YouTube Shorts are short, vertical videos created using a smartphone and uploaded directly to YouTube from the YouTube app, like Stories.
Since launching in 2005, YouTube has been home to countless video trends and many forms of entertainment. Who remembers Charlie Bit My Finger, David After Dentist, and the still very relevant Leave Britney Alone?
Now, the team behind one of the most visited websites in the world has hopped on the short-form video bandwagon by creating YouTube Shorts. These 15-60 second videos are designed to entertain audiences and help brands and creators drive engagement.
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What are YouTube Shorts?
YouTube Shorts are short-form, vertical video content created using a smartphone and uploaded directly to YouTube from the YouTube app.
Using YouTube’s built-in creation tools, you can capture, edit, add music from major labels (including Sony, Universal, and Warner), add animated text, control the speed of your footage, and edit together multiple 15-second video clips to create your Shorts.
Viewers of your Shorts can share, comment, like, dislike, or subscribe to your channel while viewing the video. The content doesn’t disappear and remains on YouTube, unlike other short-form video apps like Instagram Stories and Snapchat.
Why try YouTube Shorts?
Initially launched in India on Sept 14th, 2020, and rolled out across the U.S. on March 18th, 2021, YouTube Shorts quickly surpassed 6.5 billion daily views globally. Shorts was finally released in beta-mode to 100 countries worldwide on July 12th, 2021.
YouTube’s VP of Product Management described the video format as “a new short-form video experience for creators and artists who want to shoot short, catchy videos using nothing but their mobile phones,” and goes on to say, “Shorts is a new way to express yourself in 15 seconds or less”.
YouTube’s attempt at short-form video content isn’t a far cry from other ephemeral videos on social media, including TikTok, Instagram Reels, Instagram Stories, Snapchat Spotlight, and even Twitter Fleets and LinkedIn Stories (RIP).
And short-form video is no stranger to YouTube. The channel’s first ever upload was only 18 seconds long.
But, what sets YouTube Shorts apart is its ability to convert viewers into subscribers for your channel, a must-do for brands and creators.
When you’re setting up YouTube Shorts, you can create an entirely separate channel for your Shorts or place the Shorts widget in your main channel. But we recommend keeping your Shorts on your main channel. This is because aligning your main feed YouTube content and your Shorts content in one place will make it easier for your audience to stay engaged with your videos and give them more opportunity to hop from Shorts to YouTube videos and ultimately subscribe to your channel
Viewers can find your Shorts by tapping Shorts at the bottom of the YouTube app.
Alternatively, audiences can access Shorts:
- On the YouTube homepage
- On your channel page
- Via notifications
How long are YouTube Shorts?
YouTube Shorts are vertical videos that are 60 seconds or less in length. Shorts can be a 60-second continuous video or several 15-second videos combined. However, if your Short uses music from the YouTube catalog, your Short will be limited to 15-seconds only.
Pro tip: YouTube will automatically categorize any YouTube content that’s 60 seconds or less as a Short.
How to make a YouTube Short
Step 1: Download the YouTube app
You can only make Shorts natively in the YouTube app. This is a smart play from YouTube to keep everything in one handy place, rather than asking people to download and sign up to another app to create Shorts.
To gain access to the YouTube app, do the following:
- Login to your app store of choice (iOS App Store or Google Play) and search for YouTube
- Download the official YouTube app
- Login using your Google login or a separate YouTube login
Step 2: Start creating your YouTube Short
1. Tap (+) icon on the button of the app homepage, then tap Create a Short
2. To record a 15-second video clip, hold the red record button or tap it to start recording and then again to stop
3. If you want to record a full 60-second video, tap the number 15 above the record button to change the video length to 60-seconds
4.To add special effects and elements to your video, browse the toolbar on the right of the screen
a. Tap the rotating arrows to switch the camera view
b. Speed up or slow down your Short by tapping the 1x button
c. Tap the clock icon to set a countdown timer for creating hands-free videos
d. Add filters to your Short by tapping the three circles icon
e. Add retouching to your video by tapping the magic wand
f. Tap the person icon to switch up your background and add a green screen or photo from your smartphone’s library
g. Tap the ghost icon to help align your transitions between video clips
5. To add sound to your Short, tap the Add sound icon at the top of the screen. Note that you can only add an audio track to your Short before you start recording or afterward in the editing process
6. Made a mistake? Tap the reverse arrow next to the record button to undo
Step 3: Edit and publish your Short
- Once you’ve finished recording, tap the checkmark to save your Short
- Next, finalize your Short by adding a music track, text, and filters
- If you want to dive deeper into editing, tap the timeline icon to change when text appears on the video timeline
- Once you’re finished editing, tap Next in the top right-hand corner
- Add the details of your Short and select whether you want to video to be public, unlisted, or private
- Select whether your video is appropriate for kids or needs an age restriction
- Tap Upload Short to publish your video
How to monetize YouTube Shorts
As a business owner or creator, you might be thinking, “how can I monetize YouTube Shorts?”. After all, using YouTube to bring in extra revenue is standard for many creators and brands.
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Let’s start with the bad news. Because YouTube Shorts are shorter than standard YouTube video content, you can’t run an ad on them, which makes YouTube Shorts tricky to monetize.
