YouTube Shorts: Competition for TikTok?

Updated: Feb 18


What are YouTube Shorts?

During the pandemic, TikTok exploded in popularity, likely because of the millions of people stuck inside. They turned to social media to keep them entertained and short-form videos became the new favorite. Then in the fall of 2020, YouTube launched a new feature called YouTube Shorts. It’s described as “a new way for you to watch, discover and create short content using nothing but your phone.”


At first glance, it is pretty obvious that YouTube Shorts are directly competing with TikTok and Instagram Reels. They are also short, eye-catching clips anyone can create, that last 60 seconds or less and are formatted vertically. The Shorts tool allows your videos to be uploaded directly to YouTube, in addition to the other long-form content you create.


How to start creating Shorts The easiest way to upload Shorts is to download the YouTube app onto your phone and create Shorts directly through their platform. If you’re using the mobile website, you probably won’t find a create button directing you to Shorts or even a Shorts tab, but it is easy to navigate within the app.

When you go to the Create button on the app and click on Shorts, it pulls up a screen that lets you record with several editing features laid out almost exactly like TikTok. After you’ve recorded footage, you can edit multiple clips together, add music, add text, adjust the speed, and more. The editing actually feels more user-friendly in Shorts than it does in TikTok, but the music selection is still limited to what YouTube provides.


Another Shorts feature similar to TikTok is the ability to use the audio from another creator’s video for your own. To do this, you can simply click on the audio if it’s available. Another way to use audio from a YouTube video, even if it's not short, is to go to the video and view it like you normally would. Then, look for the Create camera symbol directly under the video title. You can then easily add your own footage to that creator’s audio.


One downside of using other people's audio is that if that video gets deleted, the audio disappears too. You’ll get an email notification from YouTube letting you know this has occurred. Unfortunately, your video and all associated videos with that audio will be deleted from YouTube within 30 days. You have the opportunity to download it (sans audio) before it gets removed.


Best practices

The goal is to make the first few seconds eye-catching because most viewers will swipe off if the first few seconds don’t grab their attention.


Be sure your content is interesting and valuable throughout the video. And like TikTok, Shorts loop so you want your video to be interesting enough that it has playability too.

Shorts are another form of social media, so jumping on trends can also offer a big boost for your viewership. When there are trends floating around on YouTube or TikTok, try to use them if they’re relevant to your brand.


You may be asking where are Shorts stored and how do your subscribers access them? You can either post them on your main channel where you’ll have a Shorts section in your uploads or you can create an entirely new channel just for your Shorts. Whichever helps you keep your content organized and your subscribers happy.


Where are Shorts available?

Initially, Shorts were only available in India, as a way to combat the TikTok ban within the country last year. Then in March of this year, Shorts were given to American creators and are now global. They are offered in more than 100 countries worldwide including the U.K., Canada, and Latin America.


What’s the benefit of using Shorts?

For many creators who frequent other social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook, but never quite got the hang of TikTok, Shorts can be your way of using short-form video content to address your audience on a platform that you and your followers are more comfortable using. It can also be a great idea for all of your video content, both long and short to be in the same place for easy access to your subscribers who may not want to watch TikTok, but enjoy your YouTube videos.


Currently, there is a monetization program set up for YouTubers to make money off of their videos and a creator fund on TikTok that also pays its creators for all their hard work. Now YouTube Shorts is offering the YouTube Shorts Fund that will distribute $100 million to creators every month. The top creators who receive the most views will be offered some of this money as a reward for their creativity. This gives creators an even bigger incentive to hop on board.


What are the drawbacks to using Shorts?

Because Shorts is in direct competition with TikTok’s 15-60 second videos, this may not appeal to many avid TikTok users who prefer that platform over YouTube. Many people may feel that YouTube is the designated long-form video platform and that it should remain that way. It's important as a business to know where your audience is and to meet them there.


As a brand/influencer/business do I want to use it?

As mentioned above, whichever platforms your audience is frequenting you need to be there, too. If you think your audience is mostly on YouTube and enjoying Shorts, then cater to them as a demographic and reward them by giving them the content they want, where they want it. Not only that, but Shorts is still in its beginning stages. While it may not have taken off like TikTok, it has the potential to do so, and jumping on the bandwagon can help you garner a following. Also, utilizing as many social media platforms as you can to grow awareness of your brand is crucial to your success in the digital world.


Conclusion

Short-form videos have become the preference for many who enjoy bite-sized content that is fun, informational, entertaining, or educational. So, no matter what industry your brand is in, you can utilize short-form video to your advantage, providing your audience with value. Just make sure you’re on the right platforms at the right time.


 

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