In the era of short attention spans and social media bombardment, it’s no surprise that quick, entertaining video clips perform well.
After the seemingly overnight success of social media short-form video app TikTok – and all of the platforms that offer Stories, Reels or other variations of short-form, mobile-first content – YouTube has released their own micro-video product, YouTube Shorts.
What are YouTube Shorts?
Here’s how YouTube describes Shorts:
“Shorts is the spot to shoot, share, and binge short videos (think 60 seconds or less) on YouTube. It’s where you can go to start trends, try out a dance challenge, bring your hilarious ideas to life, and more.”
Much like TikTok, Shorts have seen a quick rise among viewers and creators alike since their introduction.
In fact, many audiences prefer quick videos over longer-form content and shows.
While this may have initially had older generations scratching their heads in confusion, it’s no secret that these apps and their content are wildly popular among users of all ages.
YouTube has proven repeatedly that content does not have to be long to get, and keep, people’s attention. It appears that after decades of working to remove commercial breaks from television shows and other entertainment, we’ve come full circle and are now even seeking them out.
What is the point of YouTube Shorts?
While professional video often requires time and budget for filming and production, YouTube Shorts were developed as a mobile-friendly way for creators to share short content on a whim. This encourages them to quickly film and share right in the middle of everyday life, which helps creators promote and grow their channels without the effort of a full-scale video.
If your audience is viewing content from their mobile devices, you should be creating Shorts.
Users love this content because it is quick and to the point, and because they feel that they are getting to see the creators in their real, everyday environments.
While this may not always be the case, it helps increase trust in an audience, which increases loyalty, which increases income.
Qualifying Shorts channels generate anywhere from $100 to $10,000 per month from their Shorts. Creators love this content because it’s quick and easy, and they often see substantial increases in overall channel traffic in addition to increased revenue.
Shorts are a new product, so the platform is giving them a lot of attention in an effort to ensure they are successful.
Why not jump in and grab some of that increased attention for your brand as well?
Creating YouTube Shorts
Because YouTube Shorts are designed to be quick, on-the-go content, creating the videos is relatively simple.
YouTube breaks it down into six easy steps:
1. Log into your YouTube account from the app. Tap the Create (+) button, and select Create a Short or Upload a video if you already have the footage you’d like to use.
2. Add audio. Once you’re all set up, you can select music or other YouTube audio to use as the soundtrack to your video.
3. Record the video. Creators can start and stop recording, adjust recording speed, set a timer and even merge various recorded clips together.
4. Edit your Short. Add filters, captions, and text snippets to videos. When you’re happy with your editing, tap Next, and add a title.
5. Select your audience. Add any restrictions, and share it with the world! Once you’ve filmed, edited, and gotten your video where you want it, it’s time to get it out to your audience.
6. Upload. Tap “Upload” and you’re all set!
General tips for success with Shorts
While you have 58 seconds, don’t feel like you need to use them all.
Most of the highest viewed shorts are 30 seconds or less.
If you can get your point across or tell your story more quickly, do it.
And remember to eliminate dead air or unnecessary footage.
Try to keep length relatively consistent among videos if possible.
Users like to know what to expect. That familiarity can help increase trust in your brand.
Entertain and inform
How is your content benefitting the viewer? What might make them want to come back for more?
Provide valuable information while entertaining to keep users coming back for more.
Set expectations with value
At the beginning of each video, briefly tell users who you are and what you’ll be sharing with them.
Custom thumbnails matter
Shorts can also be viewed as regular YouTube videos, and users will see video thumbnails if they happen upon your shorts in their normal feeds.
A title screen or something eye-catching can be the difference between views and new subscribers and someone scrolling right past your content.
If you do not specify a thumbnail, YouTube will pull a still from your video. Do you want to take that chance?
Incorporate catchy titles
Use your title to attract users and let them know what your video will be about.
Keep it interesting and informative.
Bonus points if you can make them laugh.
Create YouTube stories that highlight your top shorts, and ask users to subscribe and comment.
Keep it simple
Users are most often going to be on mobile. Don’t expect them to be able to see fine detail or read big blocks of text.
Consistency is key! Maintain consistency in:
- Post frequency.
- Subject matter.
- Overall tone and voice.
People want to feel like they know your brand. So make it easy for them.
How to increase view counts on YouTube Shorts
Remove the intro
For a longer video, intro music and/or screens are great. For a short, they steal valuable seconds that could be used to get a new viewer’s attention and curiosity.
Viewers are expecting vertical content, do not annoy or confuse them by changing what they’re used to seeing.
Jump right in
Just like in TikTok videos, jumping in and getting to the purpose of the video will likely increase views and engagement on Shorts.
Utilize captions and text effects
Add subtitles or text effects to increase interest and engagement.
Loop your shorts
Increase watch time by looping your shorts.
If your videos do not have a clear beginning and end, many viewers will watch your video more than once – especially if they’re not paying close attention.
You may have more than one opportunity to gain that subscriber this way.
Just remember: the longer a video is, the less likely a viewer is to watch multiple loops.
It never hurts to ask
Ask users to like and comment on shorts, and to subscribe to your channel on every video.
Start with one still frame
YouTube has a one-second delay at the beginning of each short.
Take advantage of this by replacing your intro song with a single frame still with your thumbnail image at the beginning and end of each video.
Incorporate a catchy title and image to attract more views.
Use pinned comments
Add a pinned comment to each video to encourage viewers to check out your channel or website.
People like clear direction. Again, it never hurts to ask!
Be careful with music
Timing music in Shorts can be hard.
An abrupt cutoff makes looping obvious and can be jarring to users, causing them to scroll on to the next video.
If you’re using music, make sure it flows well when looped.
What’s one thing that many Shorts with low view counts have in common?
They don’t show the user what they’re about or set an expectation for the viewer.
Let viewers know what you want them to get from your video so their expectations are set properly from the beginning.
Hashtags are important with shorts, especially the #shorts hashtag.
Include this in your description, and at the end of your title if it makes sense.
Take a shot on YouTube Shorts
Between the explosive audience growth, ease of use, mobile-friendly format, and potential for extensive reach, it makes sense to give Shorts a try.
Add in the fact that you don’t need expensive equipment or time-consuming production and it feels like a no-brainer.
However, YouTube Shorts are not a magic bullet. They may not be a single element solution for most brands. But they’re a fantastic way to increase brand and product awareness, reach and conversions.
YouTube is a massive brand, and has more staying power than newer platforms, so it is a relatively safe place to invest time and resources into creating content for their platform.
Shorts are likely going to be around for a while, so dive in and see how they can help your brand’s marketing efforts.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.
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