8 surprising social video trends

Explore the latest surprising trends in social video, from YouTube's creator explosion to TikTok's optimal video lengths.

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Halloween is traditionally the perfect season to anticipate unexpected shocks.

But eight surprising social video trends should astound even the most unflappable digital marketers. 

Firefly Seven surprising social video trends with a Halloween theme

1. The number of creators on YouTube is exploding

YouTube.com is the second most visited website in the U.S. and worldwide, behind only Google.com, per Similarweb and Semrush’s data.

So, if you were a content creator planning to go trick-or-treating, you’d tell all your friends, “They give out more candy on YouTube than any other social video platform.”

This favorable word-of-mouth tells a surprisingly scary story, too.

  • Last year, 15.4 million accounts uploaded 696 million videos to YouTube from Oct. 16, 2021, to Oct. 15, 2022. These videos got a total of 23.2 trillion views and 742 billion engagements.
  • This year, 25.4 million accounts uploaded 774 million videos to YouTube from Oct. 16, 2022, to Oct. 15, 2023. These videos got a total of 23.9 trillion views and 747 billion engagements.

So, the number of creators on YouTube has exploded and the number of videos is up, too! But the total number of views and engagements has remained relatively flat year over year.

This means 64.9% more creators are now competing for roughly the same number of views and engagements. Or as savvy trick-or-treaters going door-to-door on Halloween might yell at their friends, “We gotta move faster before they run out of candy.”

Hey, this is a real problem. That’s why YouTube provides tips for dealing with creator burnout.

But this has an impact on digital marketers, too. It means we must work harder – or smarter – to capture our audience’s attention. 

For example, you might want to check out YouTube’s new Spotlight Moments, an AI-driven packaging technology that automatically identifies the most popular, relevant videos, making it even easier for us to own the moment around key events when viewers are most engaged.

Dig deeper: 5 new YouTube features coming soon to help creators

2. How long should a social video be?

“Short-form content empowers creators to win views and reach new audiences, but new data shows that many audiences prefer a slightly longer format,” according to Tubular’s report, H2 2023 Social Video Trends.

In 2022, TikTok increased its video length capabilities to compete with longer-form video platforms. Tubular data found that 61-180-second videos earn the highest growth rates per the number of uploads on TikTok, making it the optimal video length to drive growth.

Although videos 1-60 seconds long still win the most views, the report said, “growth rates for this time frame are in decline.” Meanwhile, videos 61-180 seconds long and 181-600 seconds long “show a positive growth in views.”

Dig deeper: Video content guide: Why you should start creating videos now (plus examples)

3. Facebook no longer needs to whistle past the graveyard

Facebook use among teens had dropped from 71% in 2014-15 to 32% in 2022, according to a Pew Research Center survey.


  • 95% of American teenagers ages 13 to 17 used YouTube.
  • 67% used TikTok.
  • 62% used Instagram.
  • 59% used Snapchat. 

And in July 2022, Facebook’s parent, Meta, reported its first-ever year-over-year decline in ad revenue.

But Facebook restructured its main feed into a “discovery engine” for video content, and today, it appears that the social video platform no longer needs to whistle past the graveyard.

Facebook.com is currently the third most visited website in the U.S. and worldwide, per Similarweb and Semrush.

Tubular Labs data also found that 5.3 million accounts uploaded 400 million videos to Facebook from Oct. 16, 2022, to Oct. 15, 2023. These videos got a total of 11.8 trillion views and 551 billion engagements.

By comparison, 4.5 million accounts uploaded 311 million videos to Facebook from Oct. 16, 2021, to Oct. 15, 2022. These videos got a total of 12.4 trillion views and 473 billion engagements.

So, 17.8% more accounts are now publishing 28.6% videos on Facebook. Although views are down 4.8%, engagements are up 16.5% year over year.

Digital marketers can expect more developments from Facebook:

“This is just the beginning. We’ll continue developing more tools for creators so they can express themselves, build an audience and earn money, along with the discovery and personalization features that give you more control over your experience.”

– “Video on Facebook Keeps Getting Better,” July 17, 2023  

4. What music are you using in your latest social video?

Many moons ago, music on social videos was limited to “music videos.” 

Then, in 2014, “trackvertising” became a trend. That’s when a brand and musical artist co-release a video, both a musical track and an ad. 

For example, Activia, a brand of yogurt owned by Groupe Danone, collaborated with Shakira, a Colombian singer and songwriter, to create “Shakira – La La La (Brazil 2014) ft. Carlinhos Brown.”

Today, music is as closely associated with social videos as spooky sounds are with Halloween. 

Tubular makes the eerie claim, “That’s right – music and social video are synonymous.”

So, creators and brands should begin with music when brainstorming their content strategy. To help with that process, Tubular examined the top 50 TikTok sound trends in the first half of 2023.

At the top of their list were Hip-Hop, Rap, and R&B, the most popular music genres both by number of sounds 13 of 50) and total views (7.8 billion). 

And part of this trend was older songs, which were resurfacing. As Tubular noted, “The sweet spot of songs making a resurgence are songs released in 2010-2014.”

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As you know, bobbing for apples involves catching an apple in a tub filled with water – with your teeth. Why? Because using your hands would be cheating.

Well, Instagram stopped providing Tubular with access to its data for views in November 2020. However, it continued to provide access to the number of accounts using the social video platform, videos they published, and engagements they got. 

Why? I don’t know, it’s a mystery.

Nevertheless, that’s what makes catching social video trends on Instagram like bobbing for apples.

Still, 4.3 million accounts uploaded 278 million videos to Instagram from Oct. 16, 2021, to Oct. 15, 2022. These videos got a total of 907 billion engagements.