The good news is that to counter Shorts being ad-free, YouTube launched the YouTube Shorts Fund, a $100 million endowment that anyone is eligible to participate in by creating unique Shorts that “delight the YouTube community.” YouTube will reward creators based on “whose Shorts received the most engagement and views to reward them for their contributions.”
YouTube Shorts: best practices
Get straight to it
Make the first few seconds of your video exciting and grab the audience’s attention right off the bat.
Keep it snappy
Shorts aren’t a full-blown video and work best if the content isn’t just one continuous sequence. Instead, play around with different cuts and edits to help keep your viewers engaged.
Think about replays
Shorts are played on a loop, so consider how your content will come across if it’s continually repeated.
Don’t just create for the sake of creating. Instead, give value to your audience through your Short and align the content with a goal, e.g., increase engagement by 10% or acquire 1,000 more subscribers.
What’s your hook?
What will make a viewer come back for more? Think about how you can hook in your audience to view your Shorts repeatedly.
Get the vibe right
YouTube Shorts isn’t the place for shortened versions of your long videos. Much like Instagram Reels and TikTok, Shorts is the place to give your audience short, snappy, and easily digestible content, for example, viral trends or behind-the-scenes looks.
7 ways to use YouTube Shorts
Ideal for reaching consumers with shorter attention spans, YouTube Shorts is the perfect solution to drive more engagement for your channel, grow your subscribers, and showcase your brand’s authentic side.
Just under 40% of businesses are already using short-form video to promote their product or service. If you wait much longer, you may fall behind. So, get creating!
Promote your regular channel
Use YouTube Shorts to promote and grow your regular channel. Every time you post a Short, it’s an opportunity for your content to get a view, and that view could turn into a channel subscriber or someone who engages with your main channel content.
The subscriber box is always visible when you post a Short, making it easy to subscribe if people like what they see.
Shorts also help you to navigate YouTube’s algorithm because your channel will see an increase in engagement, one of the key ranking factors for how YouTube prioritizes content. This should increase the number of people who are exposed to your channel.
Showcase less polished video
Not every video you create for YouTube needs to be pre-planned and polished to perfection. Behind the scenes (BTS) video footage will give your audience a sneak peek into the background of your channel, brand, and products or services.
Behind the scenes footage can take on many forms. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Company events
- Product launches
- Product updates or coming soon
- Workplace updates, e.g., a renovation
BTS videos help establish your brand as authentic (a huge plus to tapping into the authenticity-driven Gen-Z) and help deepen consumer trust. After all, people buy from people, and showcasing your brand’s human side with BTS is a great way to establish a strong relationship with your potential customers, subscribers, and viewers.
Popular US singing show The Voice used Shorts to show exclusive BTS footage.
Tease your audience
Think of Shorts as the amuse-bouche of video marketing and use the format to whet the appetite of potential leads. For example, you could post a 30-second Short about an upcoming product release, along with a CTA to drive viewers to a longer YouTube video that goes into more detail and directs your viewers to a landing page to sign up for early access.
Dental Digest is one of the most successful Shorts creators. Here, they’ve created a short teaser review of a famous toothbrush line. The Short works because it’s snappy, engaging, relevant, appeals to a younger audience, and positions Dental Digest as an authority in its field.
Create engagement on the fly
YouTube Shorts allows your audience to engage with your brand on the fly rather than commit the time to watch a full-length video. And because 5% of viewers stop watching videos after the one-minute mark, snappy, short-form content ensures that your audience watches until the end, receives all of your messaging, and engages with your CTA.
Jump on trends
In 2021, the world-famous K-pop group BTS (not to be confused with the acronym for behind-the-scenes!) partnered with YouTube to announce the Permission to Dance Challenge and invited audiences across the world to record and share a 15-second version of their recent hit song.
YouTube’s global head of music, Lyor Cohen, said: “We are humbled to be partnering with them [BTS] on the ‘Permission to Dance’ challenge on YouTube Shorts, helping to spread happiness and build lasting connections amongst their fans on YouTube across the globe.”
Shorts provides brands and creators with an opportunity to jump on a trend, e.g., a dance move or challenge that’s doing the rounds on social media. We’re not saying that you need to commit to every dance challenge that does the rounds on social media, but keeping on top of video trends will position your brand as current and up-to-date and improve your chances of going viral.
Level up your user-generated content
YouTube Shorts are a straightforward format to ask for user-generated content (UGC) because Shorts can be created by anyone, anywhere, with access to a smartphone. So, for example, you could send your new product to a group of brand loyalists and ask them to create YouTube Shorts that showcases the unboxing experience to help expand your brand reach.
Creating YouTube Shorts is a cost-effective video marketing strategy. The format can be created by anyone with a smartphone and eliminates hiring a creative agency or video marketing company to create your video content.
YouTube Shorts should be an essential part of your video social strategy, not become your entire social strategy. Work with your social and content teams to uncover opportunities to incorporate Shorts into campaigns, and always have a purpose for your video. For example, to retain and delight current customers, push your audience to subscribe to your channel and generate more YouTube engagement.
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