READ MORE: Culture & Trends Report 2022 (YouTube)
A decade ago, viral videos meant everyone experienced digital culture in basically the same way, but now internet culture has become much more individualistic.
“Internet culture has become pop culture and pop culture has become more individual,” finds YouTube in its “Culture & Trends Report 2022,” which is homing in on Gen Z (18- to 24-year-olds) online consumption habits.
Per the report, 55% of Gen Zers say they watch content that no one they know is personally interested in. This leads YouTube to conclude that many younger users are opting out of the watercooler discourse and gravitating instead to content that is personally relevant to them — “even when it is less connected with the perceived zeitgeist.”
In fact, 65% of Gen Z agrees that content that’s personally relevant to them is more important than the content many other people talk about.
Extrapolating across the data YouTube has identified, three specific types of creativity are at the core of this new, personally relevant pop culture: community creativity, multi-format creativity, and responsive creativity.
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On the first, it appears that fandom is one of the most powerful forms of community — 61% of Gen Z respondents agree that they would describe themselves as a big or superfan of someone or something.
“Fan communities used to be a side effect of entertainment. Today they are central to the entertainment experience,” Kevin Allocca, global director of culture & trends at YouTube, says in the report.
How two people experience a trend may be entirely different and is one aspect of “multi-format creativity.” This phenomenon is not limited to any one medium or type of format: 59% of Gen Z say they use short form video apps to discover things before watching the longer video versions of the topic.
“We see this in the increasing interplay between short-form and long-form content on YouTube, which has led to the rise of multi-format creators, who can seamlessly move from one format to another,” Allocca comments. He references popular short-form creators like Lisa Nguyen, who has found success by also producing longer material. Vice versa, creators The Sorry Girls, who are known for their long-form videos, are also leaning towards the opposite format to reach new audiences.
In the bracket of “responsive creativity” falls content that helps younger folk relax. Some 83% of respondents say they’ve used YouTube to watch soothing content like ASMR, which is an increase from results of the same survey a year ago.
As a result, formats that play into these emotional needs — comfort creators, vibe content, and even counter intuitively horror themed content — will continue to evolve.