Last week, Kevin Allocca, Head of Culture & Trends at YouTube, announced the most popular videos and developers for 2020.

If you're a social video showrunner, video content strategist, or audience development manager, you must spend more than three hours watching all of this year's top 10 trending videos in the US to unlearn what You learned about creating "Snackable" content. "

If you're a YouTube video artist, content marketing strategist, or social media marketing director, you will at least want to read this article.

It explains why a lot of conventional wisdom about how long a YouTube video should be is wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong!

Correctly. The shortest of the 10 most popular videos is 7:59 and the longest is 41:47.

The average length of the most popular videos is 18:33 and the median length is between 15:43 and 17:13.

And I'd bet dollars on donuts that the vast majority of the video content your business or clients are currently creating, tweaking, and uploading to YouTube is significantly shorter.

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So you have to ask a counter-intuitive question:

"If the YouTube algorithm takes engagement metrics into account, such as how long and how much a video user wants to see, is it stronger for longer?"

Well, according to Allocca:

“While engagement on YouTube has increased, these 10 videos received the greatest response from US viewers. Together they were observed more than 356 million times and for around 48 million hours. The channels behind it include more than 175 million subscribers. "

I would call that a big "yes".

Now when you have 183 minutes and 30 seconds to spare, you can judge for yourself by checking out all 10 of the top trending videos of 2020 embedded below.

However, if you're pressed for time, scan my comments on each video to see how the developers not only quickly adapted to the unforeseen challenges of 2020, but also catered to the unique, personal needs of their community.

1. Netflix is ​​a joke – "8:46 – Dave Chappelle"

This top video with a length of 27:20 was uploaded on June 11th.

Chappelle describes it as: "Normally I wouldn't show you anything so unrefined, I hope you understand."

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This is not a special one, but a spontaneous cleansing of feelings and thoughts that Chappelle uttered during his show in Ohio on June 6, 2020 shortly after George Floyd's death.

His insightful video has 29.1 million views, 895,000 likes and 87,000 comments.

2. Mark Rober – "Building the perfect squirrel-proof bird feeder"

This video, which is 9:39 pm, was uploaded to YouTube on May 24th.

The description says: "Squirrels stole my birdseed, so I solved the engineering problem :)"

This instructional video has 50.4 million views, 1.8 million likes and 79,700 comments.

3. SNL – "First Debate Cold Open"

This top video with a length of 13:40 was uploaded on October 4th.

The description reads: "Chris Wallace (Beck Bennett) is moderating the first presidential debate between Donald Trump (Alec Baldwin) and Joe Biden (Jim Carrey)."

This entertaining video has 30.0 million views, 560,000 likes and 60,700 comments.

4. JeffreeStar – "We broke up"

This 17:15 video was uploaded to YouTube on January 11th.

The description says: “Thank you very much for the love and support in this difficult time. 💔 I will be filming and creating with makeup again soon. My heart tries to heal and repair. I love you so much. "

This insightful video has 33.1 million views, 1.5 million likes and 243,000 comments.

5. MrBeast – "I bought the biggest fireworks display in the world ($ 600,000)"

This top video with a length of 11:08 am was uploaded on July 3rd.

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The description says, "I can't believe I spent that much money on fireworks lol."

This entertaining video has 57.3 million views, 2.5 million likes and 153,400 comments.

6. NikkieTutorials – "I'm Coming Out"

This video, which is 5:13 pm, was uploaded to YouTube on January 13th.

The description says, "I love you all so much …"

This inspiring video has 36.4 million views, 3 million likes and 356,500 comments.

7th dream – "Minecraft Speedrunner VS 3 Hunters GRAND FINALE"

This top video, which is 41:47 in length, was uploaded on August 7th.

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The description reads: “Minecraft Speedrunner VS 3 Hunters GRAND FINALE. You asked for it. That was absolutely crazy. "

This instructional video has 52.1 million views, 2.6 million likes and 233,200 comments.

8th NBC – "Ricky Gervais & # 39; Monologue – 2020 Golden Globes"

This 7:59 long video was uploaded to YouTube on January 5th.

The description reads, "Watch Ricky Gervais' incredibly biting monologue from the 77th Annual Golden Globe Awards."

This entertaining video has 16.6 million views, 495,000 likes and 59,300 comments

9. Dude Perfect – "Quarantine Stereotypes"

This 9:42 long top video was uploaded on April 27th.

