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We interviewed a YouTube employee about why videos go viral

YouTube is evolving with trends such as multi-language audio and the rise of personalization. In an interview with Kevin Alaka, the global head of culture and trends at YouTube, various topics were discussed, including the impact of AI on content creation, the emergence of virtual humans and VTubers, the importance of cultural perspectives, and the role of fans in driving culture. The interview also highlighted the fragmentation of content consumption and the increasing influence of creators as news anchors for their communities. Overall, YouTube is embracing diversity and personalization, providing opportunities for unique perspectives and creativity.


Key Points

(00:00:04) - YouTube is changing with trends like multi-language audio (00:00:19) - Interview with Kevin Alaka, global head of culture and trends at YouTube (00:00:29) - YouTube culture and trends report highlights top trends from the past year (00:00:38) - YouTube nerds Colin and Samir are fans of the culture and trends report (00:01:03) - Interview dives into trends report and watches videos from it (00:01:16) - Interview with Kevin Alaka, global head of culture and trends at YouTube (00:01:34) - Kevin is YouTube's in-house reference librarian meets social anthropologist (00:02:02) - Kevin's official title is global director of culture and trends (00:02:14) - YouTube needs to understand what's happening on the platform (00:02:35) - YouTube's popularity is driven by creators and consumer behavior (00:03:18) - YouTube follows the audience and creators, unlike traditional media (00:04:08) - Example of an interesting trend: elevator videos with a large audience (00:05:41) - Elevator videos appeal to people with Autism and create a community (00:06:26) - YouTube doesn't make value judgments about what people watch (00:06:53) - Unpacking the meaning behind outlier content on YouTube (00:07:06) - ASMR and the meaningful use of video (00:07:21) - Interest in lawnmower YouTube and soothing experiences (00:08:14) - Growth and change in the creator economy in 2022 and 2023 (00:08:38) - The impact of generative AI on YouTube and content creation (00:09:19) - AI as a part of the content creation workflow (00:10:18) - AI tools enhancing video editing and cutting (00:10:49) - Creators collaborating with AI to enhance content (00:11:17) - AI enabling faster and higher resolution content creation (00:12:25) - AI lowering the barrier to create and changing the shape of culture (00:13:08) - The potential for scripted content on YouTube with AI tools (00:13:46) - The rise of scripted content on YouTube with animation tools (00:14:14) - Storytelling skills of content creators are valuable and hard to replicate (00:14:39) - AI can enhance storytelling by turning videos into different styles of content (00:15:33) - AI can bring YouTube creators' content to life in new ways (00:16:06) - The challenge is to differentiate content when everyone can do everything (00:16:38) - The company aims to find interesting content among the vast amount available (00:17:00) - Unique perspectives and creative ideas will stand out in the future (00:17:46) - AI can make individual perspectives and creative ideas more accessible (00:18:59) - AI is unlocking fan communities and enabling unique trends (00:19:24) - AI-generated videos parodying presidents playing video games have become popular (00:20:56) - The phenomenon of AI-generated presidential parody videos is spread across multiple content pieces (00:21:33) - Concerns about discerning between AI-altered content and real content on YouTube (00:22:33) - Rise of virtual humans and VTubers on YouTube (00:23:19) - Korean creator with AI-generated face (00:24:17) - Potential for people who don't want to be on camera to express themselves through virtual humans (00:25:28) - Possibility of intergenerational creators using virtual humans (00:26:00) - Comfort with AI-generated content as a dividing line between generations (00:26:39) - Creators defining the future of AI technology on YouTube (00:27:10) - Multi-language audio allowing for global communication (00:28:00) - Example of a video with language switching feature (00:28:19) - Mr Beast using actors in multiple languages for his videos (00:28:52) - Impact of multi-language audio on the platform is still in early stages (00:29:16) - Creator using Google's tool "um allowed" to create dubs across different videos (00:29:38) - Future possibility of selecting language for video dubbing (00:30:12) - Global accessibility for creators leads to more competition (00:31:05) - Cultural differences and importance of cultural perspectives (00:31:39) - Language barrier removal promotes empathy and access to different perspectives (00:32:07) - Impact of Korean culture on US entertainment (00:33:11) - Possibility of global creators reaching diverse audiences (00:33:43) - Importance of captions and subtitles for expanding viewership (00:34:56) - Possibility of monocultural moments with global releases (00:35:28) - Interplay between personalized pop culture and language barrier removal (00:35:59) - Connection of subcultures and global communication through video content (00:36:34) - The rise of personalization and shifts in media with generative AI, multi-language audio, and personalized online experiences make it difficult to have a singular stream of culture. (00:36:58) - Rewind, the most disliked video on YouTube, couldn't happen today because everyone's YouTube experience is so different. (00:37:13) - YouTube experiences are vastly different now, making it impossible to create a single view of what's popular. (00:37:34) - YouTube used to be a U.S. Centric platform, but it has become more global over time. (00:38:34) - Dislikes on previous Rewind videos increased because people didn't know who the creators were, as YouTube became more diverse. (00:39:00) - More than half of Gen Z watches content that no one they know personally is interested in, reflecting a fragmented popular culture. (00:39:28) - Creators often struggle to keep up with what everyone else is talking about due to different platforms, formats, and personalization algorithms. (00:41:43) - The internet and YouTube allow creators to find niche communities interested in their unique content. (00:42:18) - The rise of personalization and everyone becoming a creator has accelerated the fragmentation of content consumption. (00:43:10) - Short clips and remixes allow people to experience source material in their own way, tailored to their interests and communities. (00:43:54) - 45% of people in the US prefer to watch creators breaking down a major event rather than the event itself (00:44:14) - People would rather watch a clip or someone else's interpretation of an event (00:44:26) - Many people prefer to hear about big events from creators they follow rather than from the news (00:44:52) - People would rather watch a Marques video about an Apple keynote than the keynote itself (00:45:07) - YouTube is moving in a direction where creators are becoming news anchors for their communities (00:45:19) - Creators should consider the impact of their content on their community (00:45:43) - The Common and Smir world is a subculture within the broader YouTube community (00:46:00) - Fans of creators can also become creators themselves within the community (00:46:19) - There are different levels of fandom within communities, from surface-level engagement to professional fans (00:47:00) - K-pop fans are an example of full-time fans who cover their favorite bands (00:47:38) - Fandom levels can include engaging with content, active participation, influence within the fan community, and even earning a living as a fan (00:49:00) - Many YouTube creators can be described as professional fans (00:49:31) - Being a fan is about being passionate, and passion drives success on YouTube (00:49:59) - Fans play a crucial role in driving culture and creating viral moments (00:50:35) - One viral moment from an interview led to a stream of fan-created content that influenced culture (00:51:17) - Different directions and a trending dance (00:51:23) - Emilio in Jason Derulo's music video (00:51:31) - Different experiences of the same moment (00:51:36) - Not everyone experienced it (00:51:43) - The concept of personalization (00:52:05) - Participation in YouTube talks (00:52:11) - Generation fluent in video expression (00:52:21) - Acceleration of technology and engagement (00:52:24) - Personalization and media creation (00:52:34) - Watching events with creators (00:52:51) - New ways to consume content (00:53:19) - Future implications and AI replacing humans (00:53:29) - Optimism about creativity and unique perspectives (00:53:50) - Access to more perspectives and creativity (00:54:04) - VTubers and virtual humans as new creators (00:54:19) - Opportunities for unique perspectives (00:54:34) - Availability of new tools enhancing creativity (00:56:00) - Rise of personalization and building a core community (00:57:04) - Opening up participation and creating culture (00:57:32) - Never too late to join the conversation (00:58:01) - YouTube Trends for more reports and resources

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