Data-Driven Tips to Make a Video Go Viral on YouTube

Trending YouTube Videos Data Analysis with Python


Zhaoyi Wang

3 years ago | 4 min read

Are you still struggling with making your videos go viral? Trying all the “magic formula” but didn’t work? Here are some facts and insights you must know about trending YouTube videos.


In this blog, I will analyze the Trending YouTube Video Statistics from Kaggle, specifically focusing on the data in the US market.


  • A Glimpse at the Data
  • What types of videos are more likely to be trending?
  • Do descriptions or tags matter?
  • Days Between Publishing and Trending
  • Data-Based Tips

Photo by Rachit Tank on Unsplash

A Glimpse of the Data

  1. Shape: The dataset has 40,949 entries and 21 columns (16 in the original dataset)
  2. Missing values: Only column “description” has 1.39% missing values. Let’s leave it like that.
  3. Date range: The trending dates range from 2017–11–14 to 2018–06–14, seven months.
  4. Statistics of numerical columns:
  • trending_delta — days between publishing and trending
  • n_tages — number of tags
  • len_description — number of words in the video description, if no description, then set the length to zero

What types of videos are more likely to be trending?

Popular Channels

If a channel already acquired a considerate amount of loyal audience, its videos will be more likely to blow up. Let’s take a look at these favorite channels.

The most viewed are celebrities and movie production studio’s official channels. It’s a good idea to include stars or movie clips in your content so your videos will get a bigger chance to be recommended based on YouTube’s algorithms.

Sports, news, and late-night TV shows channels are like viral video factories. You may not want to compete with them by posting similar content.

Popular categories

Curious about what categories are most beloved on YouTube? Just keep reading.

Music and entertainment videos have most views, way more than any other categories.

What’s the takeaway from these two plots about popular categories?

We can see the two main motivations why people go to YouTube — the first is to have fun (entertainment, music, comedy, etc.), the other is to learn some new stuff (how to, science & technology, education, etc.)

If you are an expert in a particular field and generous to share your knowledge, or you are a master of humor, don’t hesitate to become a YouTuber. You will be surprised by what you can achieve.

Do descriptions or tags matter?

How long are the descriptions of viral videos?

The distribution plot is extremely left-twisted, meaning most are relatively short. The correlation between views and the length of the description is -0.031 — not correlated. You don’t need to write a whole paragraph. A good video tells everything.

What about the number of tags?

We can see that number of tags varies for trending videos. The correlation between views of a video and its number of tags is -0.051, meaning they are not correlated. Videos with only less than five tags or as many as thirty tags can have an equal chance to become a hit. So, stop racking your brain for more related tags.

What matters then? The answer is always your content. But what content is more likely to be engaging, quantitively speaking, getting more views? The word cloud of tags will give you an answer.

The outstanding tags suggest similar ideas as we analyze the channels and categories — music, sports, TV shows, and movies always catch people’s eyeballs because people go to YouTube to enjoy themselves.

Remember what do people always want on YouTube? To Learn!

See the “makeup tutorial” and “life noggin.” You can try to teach others anything you good at. Someone is out there waiting to learn.

Days Between publishing and trending

Are you checking the views every minute after posting the video? Don’t hurry. Let’s take a look at how long it takes for a video to be popular.

On average, it takes about 17 days for a video to be viral.

121 videos went viral on the same day as published. 82% of the trending videos got widely viewed within ten days.

But as we can see, this data is highly skewed. There are also about 0.5% that took more than a year to go viral. The grossly exaggerated one is “Budweiser wassup commercial.”

budweiser wassup commercial with 3.5 million views

It took 4215 days, which is 11.5 years!

Try to be patient for ten days. If the views are not up after that, don’t ever lose hope. Your video can go viral after years. After all, fashion goes round in circles.

Data-Based Tips

  1. Try to include what’s popular: music, movies, TV-shows, sports, celebrities. Find yourself some clues in the word cloud.
  2. You are the winner if you can make people laugh.
  3. Try to share your knowledge or teach people something you good at. It can be anything.
  4. Don’t bother writing a super long description or bringing in many tags. That won’t help.
  5. Be patient about when your video can go viral. It takes years sometimes.

Now, do you have some ideas for your next YouTube video?

All the visualizations are created using Matplotlib and Seaborn in Python. You can find all the scripts in my GitHub.


Created by

Zhaoyi Wang







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