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The description says: “Quarantine stereotypes. Love her or hate her, we all know her. We dedicate this video to all of our heroes on the front lines! "

This entertaining video has 41.2 million views, 894,000 likes and 60,900 comments.

10. SomeGoodNews – "Some Good News With John Krasinski – Ep 1"

This video, which is 3:43 pm, was uploaded to YouTube on March 29th.

The description reads: "John Krasinski highlights some good news from around the world, including an interview with Steve Carell on THE OFFICE's 15th anniversary and John's newest hero, Coco."

This inspiring video has 18.4 million views, 754,000 likes and 30,300 comments.

Besides the longer than expected length of each video in this list, do you notice any other patterns? Allocca didn't.

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In his post on the official YouTube blog, he said:

"Like many of you, we wouldn't have predicted 2020 would look like this either."

But, added Allocca,

"As protests against racial injustice swept across the nation, Dave Chappelle channeled his thoughts into a spontaneous, socially distant show that captured the emotions of many."

Then he noticed:

“When the audience sought sources of ease, the creators provided no shortage of options: Mark Rober constructed an elaborate ninja warrior course for… squirrels; MrBeast celebrated July 4th with the biggest fireworks in the world. Dude Perfect laughed at the many relatable stereotypes that surfaced in quarantine. and John Krasinski have shared positive stories on SomeGoodNews. "

And Allocca also noted:

"Also included in this year's top trending videos: The Most Watched Coming-Out Vlog of All Time, a Separation Announcement, a New Version of a Popular Game, and an SNL Election Parody."

Yes, the most important lesson you can learn from this list is that all of these trending videos are significantly longer than 2:00 am to 3:00 am, which is what many self-proclaimed YouTube gurus and what is called video marketing experts still recommend.

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This may have been good advice a long time ago, but it has been bad advice since Watch Time replaced View Count in the YouTube algorithm in October 2012.

And in case you're still in doubt that longer is stronger, see the article titled "YouTube Algorithm: 7 Key Findings You Need To Know. ”

It contained data from a study by Justin Briggs, founder and CEO of Briggsby, which found that videos less than 2 minutes in length (on average) fared worse than videos between 2 and 20 minutes in length.

The most popular YouTube videos for 2020 show that longer is stronger

The article says

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"Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that longer videos – when they use storytelling techniques to maintain and pique interest throughout the video – generally rank higher than very short videos." And we shouldn't be surprised that high-profile videos get a lot of views … "

And here we are – 21 months later.

Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that the list of the most popular videos for 2020 in the US consists of even longer videos that are between 7:59 and 41:47 in length.

And as Matt Southern's recent article, "YouTube Reveals New Details About Its Algorithm" points out, the recommendation algorithm will always "follow the audience."

Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised if the list of top trending videos in the US is full of long-form content in a year or two.

On the other hand, YouTube Shorts early beta testing in India may be hugely successful, and the new short-form video experience will be rolled out in the US.

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Then YouTube video artists, content marketing strategists, and social media marketing directors will read the article entitled "YouTube Short Films: An Getting Started Guide". Future lists of the most popular videos will include a new category for short, catchy videos.

Regardless of whether you are creating long form or short form videos, the trick is to make them worth watching.

In order to maximize long-term audience engagement and satisfaction, you need to create some remarkably compelling or engaging content.

As you can see on the slide below from my presentation for the 2019 Content Marketing Conference, there are four main ways to create great content that has intrinsic value to your viewers.

You are:

  • entertainment: Entertaining content makes people laugh, giggle, or laugh out loud.
  • inspiration: Convincing content tells emotional and relatable stories of courage and bravery.
  • education: Informative content – such as a tutorial, instructions or a product review – make the audience smarter.
  • enlightenment: Unique content – like a documentary – rewrites the rules or contradicts society's expectations.

The most popular YouTube videos for 2020 show that longer is stronger

And as you can tell from this year's list of the most popular videos, this content can be insightful, educational, entertaining, or inspiring. Depending on your goals and strategy, you can find several ways to get your audience interested and get them interested in your content.

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Don't assume that you need to keep your videos short, however.

They don't create content for goldfish. You create content for a community of people who have a variety of unique, personal needs.

Also, don't assume that a long length of your videos will automatically make your content more insightful, educational, entertaining, or inspiring.

While your video content must provide intrinsic value to your viewers, that value can take several forms.

How long should your YouTube videos be? Long enough to get to a point.

More resources:

Photo credit

Screenshot made by the author

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