right to use the image from the parents, and on the other hand, obviously there are not many baby actors.

One of the most popular and known videos to date that have young children as protagonists is this “Charlie bit my finger – again ! ” Which already has 530 million views. This shows that sometimes with children, simple everyday situations can become a mass phenomenon.

2. Extreme Sports Videos – Go Pro

If we had a list of some of the companies that most products have sold through YouTube videos, we cannot stop mentioning GoPro, which will appear in a fairly high position in this list. They currently have over 470 videos on their YouTube channel and a total of 258 million views. From the beginning one of their marketing strategies has been giving away promotional GoPro cameras to Athletes so that they can then share their videos.

The latest GoPro video has so far 22 million views in just eight months, which incidentally is a very high number of views for a video of 5 minutes of duration.

Tip: Each company related to the sector of adventure tourism or adventure sports could record by themselves or provide GoPro cameras for their clients to record spectacular views since such videos are usually very viral on YouTube

3. Selling music in YouTube – The Piano Guys

One of my favorite bands which make very good use of YouTube marketing and effectively is ThePianoGuys. Besides sharing their impressive videos, they upload many videos of “the making of” and others where they respond to frequent questions from their fans.

In the videos ThePianoGuys include annotations with links to their website where they share information about their latest tour in USA.

Tip: If you’re a musician and want to use YouTube to promote yourself, I recommend creating videos where you answer questions and doubts from your fans, this will help you create your fan club.

4. Adventure and Action Videos – DevinsuperTramp

Uno de mis canales favoritos es el de donde comparte impresionantes videos de sus retos y aventuras. Uno de los más llamativos es este “World’s Largest Rope Swing”. Tras el éxito obtenido con ese vídeo, decidieron ir más allá y realizaron uno aún más increíble, el cual puedes ver aquí:

One of my favorite channels is Devinsupertramp where the author shares impressive videos of his challenges and adventures. One of the most striking ones is “World’s Largest Rope Swing“. Following the success of his videos, he decided to go further and made an even more amazing one, which you can see here

5. Nature in its purest – BBC with David Attenborough

One of the best ways to create viral videos is making impressive natural video clips about nature and animals. An example of this is the video created by BBC along with the voice of the great Sir. David Attenborough

6. Motivational and Exercise Videos

Normally we are drawn to all that which can give us more motivation. Curious enough, this video was created by Nike, but we didn’t know until the end because its logo appears only for a few seconds at the end of the video. Sometimes I play this video in the morning before doing my exercise and it gets me motivated.

7. Videos to promote a cause

It’s time to congratulate all the people who believe in a cause and fight for it until the end, in this case we highlight the work done by #salvemosgalicia who has created this amazing video about the construction of a mine in Galicia Spain which encourages people who disagree to sign a petition against the construction of the mine.

Tip: Whenever you’re promoting a cause remember to indicate very well what the call to action is and in how people that are interested can participate in the cause (And by the way, if you are interested in the Galicia cause, you can see more here

(This video is in Spanish)

8. Making ingenious and striking product presentations – will it blend

All companies that have tangible products should create video tutorials on how to use their products. In this sense, Blendtec (American company that sells blenders) was one of the first companies that started to create demo videos about the high quality of their product, they were so sure of their product that dared to put items as peculiar as an iPhone inside their machines to demonstrate their resistance. This is the classic viral video made by a company

9. Dance videos

Obviously dance videos are among the most popular videos on YouTube. I taught my first YouTube marketing training in 2007 and still remember we discussed this video called “Evolution of Dance” which at that time was the most watched video (those times were before the advent of Gangang style)

Other videos related to dance that have gained considerable popularity currently are Flashmob videos, one of the most popular ones is the video created by the British company T-mobile in 2009

Tip: if you make dance videos make sure that you have the rights to use the songs played in the video in order to avoid YouTube removing the audio like what happened with the video of the airline company called Vueling

(A few years ago I participated in the recording of a libdub (similar to flashmob) it was so successful that they made a tourism congress in Baix de llobgerat where I was honored to participate as a speaker, you can watch the video here )

10. Optical Illusion Videos – Brusspup

Another interesting category is the viral video of optical illusions, the video that leads this category in YouTube is

One of the most popular videos of Brusspun is:

11. Video to introduce new technology products – Project Glass – One day

Within a short time anyone will be able to buy the Google Glass and start using this new technology. The main marketing technique used to promote Google Glasses is video, there are already a lot of videos on YouTube and among them one of the most popular videos has been created by Google itself, which currently has more than 21 million copies and is the third most viewed video in the
main channel of Google on YouTube.

12. Videos of Presentations of Travel Destinations – “Traveling with Diego” in South Africa

For several years I’ve had the pleasure to work in tourism marketing, and therefore know many professionals in this sector, this time I would like to highlight the work of my friend Diego Pons with whom I have shared many events. In this video Diego travels to South Africa and performs a spectacular jump from a bridge from which spectacular views of Bengi, South Africa can be seen. This video has received 120,000 views in just a month and a half and has also been featured in several travel fairs etc. ..

Making this kind of video is a challenging task for both the stage and by the extreme conditions of the recording, since there are scenes that are recorded while making a leap, with strong wind and difficulty keeping the camera steady, that’s why we must congratulate Diego for the spectacular images he recorded during his trip.

13. Sharing inspiration – Randy Pausch Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams

Randy Pausch Last Lecture (Oct. 23, 1960 – July 25, 2008)
It’s a classic in terms of motivation and inspiration videos since Randy has great tips for students on how to achieve their childhood dreams. The original video has over 15 million views and you can see it here

14. Letting people imitate and copy you – PSY – GANGNAM STYLE

In the history of YouTube we cannot ignore the case of the great success obtained by the Gangham style song by Korean artist Psy. It currently has more than 1,600 million views and is the most watched YouTube video, although it was uploaded to YouTube in July 2012. The secret of success obtained by this viral video is due to the fact that this was one of the first royalty free songs, i.e. free to copy, to imitate and to make your own version to share on YouTube. This has increased viral promotion of the song. In the future we will see more examples similar to the case of Gangnam Style.

Passion for Gangnam Style has crossed the Gangnam style world, but especially in South Korea it’s enjoyed to a 100% as you can see here

If you want to learn to create your own viral videos, I would recommend to follow the tips that my friend Gideon Shalwick shares in this video

What do you think of this list?

What are your favorite viral videos? You can share them in the comments section.




  1. […] 14 types of Viral Videos on YouTube – Lasse Rouhiainen After the publication of my latest book “101 Video Marketing Tips and Strategies for Small Businesses “, many people have been interested in viral videos and so I decided to write this article. There are several elements that lead to some … […]

  2. […] 14 types of Viral Videos on YouTube – Lasse Rouhiainen Have you ever wondered why certain videos eventually become viral on YouTube? After the publication of my latest book “101 Video Marketing Tips and Strategies for Small Businesses “, many people have been interested in viral videos and … […]

  3. Lasse,

    I really enjoyed this post with the concepts that make videos go viral. I will start using some of these ideas in my video marketing efforts. 🙂

  4. Thanks Adam, on your comments let me know how it goes

  5. This was helpful. I saw Jay Shetty at Traffic and Conversion and missed on of his “5 types of viral videos.” What I wrote from his talk was
    1 adventure
    2 comedy
    3 humor
    4 controversy
    5 emotion
    Since “humor” and “comedy” are the same – I’m still wondering what that 3rd type is 🙂
    Thanks for this post!

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