YouTube examines how creators greet their audiences

YouTubers in other countries use more gender-inclusive greetings.

May 18, 2021, 5:01 PM

"Hey, guys!" YouTube is out with a new report examining "what's up" with the most common greetings popular creators use on the platform.

According to the company's analysis of over a million YouTube videos, viewers are most likely to hear vloggers introduce videos with "hey, guys." The phrase was the most-used YouTuber greeting last year, followed by "what's up?" and "good morning." The report looked specifically at videos with more than 20,000 views and channels with at least 20,000 subscribers.

Chris Stokel-Walker is a technology journalist and author of the book "YouTubers: How YouTube Shook Up TV and Created a New Generation of Stars." He says the popularity of the phrase "hey, guys" shouldn't come as a shock.

"Yeah, it seems pretty obvious. There is that stereotype, that trope that we have of the 'YouTube voice' where you get really excited and you start a video with 'hey, guys! What's up?' and things like that," Stokel-Walker says.

But he says the dominance of "hey, guys" is notable because it singles out men -- not women or nonbinary people.

"One of the things that YouTube acknowledged in this release, and it is really important that we recognize this... is that 'hey guys' is pretty much outdated now. It is a relic of the past. Which is why it's so unusual that it's remained on YouTube as a popular thing," says Stokel-Walker.

YouTube logo seen displayed on a smartphone screen.
Nikolas Joao Kokovlis/Sipa USA via AP

In its report, YouTube doesn't go into detail about the lack of gender inclusive language in its creators' greetings, simply saying the trend "rais[es] gender inclusivity questions we won't get into here."

YouTubers in other countries fare better when it comes to using gender-inclusive greetings. French creators most often open videos with "Bonjour a tous," which translates to "good morning, all." Meanwhile, German YouTubers favor "hallo ihr," or "hello, you," and "hola hola," or "hello hello," is the most frequently used greeting for YouTubers in Mexico.

How a creator greets their audience is also influenced by the video's subject matter. While the report finds "hey, guys" is the most popular intro to videos that focus on beauty, cooking and gaming, "what's up" dominates the fitness category and "ladies and gentlemen" tops the charts for videos that focus on tech.

Hear ABC Audio's Mark Remillard report:

YouTube says "good morning" was the third most-used greeting on the platform in 2020, rising from fifth place in 2011. Stokel-Walker says the upward trend falls in line with a new genre of YouTube videos that depict creators' morning routines.

"Anyone who's spent any time on YouTube knows that there has been this trend over the last year or 18 months in particular with a very popular type of video that is morning routines -- getting ready with people."

Stokel-Walker says his big takeaway from the report is how homogeneous the content on YouTube has become, which he says is driven in large part by the growing number of creators whose livelihoods are tied to their popularity on the platform.

"What we see in this kind of -- very rare from YouTube -- big data collection and analysis is that there is a reversion to the mean. People here are being individual, yes. They're being personal, indeed. But actually what they're doing is that they're following what's popular," says Stokel-Walker, adding, "YouTube has become a real career path for people. And the stakes between being popular and being not affect your bottom line."