What is a Reaction Video?

As other trends have come and gone, the genre of reaction videos has endured on YouTube for well over a decade now, and it is clear they are not going away any time soon. Though the platform has undergone various changes over time, the premise of a YouTube reaction video has mainly remained the same: a creator watches an existing piece of content and films their reaction to it, often with added commentary.

Why Make Reaction Videos? 

Reaction videos are, at their most basic, a useful tool for engaging with other creators. Whether a creator seeks to educate an audience, continue a conversation, or form a critique, these videos create a medium for those discussions to exist. Reaction videos can be particularly helpful for smaller channels looking to grow their audience. By reacting to a more popular channel or video, your name will begin to pop up as people continue to search for content from that creator. Conversely, reaction videos can also be a powerful tool for larger creators looking to introduce their audience to a smaller channel.

Before You Begin 

So you want to make a reaction video? Before you begin this process, there are some things to keep in mind. Producing a reaction video requires that you use at least part of another creator’s original content. So long as you are adding your commentary to the video, this usage should fall under a law commonly referred to as fair use. However, because fair use cannot be ensured by YouTube alone and varies depending on where you live, it is essential to familiarize yourself with the laws in your area. 

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Learning From The Pros 

If someone wanted to see the video you are reacting to in its entirety, they would simply watch the original video. Think of any YouTube video like the start of a conversation. What does your voice have to contribute? YouTubers like Brad Mondo and Tristan Paredes have become popular for their more educational reaction content. These creators have used their preexisting knowledge, as a hairstylist and vocal coach, respectively, to educate their audience while interspersing their humor and personality. Think about what you individually can add to a reaction video. Do you have expertise in a particular area? Finding a niche can be extremely helpful in standing out among a sea of other reaction videos.

Vocal coach and YouTube Tristan Paredes reacts to James Charles Tik Tok. photo credit: Tristan Paredes

Even content that is less explicitly educational can benefit from establishing a unique perspective and place of authority from which to speak. YouTuber, MacDoesIt has a series of reaction videos where he responds to online bigotry. By using his lived experience as a black gay man, MacDoesIt can turn otherwise harmful content into comedy. 

Editing A Reaction Video

Editing can be your friend when reacting to particularly long-form content. MacDoesIt utilizes snappy, fast-paced editing to enhance his comedy and trim down longer content. Reacting to a 20-minute video can easily generate over 40 minutes of footage if there are no cuts. Remember that viewers are watching for your unique voice and opinions; they do not always need to see the full video to which you are reacting.

Final Notes

Remember that even if you are reacting to a video for comedic purposes, there is always another person on the other side of the camera. Be sure to respect the time and effort that goes into making a YouTube video when publicly responding to a fellow creator. Some types of jokes can lead to dogpiling and hate from loyal subscribers. Above all, remember to be kind. Happy reacting!