The Top 10 YouTube Videos of 2016

For the last few years now, YouTube published a “Rewind” video in December to sort of “summarize” the year on YouTube.

I have always loved watching the recap video. It’s filled with music, TV, movie, and homegrown YouTube celebrities sort of “re-creating” some of the most popular moments of the year.

Here it is:

I understood the video more this year than I ever have before because I’ve been doing a lot of personal research into YouTube culture. I’ve made a point to follow some of the most influential YouTubers in different genres of content in order to study them and see what works and why.

I would start my own YouTube channel to get some personal experience, but I can’t stand watching myself on video, so even if I did learn to edit video, I wouldn’t last long.

According to a combination of views, engagement, and searches, here are the 10 videos YouTube lists as its top 10 global videos of the year (excluding music videos), with some thoughts from me:

(Warning: some videos contain language and images unsuitable for children or others.)

1. Adele’s Carpool Karaoke

Adele is one of the Western world’s most popular stars of the last few years, and the only part of James Corden’s late show to gain any notoriety has been his Carpool Karaoke sketch. This video was a big hit, propelled by Adele’s newest album release and the fact that James Corden can really sing.

This video shows us: star power is unmatched on YouTube.

2. Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen

This is the goofy video of the year. Before people realized you could make a living off of real, good content on YouTube, this is what viral internet videos consisted of. Fun video. I have heard about this video for a long time, but watched it for the first time this week. I expected the video to be much longer. (This longer version is kinda more of what I expected.)

This video shows us: there is still room for the goofy, nonsensical, one-minute video on YouTube.

3. What’s Inside a Rattlesnake Rattle?

This sort of “discovery” genre is one of my very favorite on YouTube. I think videos like this show how YouTube isn’t just a place for celebrities or goofy videos like Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen, but that YouTube is also a place of discovery and education.

This video shows us: interesting, science-y, educational videos have a big space on YouTube. It’s not all juvenile stuff.

4. Nike Football Presents: The Switch

This video definitely owes its slot on this list to the global popularity of soccer (football) and the god-like popularity of Cristiano Ronaldo. Also, it’s a really funny Freaky Friday-like video.

This video shows us: Nike is really good at marketing, and that some people can tell better stories in five minutes than others can in feature-length movies.

5. Grace VanderWaal on America’s Got Talent

This girl was heralded on America’s Got Talent as “the next Taylor Swift.” I don’t like thinking of musicians as imitations of other musicians, but I was thinking the same thing before they even said it on the show. When this happened, back in June, I was curious, so I did some digging. Grace actually had a rather active YouTube channel before she was on America’s Got Talent, and it was clear she was very talented. I wouldn’t be surprised if she was sort of a “plant” to boost the show’s profile.

This video shows us: American Idol may be gone, but talent shows can still go viral.

6. Water Bottle Flip Edition

Ok, so the original water bottle flip video is hilarious. It is much better than the Dude Perfect one above. But, when you already have 14 million subscribers on YouTube, your version of a viral video phenomenon is going to get more notoriety than the original.

This video shows us: famous people can take normal people’s ideas and get more attention with them.

7. Channing Tatum & Beyonce’s “Run The World (Girls)” vs. Jenna Dewan-Tatum’s “Pony” | Lip Sync Battle

A star-studded lip sync video that features two attractive people acting like they’re at a strip club is basically YouTube gold. Also, it features Beyoncé, which means I need to include the word “slay” in this someplace.

This video shows us: sex is still popular, and people love Beyoncé.

8. Donald Trump: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

No story gripped the United States like Donald Trump and the 2016 presidential election. This video of John Oliver roasting Donald Trump in February was one of countless late-night hosts going after the president-elect long before he won the nomination and the White House. It was really interesting to go back and watch this video now.

This video shows us: the Donald Trump phenomenon gripped us throughout the entirety of 2016. This video was made in February. Crazy.


Casey Neistat is one of the famous YouTubers I have been watching a lot in the last eight months or so. This video was really interesting because who wouldn’t wonder what a $21,000 airplane seat would be like?

This video shows us: people who live extraordinary lives are really interesting to people who don’t.

10. Brothers Convince Little Sister of Zombie Apocalypse

This, along with Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen, is the epitome of a good YouTube video to me. It was one of my very favorite videos of 2016.

This video shows us: the organic YouTube video is not dead, and that this sister has the best brothers on the planet.

3 Ways Your Ministry Can Start Using More Video

PewDiePie. Jenna Marbles.The Gabbie Show.

No, those aren’t new shows on Nickelodeon. They’re three of the most popular YouTubers alive, which might sound even less interesting to you than three new Nickelodeon shows, but trust me: these people are influencing more teenagers and young adults than any TV show on air today, without a doubt.

Video dominates social media, and online content in general, today. It’s becoming more and more popular. At a conference in London just a couple of weeks ago, Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook’s head of operations in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, said that she expects Facebook “will be definitely mobile, it will be probably all video.” in just five years.

