In September 2020, YouTube introduced “Shorts,” which for some it’s like a TikTok knock-off, but is it really?. YouTube “Shorts” resemble TikTok videos because of their vertical format, and their short duration, hence the name. With a maximum of 60-second duration, “Shorts” have become so popular in just a short amount of time (no pun intended) that it can be an uber-powerful tool for creators, marketers, and brands. YouTube Shorts can gain way more views in a shorter time span than regular videos. You can see that as they are presented to you on YouTube’s main screen (you just only have to scroll down a bit on your YouTube app).
YouTube Shorts vs. TikTok
Both YouTube Shorts and TikTok videos have the capability of going viral. Suppose you look at popular videos from both platforms (YouTube Shorts, of course, not YouTube’s main video section). In that case, you’ll notice that view count is relatively high, sometimes in millions, a few days, or even hours from the time a creator uploaded them. This is great for discovering small channels, small creators, brands, and new videos on YouTube.
Both TikTok’s and YouTube Shorts’ formats are vertical videos of short duration, with a 60-second top limit when made on the app (more on this later).
TikTok is already a well-known platform exclusively developed for vertical and short format videos, and has been around for a few years. However, YouTube Shorts is still in its Beta phase. As a result, things may change drastically in the foreseeable future on both platforms, for the better.
Although the length of videos on both YouTube Shorts and TikTok is limited to 60 seconds, TikTok is now rolling out the ability to upload longer videos of up to 3 minutes long. This could be a game-changer for TikTok.
TikTok’s platform is designed for short, easy-to-consume videos that can achieve viral status without even breaking a sweat. Users can easily share TikTok videos, and creators don’t need to be experts at video production.
YouTube, on the other hand, takes a different approach. It is mainly a platform for longer videos, usually with some production effort behind them, and the way we consume YouTube videos is quite different from the way we consume TikToks. Those are best suited for entertainment and fun, while YouTube has plenty of serious political and educational content.
The YouTube Shorts section (for the time being, at least) is integrated into the main YouTube app, unlike TikTok, a dedicated app.
How YouTube Shorts Can Help Your Brand
Even though YouTube Shorts are a new player in the video-sharing industry, they are owned by Google, the world’s largest search engine, so they probably know a thing or two about how the internet works in 2021 and beyond.
YouTube shorts can help your brand by allowing people to discover your already uploaded videos (and brand, thereof). Regardless of your brand’s niche and whether it is about physical products or services, there is always a spot for you on YouTube Shorts.
Shorts can also leverage collaborations with micro-influencers, as short videos are more likely to achieve viral status much faster than regular YouTube videos. You could work with a smaller micro-influencer with Shorts, say with a creator who has somewhere between 2000 to 5000 subscribers. With Shorts, their videos have more chances of being viewed by a broader audience due to the nature of this new feature (YouTube is pushing creators of Shorts to gain traction). Working with smaller creators will probably cost you less on your marketing efforts. With high viral probabilities, your ROI has the potential of being much higher than with a larger micro-influencer.
Let’s say you are a home decor brand, and you collaborate with a channel that focuses on home renovations. The channel owner can make short videos in which he or she does some kind of renovation job in their home, for instance, some before and after shots or clips, showcasing one of your products while they’re at it.
Depending on the type of deal you and your micro-influencer have made, they can directly mention your brand and recommend it in the video. They can suggest viewers check your channel for more information about your product or send viewers to your website, increasing their chances of buying from you. Creators can also mention your brand and tell their audience to subscribe and share if they liked the video, generating more exposure to your brand.
Currently, YouTube heavily promotes Shorts, resulting in many more views and people spending more time on the platform than only watching long videos or swapping to other apps like Facebook, TikTok, or Instagram.
Don’t forget that YouTube’s first-ever video, “Me at the zoo,” was only 18 seconds long. The platform has evolved tremendously, of course. Recently, they’ve realized how powerful short videos are, especially for our current population, who aren’t especially keen on spending too much time watching a video. That’s why Shorts are one of the hottest YouTube trends in 2021.
If your brand already has a YouTube channel, this is the best time to take advantage of YouTube Shorts. Small channels that have started using Shorts have seen a tremendous increase in viewerships and subscribers to their channel. For example, in this video, vidIQ shares how he got 750K views in 58 Seconds from YouTube Shorts.
You know what that means: more exposure to your brand. In YouTube Analytics, views of Shorts do not get filtered out of a channel’s total view count, hence boosting your overall channel metrics (except view time, which is a different story).
Short videos are relatively easy to put together because they don’t require lengthy pre-production or post-production budgets. If you have someone fun in your team, who’s not afraid of picking up their phone camera, get them to shoot a series of YouTube “behind the scenes” or “how-to” Short videos.
How To Quickly Put Together a YouTube Shorts Video
Define what you want to talk about and what type of content you want to create: entertaining, educational, how-to guide, a review, or something else.
Create a short script. Remember, you only have a maximum of 60 seconds. We’d suggest making your video between 30 and 50 seconds long.
Record your subject. Don’t forget you must upload the video in vertical format (9:16 aspect ratio). You can also upload in a square format (1:1 aspect ratio), but vertical is more popular.
You can use a video editor to add some text or banner that stays throughout your entire short video. It is important to add text because you cannot upload thumbnails with short videos. Thumbnails help a lot with the click-through rate. That’s not an option here. YouTube selects a random frame from your short video and displays it to the audience.
To circumvent that limitation, add a banner with meaningful and engaging text, so any frame YouTube picks from your video will display your banner, catching the viewer’s eye and increasing your chances of them watching your YouTube short video. You can use simple tools like Canva to create banners.
How To Upload a YouTube Shorts Video
If you are in India, you can use YouTube’s short-form video creation tools coming to the US in the next few weeks. Alternatively, you can upload a Shorts video to YouTube Shorts either from your phone app or your desktop using creator studio. The process is quite the same as with regular videos. If you have already uploaded videos to your YouTube channel before, this process will be a breeze for you.
For your video to be featured in the Shorts, you must add #Shorts in the title or description. Make sure your title is meaningful and captivating. When you don’t have a thumbnail option, a well-written title is your only shot at getting that click.
Nobody In My Team Makes Videos
If this is your case, that is OK. You can either reach out to YouTube creators or hire a digital marketing agency to do all that for you. YouTubers with smaller following (up to 20K) are usually open to collaborations and creating quality content for brands. 1-2 mins video would cost you $150-200. You can repurpose it for your branded Shorts and ads.
Regardless of the route you take, don’t miss out on the tremendous opportunity YouTube Shorts provide you and your brand within 2021 and beyond. Early adopters usually benefit the most!