YouTube is giving us all a glimpse into how the world responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with a new batch of data showing what we’ve been watching in 2020.
The insights reveal a wide-range of trends, but an overall theme of self-care and learning new skills runs throughout.
Let’s check out some of the most revealing details from the report:
As restaurant shutdowns spread in March and remain at least partially in effect across the nation, many have had to brush up on their cooking abilities or expand their repertoire.
Add to this that the shutdowns gave many considerable extra time to try their hands at cooking things which take hours or even days to do properly, and you may start to understand why sourdough bread was a major trend on YouTube this year.
“By the end of March, one could make a legitimate case that a good portion of the world was simultaneously fixated on how to achieve a superlative sourdough starter. And the evidence for that was on YouTube.”
Similarly, users around the world increasingly searched for “restaurant-style” cooking techniques and recipes to replicate their favorite eateries from home.
The company notes that it is extremely rare for countries around the world to all be searching for similar topics at the same time. Still, once the pandemic began in earnest earlier this year, global searches for cooking tutorials have been consistently heightened no matter where you live.
This year has been uniquely turbulent, which has led many to use YouTube to assist in or to learn new techniques for coping with anxiety or stress.
Specifically, people have been watching countless videos related to food, exercise, relaxation, medication, and peaceful sleeping since March.
This includes heightened searches for a variety of topics including:
- Yoga (Daily views have doubled since March)
- Guided Meditation (Daily views increased 40% since March)
- Home Workouts (Daily views increased 4x since March)
- Nature Sounds
Keeping Close While Social Distancing
Perhaps the strongest way YouTube has helped people cope with the ongoing pandemic is by providing a way to stay connected.
“YouTube viewers used video to engage with each other directly and indirectly, sometimes in nuanced ways: even just participating in a rising coffee-making trend can make someone feel more connected to other people.”
This is most obvious when looking at the data for a few notable video trends:
- ‘With Me’ Videos (Views of #WithMe videos jumped 600% since March)
- Museum Tours (Daily views up 60%)
- Face Masks (DIY tutorials have been viewed over 400 million times)
- Dalgona coffee (A briefly viral treat connected users around the world)
Building Your Identity
Without our usual ways to express ourselves, many saw YouTube as both a creative outlet and a learning tool for further developing their identity.
“Video proved to be a unique way people could both express who they were and who they might become — say, by learning a new skill.”
This is reflected in a variety of video topics which have trended up since March, including:
- How to cut hair
- Religious services
- Video call beauty tips
YouTube as a Mirror
This data shows that people around the world have turned to a few basic needs when it comes to their content right now. From India to the U.S., YouTube says the uniformity of these trends has been “astonishing”.
When it comes to what people are watching right now, it all boils down to three basic needs:
- Experiencing a sense of connection
- Maintaining positivity
- Projecting a strong sense of self