Let’s talk about what YouTube Shorts is, how it works, and how brands like yours can leverage it.
Below, I’ll walk through the basics of YouTube Shorts and what opportunities it presents for marketers pivoting to short-form content.
When you have the YouTube app, creating a Short is one tap away.
When you land on the home screen, you’ll see the “+” icon on the lower center navigation. Once you click it, you’ll see “Create a Short” from the menu.
When you tap Create, it opens to a camera screen that allows you to:
Here’s a quick screenshot of some of the platform’s features.
YouTube has a dedicated tab for Shorts which can find to the left of the “+” icon.
Additionally, in an effort to promote YouTube Shorts, you can find a scrolling menu of recommended Shorts on the home page (see below).
When watching a Short, you can tap icons on the right bottom of the screen to “Like,” “Dislike,” or comment on the video. If you enjoy what you see, you can also tap “SUBSCRIBE” to follow the channel.
As a marketer, seeing every social media platform pivot to short-form video may feel overwhelming. So much so, you may be asking yourself, “Is YouTube Shorts worth my time?” or, “Will it provide more opportunities than Instagram Reels or TikTok?“
Because YouTube Shorts is still in its infancy, it’s too early to measure its impact. That said, there are a few noteworthy factors that differentiate it from the pack:
To state the obvious, people like to engage with different videos throughout the day. For instance, someone may scroll through TikTok during their lunch break but then play a 2-hour long podcast on YouTube when they get home.
Unlike TikTok and Snapchat, which are entirely dedicated to short-form content, YouTube is positioning itself as the go-to destination for both short- and long-form content.
In this way, Shorts could be a way for creators to reach a new audience who may become regular viewers of their longer content — giving you the best of both worlds.
For example, if someone’s in a rush and searching for a quick how-to video related to something you’ve filmed, they might find and watch your short videos on that topic — even if you published them months ago.
Rather than wondering, “Will YouTube Shorts get awareness?”, ask yourself instead, “How do I tap into YouTube’s huge audience with Shorts?”
Additionally, if you have a solid subscriber list, continue to create content that’s still relevant to them — even if it’s shorter-form.
“Your subscribers know your channel for its content and Youtube, as a platform, works best with consistency,” Chacon says.
For example, say you regularly create long-form content related to your product or industry and find that it engages your audiences. Chacon notes that you can use Shorts to create quick tutorials or step-by-step videos around those content topics.
Because TikTok has a somewhat niche user-base filled with younger consumers, some types of brands, such as B2B companies, might have a harder time growing awareness there.
While YouTube shares similar popularity with young adults, the content on its platform is so vast that it brings in people from all sorts of age groups, countries, industries, and niches.
Ultimately, there’s a video for everyone on YouTube. With Shorts, more brands will be able to engage with audiences from a much wider range of audience targets.
For example, while a B2B brand might have difficulty connecting with Gen Z consumers on TikTok, they might be able to connect with professionals looking for industry-related content on Shorts.
Similarly, if you target older generations, such as Gen X, your short-form content might get more engagement on YouTube than TikTok.
If you’re a marketer who spends time mastering content strategies on a social media app, a ban or regulation of that app could mean that the content you’ve worked so hard on might never be seen.
Looking for bite-sized news about your favorite pro athletes? ESPN has you covered by providing Shorts that showcase trending videos, highlights, and fiery commentary.
ESPN’s YouTube channel has a loyal audience with over 8.5 million followers. By utilizing Shorts, the network is leveraging another format to connect with its audience online.
For Youtube megastar Mr. Beasts, Shorts are a great way to repurpose content from longer videos.
If you’ve been in the YouTube game for a while, consider clipping segments from your existing long-form content to make minute-long Shorts. While it may take some finessing, creating Shorts can breathe new life into your past content.
Plus, YouTube’s new “Edit into a Short” feature makes it easier than ever to cut videos into bite-sized snippets.
To promote its new season, NBC’s The Voice created a Short featuring this year’s hosts.
What works well here:
Who said informative content had to be long? LYFE Marketing shows that you can create fun, engaging, and informative content in under 30 seconds.
In this Short, the brand breaks down color psychology. The talent in front of the camera simply points to the text which appears on different parts of the screen during the video.
If you don’t have a big media budget, this is an effective, low-effort method of creating content your audience will be interested in.
Shorts are a great way to repurpose content. You can take content from a blog post, live stream, or downloadable report to create a short-and-sweet video.
Digital marketing agency, WebFX, created a short to explain the costs behind social media marketing.
With the use of graphics, WebFX delivers great information in a succinct way. It’s likely the brand has an article or other form of content that dives deeper into this topic.
But for social media, snippets are the way to go. When done right, they pique your audience’s interest and lead them to your website.
Have exciting news you want to share with your audience? Take a page out of this brand’s playbook.
In this countdown-style video, Danessa Myricks Beauty used a short to promote its launch in Sephora and build some anticipation.
In the first half of the video, multiple people can be heard saying “One more day.” Then, we see the CEO sending off a package to be sent to Sephora stores.
Here’s why this works: There’s no time wasted in this Short. It’s engaging from the very start and every frame serves a purpose. Secondly, there’s a clear message – the audience leaves knowing the 5Ws (who, what, when, where, why).
Lastly, this Short creates excitement for the brand’s growth and invites the audience to join in the countdown.
Here’s another great example of how graphics and illustrations can take your Shorts to another level.
Satori Graphics is a popular YouTube channel to learn graphic design. The channel features hundreds of long-form videos on the topic and this Short serves as an extension of what’s already on the channel.
This tactic can work well for attracting new viewers to the channel, as a one-minute video is less intimidating than a 20-minute video. It’s similar to how you present a content offer at the end of a blog article.
A reader may be more likely to read a blog post first than read a 20-page report, as it’s an easier point of entry. The same concept can apply to Shorts.
While we aren’t sure how Shorts will evolve, it’s not too early to consider how you could implement it into your social media or video marketing strategy. Here are a few quick tips to keep in mind.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March of 2021 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.