As a manager of a number of online platforms, I can affirm her thoughts on mobile. Almost two-thirds of the traffic to some of the websites I oversee is mobile today, and for websites that are attracting younger users, this ratio is likely even higher. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of video content online. When it comes to consuming online content, I’d almost always prefer reading so that I can consume the content in spaces that don’t allow me to listen to sound. But, Facebook’s algorithm is currently set up to reward video content by giving it more attention in Facebook feeds. So, in a way, Facebook gets to fulfill its own prophecy by making video more valuable content to post.

All of that to say this: if your ministry isn’t doing much with video already, you may want to consider it. As you consider reaching the next generation, you must understand that video will likely need to be increasingly important in your ministry. I’m not saying you need to stream sermons live or anything like that, but you may want to start exploring some serious opportunities on the video front. Video can also just make training and other such logistics more efficient. Here are three simple ways you can start using more video in your ministry:

1. Make volunteer training more efficient.

Every ministry needs volunteers. Whether you’re providing clean water to hard-to-reach tribes on remote portions of Africa or you’re simply ministering to your neighborhood in suburban America, your ministry likely relies on the faithful service of people who volunteer their time for the greater cause of Christ and the service of others. The problem is, volunteers need to be trained by ministry employees so that they are most effective in their work. This can be difficult.

Attempting to get everyone together on one night is near impossible with how busy everyone’s lives are today. Why not provide volunteer training via video? Your staff can record a series of short videos to use for your nursery volunteers or the team of teenagers you’re about to send to East Asian villages. The opportunity to train volunteers via video can make the on-boarding process much easier for your ministry.

2. Provide educational resources for those you serve.

Perhaps your ministry equips church planters for ministry, but you would like all of your church planters to take a course in North American missiology and hermeneutics before you send them out onto the field. Or, maybe before you send a group of college students to dig wells in Africa, you want them to watch a six-session course explaining the cultural history of the particular region they’ll be visiting.

Beyond simple volunteer training, video resources can help you equip people in your ministry for the work they’re doing on behalf of the kingdom.

3. Send regular videos to donors or others involved in your ministry.

Perhaps your non-profit organization has an email list of three thousand donors with whom you maintain regular contact, updating them on the work you’re doing in Central America and occasionally asking them to contribute to various projects. Almost every ministry or church has an email list of people they regularly contact with ministry news or other such content.

As the demographics of your ministry shift toward the Millennial and Gen Z generations, the more likely your audience will want to consume video content. So, give it to them! Send video updates to your subscribers regularly instead of text updates. If you need to ask your donors to contribute to an upcoming initiative, add the personal touch of video to the email blast.

There are endless ways you may find to use videos for your ministry or church context. I’ve only listed three. As you consider using more video in your ministry, consider checking out Uscreen, an on-demand video service provider that has worked with Christian ministries to provide the kind of video features I’ve mentioned above and more.

*This post was sponsored by Uscreen*

Open Tabs 8/27/15

Love Is a Risky Business—Tim Challies

Thoughtful post from Tim today.

Love is a risky business. In one way or another, at one time or another, we have all suffered because we have loved. We have all been shocked to learn something we didn’t know before, we have all been grieved as we have discovered another person’s hidden actions or behavior. Some of us have even asked: If I had known that before, would I have still loved her? Now that I know that, can I still love him?

God Doesn’t Need You to Go Viral—Gina Dalfonzo

So good. Viral YouTube stars, particularly Christian ones, have concerned me for some time. Not the people in themselves, just the idea of selling your life for ad revenue on YouTube. It’s a scary proposition. Good thoughts here from CT.

It’s easy to see why pregnancy announcement videos go viral: the over-the-top excitement, the celebration of love and new life, the fun, creative ways parents share their big news. It’s the ultimate feel-good experience in our social media feeds.

Christian families in particular have taken to this trend. For them, such announcements (directly or indirectly) reflect the great value we set on life and family and on thanking God for his blessings. The expectant couples who had their few minutes of fame singing a parody of “Shut Up and Dance,” doing their best Miley Cyrus impression, and revealing“Mom” and “Dad” on Diet Coke cans were all involved in ministry.

A third of millennials whip out their cellphones in public ‘for no particular reason’—Brian Fung

Fascinating new data out about cell phone etiquette. I may write some on this later. Until then, a good take from WaPo.

When it comes to the broader cultural question of cellphone etiquette, however, we’re all on the same page — and we’re all guilty. Eighty-eight percent of Americans — young, old and everyone in between — say it’s inappropriate to use your phone at a family dinner, for example.

Oddly, people seem to think it’s even less polite to use your phone during a meeting. As a despicable millennial myself, I confess I don’t really get this one; meetings are about recalling and sharing information, so to the extent that your device usage facilitates this goal, it should be fine, right? Maybe I’m just more evil than average.

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