YouTube has been taking on TikTok and Instagram Reels in the form of YouTube Shorts—vertical-optimized videos that are up to 60 seconds long with the option to capture multiple clips. Traditionally, YouTube videos are filmed with a camera, edited, and uploaded after recording. With Shorts, you can easily and quickly film a clip on your phone from the YouTube app and edit similarly to TikTok and Reels (e.g. add music and text, string clips together, etc.). As for what’s new? Data and remixing. Remixing, a popular engagement feature in TikTok, is being brought into the YouTube platform, with YouTube allowing for a much more extensive content library for users to select clips from. And, crucial for creators and marketers: data. YouTube will provide an overview of key Shorts data, available via mobile, for easier ways to track performance.
Alphabet, YouTube’s parent company, is heavily investing in Shorts with a $100 million fund to assist top Shorts creators and provide more incentive for adoption. It is even testing replacing the “Explore” tab with a “Shorts” tab in the navigation bar in the mobile app. Currently, Shorts receive 6.5 billion daily views, up from 3.5 billion at the end of 2020, compared to TikTok and Reels, which are in the millions. Moreover, Shorts are expanding into more and more regions.
This major overhaul aligns with the recent announcement from Instagram that it is no longer a photo-sharing app and will instead focus on being an entertainment (read: video) destination. In other words, TikTok has changed the landscape and all the social platforms are scrambling to keep up with the need to prioritize vertical video—not just the orientation, but the informal, people-focused style. Marketers should adopt a similar mindset and start exploring how their current content strategy can be adapted to make more use of vertical video.
For any brand that is already producing vertical video, strongly consider repurposing those assets and add YouTube Shorts to the publishing mix. Do note, however, that YouTube’s algorithm can penalize assets featuring the TikTok watermark. For this reason, we recommend shooting and editing content using standard software, and then natively customizing on each app. For a brand that isn’t yet doing vertical video, Instagram Reels and TikTok are likely greater priority channels to start.
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