Analyzing Popular YouTube Shorts: What Makes Them Go Viral?

What makes a YouTube Short go viral? We analyzed the most popular ones in 2023 to find out!

Every creator needs a few things to build a successful YouTube video: a good title, an attractive thumbnail, an addictive hook, and, most importantly, some really dope, well-edited content! And this doesn't apply to just regular YouTube videos. You need these tools to create viral YouTube Shorts, too, except you only have 60 seconds to work with.

With 2 billion active monthly users and 15 billion views generated daily, YouTube Shorts is the golden egg you simply can't ignore. So, we picked out the most-viewed Shorts to understand how and why they viral in 2023. Let's begin!

Read More: How to Get More YouTube Shorts Views on Your Channel

1. A Heartfelt Deed with Savage Vlogs (103M views)

A classic YouTube switch and bait, the title of this video is bound to infuriate viewers. But, by the end, the video takes a wholesome turn and we have our faiths restored! The storytelling in the video, accompanied by good music and simple editing, gives it a genuine feel, and we as viewers feel more emotionally invested.

Viral characteristics:

  • Uses a classic plot twist
  • Employs emotional storytelling
  • Shows a feel-good moment

2. Wholesome Art with Justin Flom (112M views)

Telling a wholesome story is great, but sprinkle some artistic talent on top, and voila, you have an instantly viral Short. This creator uses his spray painting skills to paint his daughters’ favorite cartoon. The reveal, along with the uplifting music, leaves us with no other choice but to leave this man a like!

Viral characteristics:

  • Shows a unique talent
  • Documents a creative process, behind-the-scenes style
  • Includes an exciting reveal

3. Satisfying Cleaning with Mountain Rug Cleaning Shorts (121M views)

If you’re addicted to watching cleaning videos on YouTube, then this one shouldn’t be surprising. Just look at how all that dirt washes off in seconds: Isn’t that so satisfying? The editing is crisp too, adding to the overall positive viewing experience.

Viral characteristics:

  • Capitalizes on the trend of #ASMRcleaning from TikTok
  • Shows before and after results
  • Includes a satisfying reveal

4. Parkour Excellence with Matt Larose (328M views)

One thing that rarely fails on YouTube, or any other social media for that matter, is achieving expertise in your skill. Couple that with a unique idea and some cool editing, and you have what it takes to make a viral Short. This man’s parkour skills will leave you wanting more!

Viral characteristics:

  • Displays an exciting talent (parkour jumps)
  • Uses that talent to remix a popular game (tic-tac-toe)
  • Employs a level of creativity beyond most videos

5. Food ASMR with Zach Choi ASMR (224M views)

What do you get when you mix two of the most popular search terms on YouTube? A viral Short! Food videos are great to watch, but adding that ASMR element takes it to the next level. The editing is absolutely world-class as well, giving us some awesome sound effects.

Viral characteristics:

  • Efficient editing leaves no dulls moments
  • Prepares an unexpected treat (a three-layer s'more)
  • Fast-moving clips and sound effects command your full attention

6. A Fun Challenge with Dude Perfect (123M views)

Challenges, especially creative ones, seem to do well in all formats on YouTube. The stakes are high in this video, which keeps the audience hooked until the very end to see who wins the game. Challenges like these are fun to watch and can be remixed by any creator looking to reach more viewers on YouTube.

Viral characteristics:

  • Shows a unique challenge with high stakes
  • Shows the contestants' reactions
  • Ends on a high note and plot twist (the winner doesn't like milk)

7. A Relatable Moment with Adam W (281M views)

Another massively popular category on YouTube is comedy. Although funny Shorts may seem like a saturated niche, you can't fail when your story is original and relatable. In this video, a problem we have all faced before becomes an entertaining comedy skit!

Viral characteristics:

  • Exaggerates a relatable moment
  • The problem keeps escalating, making the Short even funnier
  • Makes you laugh!

8. Sports and Obstacles with How Ridiculous (209M views)

Another challenge video, but this time it’s physical sports. Watching this video will give you a rush of adrenaline as participants move through different stages of the race by playing popular sports we all love! The commentary adds to the hype of the video and keeps you glued to your seat.

Viral characteristics:

  • Keeps you engaged with action-packed adventure
  • Motivational commentary hypes up the challenge
  • Shows a feel-good moment (the victor celebrating)

9. Optical Illusions with Zach King (131M views)

Want to create your own viral Short? It’s simple: Just become a master at editing! Here we have the king of transitions and mind-blowing edits himself, casually stealing the Big Ben, or so it appears. This Short reinforces the idea that if you can master a single aspect of YouTube creativity, viewers will flock to your channel!

Viral characteristics:

  • Shows a familiar yet entertaining character (the pocket thief)
  • Takes editing to a new level of excitement
  • Shows viewers a cool trick they've never seen before

10. A Sensational Offer with Mr Beast (107M views)

You can't talk about the most-viewed YouTube Shorts, or any kind of video on YouTube, and not mention MrBeast! This Short reminds us that the fundamental aspect of what makes a good video, regardless of format, is good storytelling! The title makes you click, and the content makes sure you stay until the end.

Viral characteristics:

  • Shows a cool plot twist (buying someone a Disneyland ticket)
  • Captures the emotional satisfaction of the recipient
  • Fast-paced editing leaves no dull moments

11. Jumping on the Trend with Masteroogway Shorts (181M views)

Capitalizing on popular trends is another great way to make your Short viral, especially now that trends migrate to every platform. Although some trends might originate from other platforms like Instagram or Tiktok, everything eventually comes to YouTube. And if you can add your unique twist, viewers might just repost your content!

Viral characteristics:

  • Creator reacts to a cute moment
  • Capitalizes on the trend of short reaction videos
  • Uplifting music makes the video enjoyable

8 Characteristics of Viral YouTube Shorts

So, there you have it. Shorts go viral on YouTube for a few reasons, but these are the most common:

  1. They have an emotional storyline.
  2. There's a plot twist involved.
  3. The videos show a unique skill or talent.
  4. There's a competition of some kind, often between friends.
  5. The storytelling is on point (music, editing, special effects, etc.).
  6. They show a feel-good moment.
  7. There's a relatable moment.
  8. They make you laugh.

If you’re inspired by this list, get ready to upload your own Short! We've got you covered with 9 viral video ideas.