Imitation is the best flattery, and it's no secret that social media platforms love to imitate each other. As soon as a new, innovative app or feature is introduced, the rest of the platforms are on it like hawks 👀
One example is the rise of TikTok and the subsequent push toward short-form video that has ensued across the rest of the social media world.
Stay tuned for a blog post on the strategy and psychology behind that phenomenon. For now, we're exploring whether YouTube Shorts have been successful for creators and companies, in order to make the ultimate ruling: bop or flop.
Bop (and Flop?): The algorithm
Let's just dive right into the good stuff: how well does the Shorts algorithm work? Shorts were only introduced in the U.S. in 2021, so there isn't much concrete data yet on their performance, but there are some sources we can take a look at.
According to a July 2022 video from YouTube's Creator Insider channel, the platform says they researched differences in performance between channels that only made long-form content and channels that made both long-form content and Shorts. They found that channels that made both were actually growing faster.
The demand for short-form video has been on the rise over the last three years, but is it only creating surface-level success for creators and brands?
A Reddit thread from March of 2022 asks users, What has been your experience with YouTube Shorts? Commenters say they occasionally get quick viral views on their Shorts, but it doesn't lead to a reliable increase in subscribers. A few users say they've had great experiences with creating Shorts, but most are dissatisfied.
And actually, looking back to the Creator Insider video, there are also many comments from creators saying that Shorts have actually hurt their channels. Here's one from Cinecom.net, a channel with over 2.4 million subscribers.
Flop: 60-second limit
With the Instagram Reels limit of 90 seconds and the TikTok limit of 10 minutes, only allowing 60-second videos on Shorts can be a bit of a drawback. It's still short-form content that will keep people engaged, but 60 seconds goes fast when you're creating the video. It's very possible that YouTube will increase the length in the near future, but until then, creators will have to remain a little limited with time.
YouTube is giving 45% of ad revenue right back to creators.
It was just recently announced that starting early next year, Shorts will be a part of the YouTube Partner Program, meaning those who qualify will get a chunk of the ad revenue from Shorts.
In order to qualify, creators must have at least 1,000 subscribers and either 10 million Shorts views in the last 90 days or 4,000 total long-form watch hours. For creators who don't qualify, YouTube is creating tipping and paid membership features.
Flop: Changes to the interface
Lastly, adding Shorts to the YouTube app has significantly changed the interface and user experience. The Shorts tab has now taken the place of the Explore tab, which allowed users to discover recommended videos and see the current trending videos. The Explore page still exists, but it isn't as easy to find.
A side note also related to interface: the Shorts creator seems to have many of the same features and abilities as TikTok and Reels, including the option to add trending sounds and songs to your video. We'll call that a mini bop.
At the end of the day, some users might seem disillusioned by their Shorts experiences, but if you're a creator or brand already creating consistently on YouTube, why not experiment? There are always engagements and impressions to be gained from video content, and short-form video is undoubtedly here to stay.
If you're having trouble navigating the world of short video, reach out to us below to learn how we can work together! And let us know in the comments: what do you think of YouTube Shorts?