TikTok may have begun as just another teen craze, but in the past few years, it’s quickly become a marketing phenomenon. From Chipotle’s Guacamole Challenge to Target Finds, several major brands have cemented their Gen Z credibility by developing compelling content — and encouraging their loyal followers to act as brand advocates.
Small businesses are beginning to follow suit with niche marketing campaigns that captivate specific types of followers. With help from a growth marketing agency, it’s possible to take advantage of short-form video trends without compromising other social media efforts.
While TikTok may have popularized the art of the humorous, free-spirited video clip, other platforms are clamoring to get in on the game. Instagram Reels echoes TikTok in many ways but has yet to become a true rival for this particular format. Now, YouTube is jumping in the ring — but it’s anyone’s guess as to whether it will follow in the disappointing footsteps of Instagram Reels or become an actual contender. It’s possible, however, that YouTube’s existing structure and payment model could give it the edge that Instagram Reels lacks.
Despite the many unknowns surrounding YouTube’s short-form video plans, it is worthwhile for small businesses to get a sense for this promising new marketing opportunity. As such, we’ve provided a basic overview of the service below, along with realistic options for implementing a YouTube Shorts campaign with help from a full service marketing agency.
What Are YouTube Shorts?
YouTube Shorts is a short-form video creation tool that allows users to produce catchy videos on their mobile devices. These can be accompanied by songs from a vast music library — and adapted to include different speeds or other effects based on the creator’s unique vision. Viewers will also benefit, as YouTube Shorts includes a watch experience that allows for convenient vertical swiping.
YouTube Shorts was a long time coming. In 2021, the official YouTube blog published an announcement detailing the intention to “[expand] the beta to the US” in the near future. This will follow a noteworthy launch in India, which began in September, 2020. This effort was wildly successful, with 2021 reports from YouTube suggesting that its Shorts player was “receiving more than 3.5 billion daily views globally” just a few months after unveiling its short-form strategy.
YouTube Shorts Vs Instagram Reels Vs TikTok
At first glance, YouTube Shorts looks a lot like Instagram Reels and TikTok. All three services involve short-form videos lasting no more than 60 seconds. Users can string together multiple clips to create a cohesive viewing experience. Speed settings are also available on all three, enabling users to slow down or speed up clips as they see fit.
The greatest advantage of YouTube Shorts — as with Instagram Reels — may be the lower barrier to entry. TikTok can be confusing to the uninitiated. It takes time to master this unique platform, but time is exactly what most small businesses lack. With YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels, however, many users enjoy a greater degree of familiarity, which makes it easier to take a leap of faith and enter the short-form video space.
YouTube Shorts also provides a wonderful option for users who are reluctant to make conventional videos lasting several minutes. After all, as chief product officer Neal Mohan explains, “there’s still a huge amount of people who find the bar for creation too high.”
Differences between YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels are modest, with perhaps the most significant distinction involving how these services were released. Instagram opted to move quickly, releasing Reels en masse so that all types of users could give it a try. YouTube took on a more targeted approach with a trial run in India. This reflects how YouTube typically releases new features.
YouTube Shorts may also stand out with its unique monetization options, which, although still in development, promise to lend creators exciting opportunities for profiting from their work. Project lead Todd Sherman emphasizes the need for a “fresh look at what it means to monetize Shorts and reward creators for their content.”
Finally, the scope of the audience is worth considering. TikTok is the platform of choice for Gen Z, but some businesses are reluctant to get on board simply because they want to appeal to a wider range of consumers. The short-form style need not only involve youthful followers, however, and YouTube Shorts may quickly prove that there is a strong appetite for catchy video clips among users from several other age groups.
What’s Next for YouTube Shorts?
Monetization solutions are highly anticipated, but other changes may also be around the corner for YouTube Shorts. Todd Sherman anticipates that, in the near future, users will be able to craft short clips with help from a vast library of existing YouTube videos.
Soon, a “create” button may appear on traditional YouTube videos, allowing users to produce Shorts on the spot using audio from the video in question. Better yet: YouTube has signed licensing agreements that allow creators to take advantage of music from hundreds of popular musicians.
How Can Small Businesses Take Advantage of YouTube Shorts?
Crafting a campaign on YouTube Shorts can be surprisingly easy. As Mohan points out, this platform “lets creators and artists shoot snappy videos with nothing but their mobile phones.” How this occurs may change to some extent as new features are unveiled, but the following best practices should elevate your efforts with this exciting new feature:
- Start optimizing short videos on YouTube. It’s already possible to optimize many existing videos for a successful future with YouTube Shorts. Simply add the hashtag #shorts to any clips that are 60 seconds or less. This will increase the likelihood of such videos eventually receiving spots of honor on the Shorts platform.
- Get influencers in the loop. Influencer marketing is already a big deal with TikTok, but it could prove even more beneficial given access to YouTube’s vast range of creators, as well as its diverse audience. The right influencer can instantly amp up your campaign, so start looking now.
- If relevant, examine your past efforts on TikTok or Instagram Reels. Have you already tried to get in on the short-form video craze with one of the top players? Metrics from these platforms may influence your efforts with YouTube Shorts. Take a close look at which campaigns were most effective and which flopped, making tweaks to your approach as necessary based on the realities of the YouTube platform.
Embrace the Future with Vinci Digital
Are you interested in making the most of YouTube Shorts? Or would you like to try other opportunities for marketing such as TikTok or Instagram Reels? The team at Vinci Digital can help you explore your options and choose the best solution for your brand. As a full-service marketing agency, we can tailor our approach to meet your unique needs. Contact us today to learn more about our social media marketing services and other offerings.
PS: What do you think of the short-form video craze? Have you managed to connect with followers on TikTok? Or do you have big plans for YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels? Let us know in the comments section below.