Tackling trends on YouTube isn’t easy. It’s a balancing act, a tightrope walk, another metaphor for balancing between two things. Here’s how to get it right.
Trendiness is tricky. If your attempt at following a trend fails, you could end up in a “cringiest videos” compilation put together by some dude with Windows Movie Maker. If it goes right… Stardom! Fame! Enough subscribers to get you into YouTube Rewind, even if you aren’t Will Smith! Let us guide you to the other end of the tightrope, like your own personal Nik Wallenda — the record-breaking tightrope walker I learned about while procrastinating writing this article — but for trends on YouTube.
“But I’m not a sell out”
Why should you create content based around a trend? To begin with, you’ll be making content that people are already interested in. Topics trend for a reason — they’re engaging, relevant and entertaining. The potential to attract a new audience is definitely part of the appeal in following a trend. It’s also, let’s be honest, usually pretty dang easy. Trends are simple to follow by design and can be executed in a small time frame with minimal resources. This allows you to create more content for your channel, which appeases the Almighty Algorithm.
In the words of Ru, “don’t f*ck it up”
Following trends has its appeal, but as with anything online, there’s the potential to do it wrong. Let’s not forget that time Alfie Deyes did the “£1 A Day Challenge,” a trend designed to raise awareness about rising poverty levels in the UK, only for the YouTuber to complain about not being able to eat the endless free frozen yogurt his celebrity status had given him. No shame in being thirsty for views, but don’t be so thirsty that you drink tap water from your £1.7M home and complain about it online. When following a trend, be sure to understand the roots, the culture and what you’re doing. Failure to do this will result in cringe-worthy content at best and having to upload a video insisting you’re not a Tory at worst.
When a channel is built entirely on trends, it becomes clear that the YouTuber is making content for views, which can take away from the authenticity. Trends are fun, but you don’t want people to visit your channel after loving one of your videos and seeing nothing except for reaction videos and challenges. Don’t be that person. You’re reading an article about how to tastefully tackle trends on YouTube, and so it can be assumed that you’re not that person, but it’s always good to check.
It’s also important to ensure the content aligns with your values and content you enjoy. This is advice that should guide all videos you make, but it’s especially important not to get swept up with a trend and abandon what your channel is about, your personal values or the type of content you’d ideally be putting out anyway.
*David Bowie voice* Let’s Trend!
The best YouTubers adapt and twist trends to suit their own channel and use the trend as inspiration to create a video that their existing audience will love. This can be difficult if you have a niche audience, where adapting the trend to suit your channel’s direction is crucial for not alienating existing fans. Raphael Gomes, a food vlogger from Portugal and based in London, smoothly incorporates trends into his channel by making it related to food. As the “Instagram Followers Choose My X” trend peaked, he had subscribers decide his meals for that day. When in doubt, just imagine that Tyra Banks meme saying “trending, but make it your brand.”
Another way to make trends your own is to truly transform the trend and make something different. When daily vlogs were on the rise, there were two stand-outs for the genre — Casey Neistat and Adrian Bliss. Neistat, a YouTube staple, incorporated his passion for cinematography, storytelling and editing to make mini works of art masquerading as your average daily vlog. Adrian Bliss took the complete opposite approach, creating a parody series of the daily vlogging genre, complete with transparent money grabs, a fake relationship and a forced catchphrase. What made both creators successful was their ability to see a trend and adapt it so flawlessly that you forget it’s even a trend and begin to simply appreciate the content for what it is. Make sure that, even when taking on strange or seemingly-bland trends, you make them your own and create something your audience will be obsessed with regardless of whether it’s related to a trend or not.
Trends may get a bad wrap, but they have the ability to inspire content you never would have thought to create and to attract a fully new audience that’s excited to see what you make next. Your creativity and unique brand will make your content stand out, so go forth and trend!