TikTok alone is expected to reach 1.8 billion users by the end of this year. Now, we’re also seeing the rapid proliferation of short-form content on other platforms. For example, YouTube videos under a minute long saw year-over-year viewership rise by 135% in 2022. As the popularity of short-form video booms, YouTube creators are slowly branching out on TikTok and Instagram Reels to grow their followings.
These platform crossovers are a no brainer for many creators, since they maximize exposure. Beauty guru Atarah Mayhew and food critic Matt Peterson are among the many short-form video creators who have risen to fame by reposting their content on different channels. But for old-school YouTube creators that love long-form content, the transition to short-form clips can be tricky.
To effectively repurpose your long-form videos for TikTok or Reels, make sure you tailor them to your new audience. And, most importantly, adopt a more concise, compelling approach to storytelling. To captivate your viewers, you need to stand out with an eye-catching hook.
Get to Know Your Community
When you make the move from YouTube to TikTok or Reels, it may be tough to navigate unfamiliar tech specs, recommendation algorithms and user interfaces. To ensure that your content resonates on a short-form video platform, you need to get a good idea of what’s trending among your target audience and how these trends might differ from what you’ve been posting on YouTube.
Health and wellness is a prime example. Fitness videos on YouTube are often geared toward beginners, providing more detailed, comprehensive explanations of workout routines, meal prep recipes and weight lifting tips. On TikTok or Reels, creators may indirectly offer the same kind of advice—but it’s often under the assumption that their viewers already know the basics.
As a result, short-form content on these platforms is less about teaching the fundamentals and more about eliciting immediate viewer reactions. Typical content involves snappy comedic videos, physical challenges or demonstrations of impressive routines.
Natacha Oceané, a health and wellness creator with more than 1.5 million followers on YouTube, makes it a point to tailor her content for each platform. Her long-form videos aim to foster a stronger, more meaningful connection with her subscribers by detailing her own personal fitness journey, explaining common weight loss mistakes and offering advice to young women on how to better navigate body image issues.
Natacha’s content on TikTok, however, is more simple and spontaneous. One of her recent uploads, captioned “Living that balanced lifestyle,” is a 13-second video of her reading a book while balancing her body on top of a giant kettlebell.
As you do preliminary research, keep in mind that user attention spans are much shorter on TikTok and Instagram. Although TikTok recently announced it would extend its maximum video length to 10 minutes, most users actually prefer to watch videos that are only a few seconds long. Nearly 50% of TikTok users said watching videos longer than a minute is stressful, and more than one-third said they watch videos online at double the original speed.
While repurposing YouTube videos is an effective way to generate views and expand your follower base on other platforms, do your research. Depending on who your target audience is, the content that viewers appreciate on YouTube can be very different from the videos that gain traction on TikTok or Reels.
Apply a Micro-Storytelling Strategy
With short-form videos, there’s no time to waste. An immediately captivating hook is necessary. Whether it’s an impressive dance move, an unexpected twist to a story or an outlandish joke, it’s important to find ways to keep your audience engaged. But identifying standout moments in your YouTube videos and pulling them out to create short-form content requires advanced editing skills, as well as a solid understanding of TikTok humor and the platform’s broader content landscape.
YouTubers with podcasts often retool their episodes for TikTok or Reels in order to drive traffic to their original channels. Creators Brittany Broski and Sarah Schauer, who host a podcast on YouTube called Violating Community Guidelines, successfully leverage their content by selecting their funniest moments and editing the clips together, offering a hilarious sneak peek into their episodes.
One of the duo’s most popular TikTok videos is based off of a chaotic 52-second conversation on roleplay ASMR. By offering hot takes on such a niche topic, Brittany and Sarah catch the viewers’ attention with their dark sense of humor while driving engagement on both platforms.
Mile Higher, a YouTube channel hosted by husband-wife duo Josh Thomas and Kendall Rae, takes a slightly different approach to their TikTok content. Whereas Brittany and Sarah crop and repost funny snippets of their YouTube videos as a way to generate new interest on TikTok, Josh and Kendall’s short-form content takes frightening true crime stories and supernatural experiences from their YouTube channel as a way to shock their viewers and inspire further discussion.
Josh and Kendall’s highest performing video on TikTok is a 36-second clip of a conversation speculating on the origin of UFOs. Josh’s concise narration is supported by ominous music in the background, amping up the spooky atmosphere and immediately drawing their viewers in.
However you decide to repurpose your YouTube content, strategic storytelling is key to engaging your audience on TikTok or Reels. To successfully translate long-form content into shorter clips, you need to hone in on unique moments that catch (and hold) your viewers’ attention.
Lay a strong foundation first by monitoring for trends and potential content opportunities on these newer platforms. Once you have a firm strategic direction for a short-form video, start posting!