And 4.1 million accounts uploaded 297 million videos to Instagram from Oct. 16, 2022, to Oct. 15, 2023. These videos got 1.2 trillion engagements (with a “t”).

So, the social video platform has lost 4.7% of its creators in the past year, but the remaining ones have created 6.8% more videos, which have received 32.3% more engagements.

Now, that’s a trend you can sink your teeth into.

6. On TikTok, ChatGPT isn’t considered a scary Halloween costume  

ChatGPT was launched on Nov. 30, 2022 by OpenAI. So, this is the first year that the chatbot could be considered by anyone interested in wearing a scary Halloween costume.

But Tubular data for the first half of 2023 indicates that TikTok viewers are more interested in finding hacks and tips about using ChatGPT and integrating generative AI technology into their daily lives. 

If you look at the percentage of views on this topic on TikTok, then you’ll be stunned to see:

  • 30% come from the Business category.
  • 24% come from School.
  • 19% come from Memes & Comedy.
  • 17% come from Software Engineering.
  • 7% come from Marketing.
  • 4% come from Art.

This lack of fear about chatbots is reflected in the views of education hashtags about ChatGPT on TikTok:

  • #school 140.5 million.
  • #college 130.3 million.
  • #university 92.7 million.
  • #essay 84.1 million.
  • #student 73.0 million.
  • #highschool 62.3 million.

So, it appears that TikTok viewers have taken the advice of Nvidia founder and CEO Jensen Huang, who said in a commencement address back in May: 

“While some worry that AI may take their jobs, someone who’s expert with AI will.”

7. Accounts and videos on X, formerly Twitter, are imploding

Meanwhile, in another part of the social video landscape, everyone’s watching a horror movie.

Elon Musk completed his acquisition of Twitter on Oct. 27, 2022. So, theoretically, we could now use Tubular Labs data to compare the performance of social videos on X, formerly Twitter, over the last 365 days to the same period before he purchased the platform.

But X appears to have stopped providing Tubular Labs with access to its data on July 1, 2023. 

Nevertheless, 5.6 million accounts uploaded 145 million videos to Twitter from Oct. 27, 2021, to June 30, 2022 – before Musk bought the platform. These videos got a total of 602 billion views and 27.5 billion engagements.

In contrast, 4 million accounts uploaded 122 million videos to Twitter from Oct. 27, 2021, to June 30, 2022 – after Musk bought the platform. These videos got a total of 751 billion views and 35.6 billion engagements.

So, the number of accounts and videos was imploding on X while the number of views and engagements was growing on the platform.

Nevertheless, you might want to use Follower Audit, Twitter Audit, or Circleboom to identify bot and fake followers of any public account. 

Mashable and Travis Brown took a close look at Musk’s more than 150 million followers on X, formerly Twitter, on Aug. 18, 2023.

They found that around 42% of Musk’s followers – over 65.3 million users – had zero followers. Moreover, over 72% of Musk’s followers had less than 10 followers on their accounts.

So, the social platform increasingly looks like a haunted house that’s perceived to be inhabited by disembodied spirits of the deceased. This means digital marketers should start looking for an exit – if they haven’t left already.

Now, many industry observers saw this coming from a mile away. So, maybe the implosion of X, formerly Twitter, isn’t a surprising trend.

And I don’t want you to feel like I’m handing out the equivalent of Candy Corn, a polarizing Halloween candy, or Circus Peanuts, ranked as the worst Halloween candy in 2022 and 2023.

So, let me share one more surprising social video trend.

8. Reach more eyeballs by posting news videos late at night

Most creators in the U.S. news media post their videos during the day. But Tubular data for the first half of 2023 was shocked to find that news-related videos posted from 10 p.m. to midnight Eastern won the most views within the first 24 hours.

So, if the U.S. news media wants to reach more eyeballs, they need to start posting stories when their viewers have the time and interest to watch them – after they’ve gotten home from work, had dinner, and put the kids to bed.

The U.S. news media should also re-evaluate their assignment editors. 

Among all the U.S. news media on TikTok in the first half of 2023, videos about the missing Titanic submersible received more views than all the presidential content combined. 

On the other hand, news cycles are fleeting. However, evergreen content can live forever on social video platforms.

For example, Inside Edition demonstrated stronger staying power than top news competitors by posting content that could outlive the 24-hour news cycle.

And the publisher received nearly three times more views on YouTube videos originally posted 1 to 2 years prior than all the other creators combined.

Dig deeper: Top video marketing trends for 2023 and beyond

Attracting audience attention with social videos

As the social video landscape continues to transform, digital marketers and creators must remain vigilant, seizing opportunities and staying ahead of the curve to reach and engage their target audiences effectively.

Contributing authors are invited to create content for Search Engine Land and are chosen for their expertise and contribution to the search community. Our contributors work under the oversight of the editorial staff and contributions are checked for quality and relevance to our readers. The opinions they express are their own.

About the author

Greg Jarboe
Greg Jarboe is the president and co-founder of SEO-PR, which has generated award-winning results for Southwest Airlines, the Search Engine Strategies (SES) Conference & Expo series, and Rutgers University. He is the author of YouTube and Video Marketing and a co-author of Digital Marketing Fundamentals. In addition, he is one of the 25 successful gurus profiled in Michael Miller’s book, Online Marketing Heroes. Since 2003, Jarboe has written more than 1,600 articles for Search Engine Watch, Tubular Insights, Search Engine Journal, and other online publications. Over that time, he has also spoken at more than 80 industry conferences. In addition, Jarboe is an instructor at the New Media Academy in the UAE and for Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, on Coursera.

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