6 Emotional Triggers That Unlock Massive YouTube Views

What's the secret to gaining more YouTube views? According to science (and plain old observation), these emotional triggers provide a major boost.

Getting YouTube views is always challenging, but it’s a lot easier when you speak to a viewer’s heart. What are their fears? Which memories transport them to a simpler time? How do other people affect their decisions?

Most people have deep, emotional triggers, and YouTube viewers are no exception. Depending on the content you show them, emotions like anger, fear, and curiosity simmer in their minds.

But why is this important? Research shows that emotionally-charged videos are twice as likely to be shared than those with weak emotional cues. So if you want more views on YouTube, start crafting dynamic content.

These six emotional triggers will give you a head start!

1. Nostalgia

Most people get nostalgic a few times each month. As a YouTube creator, you can harness this phenomenon by making “throwback” content that speaks to your audience’s past. Nostalgic memories like riding a bike, eating McDonald’s for the first time, or playing on a hot summer day will connect viewers with their youth (and your YouTube channel!).

This strategy works well because, surprisingly, most people aren’t looking to the future. A study by YouGov and the7stars found that 55% of people would rather return to the past than skip ahead to the unknown (28%).

And we can see that on YouTube. Channels like REACT are pulling in massive views (over 100,000) with videos like “Gen Z Tries 90s ‘As Seen On TV’ Products.”

2. Novelty

The science behind novelty is intriguing yet pretty straightforward. During a novel experience, people focus more on different stimuli, such as sights, smells, sounds, and temperature changes.

Of course, YouTube is all about sight and sound. So if your viewers “see” and “hear” your unique video — and it’s novel enough to stand out — you can make viewers watch for longer. This increase in watch time may influence the algorithm to share your content with more people.

To take advantage of this hack, create rare, odd, or unusual videos on YouTube.

A good example is “100 Most Rare People in the World” by PrestonReacts. It’s quirky, unexpected, and has 1.5 million views!

3. Curiosity

For many viewers, boredom is the number one reason they seek entertainment. But getting people to click on your videos — and not some other creator’s — is easier said than done. There are billions of videos to choose from, and people click on what feeds their curiosity the most.

Making curious content is a tricky art form. It involves using powerful words like “secret” and “discover” to build tempting video titles. You also need an excellent thumbnail to reinforce the video’s mystery.

Need some inspiration? Watch “Japan’s Secret Island Where People Never Die” by Yes Theory. The first three seconds are filled with curious vibes, as the speaker asks, "What do the longest-living humans on the planet know that we don’t?"

With over 700,000 views, you can bet people stuck around to find out.

4. Fear and Anger

Did you know that fear and anger lead to more "social sharing" online?

For example, imagine watching a video that makes you red with anger; because you're hot and heated, you're more likely to share it with people who may feel the same. In fact, that’s why people share stories, news, and information with others.

The same thing happens on YouTube. While being scared or angry isn’t the best feeling, viewers hit “share” to bring others into the conversation. And when people share videos outside of the app/website, it creates a fast track to real YouTube views.

For example, CNBC makes polarizing videos that stir up a lot of emotions. One of those videos is called “Why Tipping Is so Out of Control in the U.S."

So many people were disgruntled by the tipping fiasco that viewers started sharing the video on Reddit. It now has 23,600 upvotes and 8,086 comments.

And the video itself? Thanks to social sharing, it has over 2 million views.

5. Scarcity

Depending on your YouTube niche, you can use scarcity to drive more views to your channel. It’s one of the easiest strategies to pull off, especially when discussing a limited resource that everyone needs.

There are a few different types of scarcity: time-based, supply-based, and demand-based. According to one study, supply-based scarcity affects decision-making the most and garners more attention. So if you’re discussing anything that feels “out of stock” right now, you could boost your YouTube views by leading with that fact.

Some of those things are:

  • Food shortages
  • Decreased affordable housing
  • Limited supply of employees
  • At one point, the Nintendo Switch being out of stock

But time-based scarcity works too. Notice how Dorian Develops uses the scarcity of time to get 1.5 million views on his video, “It's Too Late to Get Your Life Together in Your 30s.”

6. Social Proof

As social creatures, we often look to others when making decisions for ourselves. Should someone switch careers at 30 to get a higher-paying job? Is visiting Disneyland worth the hundreds of dollars it costs? It’s easy (and safer) to get the answer through someone else’s experience.

So, how does this work on YouTube? Overall, social proof builds trust and credibility with viewers. When your title and thumbnail show that you’ve accomplished something big (with evidence to back it up), people may view you as a trusted source. From there, the clicks roll in.

For example, watch the video below, “How I Became a Millionaire at 23.” Right off the bat, the title tells us J Rich has first-hand experience with money generation. He’s not just repeating what others have said, and he proves that becoming a millionaire is possible — maybe even advisable.

Also, the thumbnail reassures us that the story comes “with proof!” And that’s one reason the video has over 500,000 views.

Emotional Content = Free YouTube Views

With these emotional triggers, you never have to worry about buying YouTube views or spamming people to go viral. Viewers will connect with your videos because they’re honest, vulnerable, and human.

But you can always learn more on YouTube. For example, there are ways to analyze your audience on a deep, psychological level — and you should know them if you want high-retention YouTube views!

Here’s how to build a persona for your audience and get more views.