August 4, 2021

Four reasons your channel should start making YouTube Shorts

‘Shorts’ are the next big thing in YouTube’s evolution. Lots of clients have been asking us whether they should start making Shorts for their channels. 
Luke Ricketts
Luke Ricketts

Business Director

As this new format is still in the testing phase, there’s no definitive answer. That said, some channels are seeing incredible results and even though it’s early days, we think this format is worth experimenting with.

Let’s have a look at what we know so far.

What are YouTube Shorts?

Shorts are YouTube’s answer to the short-form, mobile-first videos you find on TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram Reels. 

YouTube is currently beta-testing this new 15-second or less format in the US and India. The idea is to roll it out globally once it’s tested, but we don’t know when that will be. 

Once the rollout happens, any content creator will be able to use the publisher tools to make Shorts, as well as the longer-form wide-screen videos that are YouTube’s hallmark. 

This is an interesting move. Short vertical videos are popular with younger generations, but TikTok’s future in the US is still uncertain. Many TikTok creators may be heading to YouTube and using Shorts to build up an alternative audience, just in case.

Four reasons you should try them

#1 Rapid audience growth

Growing a YouTube channel is notoriously hard – but Shorts have already started to change that. It’s only been a few months since YouTube rolled out the new format, and some channels already have over a million subscribers.

This seems like a contradiction. We usually advise our partners to make a ten-minute YouTube video rather than a two-minute one, because shorter content doesn’t attract many views. But these new Shorts are less than one minute long, and they’re performing really well.

One factor is that these videos don’t appear in the normal subscriber feed. Shorts have their own dedicated section on the YouTube homepage and a new vertical feed that makes it easier to scroll through videos. 

However, this may also mean users don’t then click through the rest of your channel. They just go on to the next hilarious video. A great Short can definitely get you reach, but we’re not yet sure how well that reach translates to subscriber growth.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that some Shorts creators have had amazing growth because they started creating content early, while there was still a lack of competition.

#2 Brilliant for mobile

If the bulk of your audience is viewing on mobile devices, then Shorts are definitely worth a go. The vertical video format fits how people watch mobile content on TikTok and other sites.

One of our partners is the Caribbean Premier League (CPL T20). Around 95% of their audience watch their channel on mobile, so we encouraged them to start publishing Shorts. They’ve already seen some strong results.

#3 Strategic potential

Like TikTok, YouTube Shorts have a raw, spontaneous feel. They’re the kind of video you capture on your phone, rather than the more polished content you usually find on YouTube. This can add fresh appeal to your channel. 

#4 Single platform

The popularity of those short-form vertical videos has really exploded in the last eighteen months. If you’re already using TikTok as part of your strategy, you might want to consider YouTube Shorts as a way to consolidate all your content on a single platform. 

Things you need to know about Shorts

Shorts are still very much in the experimental phase. As a result, there are some issues that are still being worked out.

To make sure your experiments succeed, there are some considerations you need to be aware of.

Big channel, small content

We’ve noticed an odd effect. When we put out Shorts for a channel that already has a massive audience, the videos just don’t do as well as the same kind of content put out by unofficial, brand-new channels. This doesn’t make a lot of sense. Presumably, it’s all part of the development process, so we’re testing as we go since it’s such early days. That’s part of how YouTube operates. They want everyone to try different things, and then they read the data and figure out what to do next.

Not easy on the eye

There’s a basic visual issue with YouTube Shorts. Long-form content is traditionally viewed on desktop – in widescreen, like you’re watching television. Shorts are meant to be watched on mobile, to attract that younger TikTok audience. So you have both these formats on the same platform. Go to YouTube on desktop and look at #shorts, and you see all these less attractive thumbnails in vertical form. This might change, but for now, this is something you’ll have to live with.

No monetisation – yet

There’s no way to make money from Shorts. The exception is the YouTube Shorts creator fund, which is $100,000,000 set aside to reward high-performing content. We’re not sure yet how this will work, but our guess is that YouTube will reward individual creators over, say, sports rights-holders.

New channels have an advantage

This links to point 1 above. Imagine you have a channel you’ve built up over ten years. Now add a thirty-second video. Your subscribers will probably look at that and think, ‘just thirty seconds, and I’m probably going to have to sit through an ad before I watch it.’ So they don’t bother clicking. The YouTube algorithm then reads that as a piece of content that’s underperforming, and it won’t be promoted. 

If you set up a brand-new channel just for Shorts, then it won’t have existing subscribers with those expectations. For this reason, it may be worth experimenting with a new channel just for Shorts for the time being.

Conclusion: New and good for you

YouTube Shorts are a great opportunity to test out new types of content.

Over the coming months, YouTube will continue to add more creation tools and make it easier for audiences to enjoy the Shorts format, the same way they might enjoy short-form videos on other platforms. 

Shorts are likely here to stay, so our recommendation is to play around with them and as always – test, test, test. 

When we’ve done more of our own testing, we’ll be back with an update.

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