Though it’s still the new kid on the block, YouTube Shorts is here to stay. Already, the platform has overtaken TikTok in users per month. YouTube is investing heavily in Shorts success, from the recent announcement of profit sharing to a new music licensing marketplace. The future of YouTube includes Shorts.
To ride the Shorts wave, creators need to take short-form videos as seriously as long-form ones. Developing a full-scale strategy now will set you up for later audience growth and visibility as Shorts continue to grow. The essentials of repurposing long-form content, sampling video and audio and leveraging the Shorts algorithm will give creators a place to start with their Shorts strategy.
Repurpose YouTube Videos for Shorts
Finding easy ways to repurpose existing content is a valuable strategy in many creators’ arsenals. By recycling content in smart ways, creators can plan a regular content calendar that keeps audiences engaged but allows work-life balance.
A new Shorts update gives creators tools to convert their long-form videos into snackable content. On mobile devices only (for the time being) creators can trim existing videos down to 60 seconds or less and share them as Shorts.
This tool makes Shorts an extra-appealing platform for creators with established YouTube channels. By trimming longer videos to bite-size content, YouTubers can build momentum and their following via Shorts, without needing to craft new videos from the ground up. Your content gains visibility, and you don’t need to invest as much time in editing Shorts: It’s a win-win.
Take Advantage of Sampling Tools
Learning the ins and outs of copyright and sampling on Shorts will allow you to design content more easily and even capitalize on viral trends. Copyright rules for long-form videos are straightforward, but the policy for Shorts offers some unique advantages.
As with long-form YouTube videos, you can’t use copyright-protected content in Shorts. However, because sampling in short-form videos is often classified as transformative use, sampling certain audio and video through YouTube is permitted.
The easiest way for creators to sample audio is by opening the Shorts creation tab and tapping the “add sound” button at the top of the screen. This opens a library of audio approved for use in Shorts, along with examples of videos already using each piece of audio. You can only use 15 seconds of sampled audio, but can adjust which 15 seconds you choose using the “adjust sound” button at the bottom of the editing view. You can also sample 15 seconds of audio and five seconds of video from other Shorts.
By browsing the audio library and sampling from other Shorts, you can easily source audio and video to use in your own content. Consider browsing sample videos using trending audio to design your own unique take on viral material.
Sampling is currently only available on mobile devices. Keep in mind that some videos won’t be eligible for sampling, and if the content you sample is restricted or deleted from the platform, yours will be, too.
Craft Content with the Algorithm in Mind
The Shorts algorithm weighs various factors to determine which viewers will see what content in the Shorts feed. There’s no precise science that creators should follow, but knowing what factors affect the algorithm can help you gain views.
Tap the Analytics button to view the numbers of views, likes, comments and shares that your Short receives, as well as your audience retention rate and the sources driving traffic to your videos.
YouTube has stated that the central factor in a video’s visibility is its audience retention rate—the rate at which viewers stick around to watch a video. The longer a viewer watches (or even repeats) a video, the more likely that content is to be recommended to other viewers. As a result, hooking viewers with a snappy and intriguing intro is key to growing an audience on Shorts.
Title and hashtags also factor into video suggestions: YouTube recommends that creators use #Shorts in their caption. However, YouTube advises that video tags and descriptions don’t play a major role in content visibility, and neither does the number of Shorts you’ve posted.
Creators posting Shorts and long-form content on YouTube should be aware that the algorithms function separately and don’t influence each other. For instance, a viewer who watched a Short might be recommended another Short by the same creator, but won’t necessarily be recommended the same creator’s long-form content. Likewise, high-performing Shorts may benefit your channel’s engagement overall, but won’t directly lead to greater visibility for long-form content.
Translation: Don’t invest all of your time and effort into one platform expecting that it will lead directly to better visibility via algorithms on the other. A combination of short- and long-form content will enrich your channel by growing organic engagement—not necessarily better visibility in recommended content.
Strategize Now for Later Success
On YouTube, Shorts is no longer the shallow end of the pool, but a booming platform with the potential to drive significant audience growth.
Creators have an opportunity to take Shorts’ potential seriously by familiarizing themselves with the platform’s unique policies and tools, understanding its differences from YouTube proper, and creating a future-forward Shorts strategy.
By putting time into planning now, you can set yourself up for success as Shorts takes off.