4 Smart Tips for Exploring YouTube Shorts for Your Business
If anyone tells you they’re a YouTube Shorts expert, take that claim with a grain of salt.
YouTube Shorts are still in their infancy and users of all backgrounds and degrees of YouTube success — IMPACT included — are just figuring how they can be used, what users respond to, and what benefits can be reaped.
Even in this sea of unknown, however, one thing is for certain: With their large existing audience, SEO potential, and low barrier to entry, YouTube Shorts are worth paying attention to as a business. That being said, let’s break down what we do know about YouTube Shorts and how businesses can start exploring them for their marketing.
What are YouTube Shorts?
Following in the footsteps of Instagram Reels and TikTok, YouTube introduced Shorts — short-form, vertical videos within the YouTube platform — in July 2021.
Shorts are, well, short, with just a 60 second limit. This limit is cut even further to 15 seconds if you use music from YouTube’s Audio Library.
However, despite their brevity, YouTube is giving Shorts high billing with their own dedicated tab on the YouTube mobile app and on YouTube channels.
Now, at a glance, this may seem pretty ho-hum — like just a copycat of its predecessors and competitors on other platforms.
Truth be told, YouTube Shorts are still young and quite limited in terms of creative features and differentiators.
In fact, there are no engagement “stickers” like on Instagram and only a few dozen effects, compared to hundreds on TikTok. There isn’t even an easy way to customize your thumbnail like you can with regular YouTube videos.
All this considered, Shorts can seem like the “wild west” as one of my teammates put it, but with Google at the helm, YouTube Shorts may offer significant long-term benefits that businesses shouldn’t ignore.
So, why should you care about YouTube Shorts?
Unmatched global reach
Probably the biggest benefit of Shorts is the fact that YouTube is behind it.
YouTube is the second most visited website in the world. Bested only by its parent company, Google. YouTube has over 2.6 billion monthly active users in 100 countries.
This gives businesses an unmatched, engaged potential audience to reach with their YouTube Shorts.
We also know that, in recent years, Google has not only incorporated, but often prioritized YouTube videos in its search results. As the most popular search engine in the world, this is huge.
While only time will confirm, it’s safe to assume Shorts may soon be added into the mix as well. That said, YouTube Shorts may prove to be a powerful player in the realm of search engine optimization (SEO).
In recent months, YouTube has also introduced monetization opportunities for Shorts and started testing shopping and affiliate marketing features. All of these features can help businesses generate revenue from even just views on their videos.
While similar features are available on Instagram and TikTok as well, investing in a platform under Google may have much bigger and long-term search, awareness, and monetary benefits.
Lower barrier to entry
This technically applies to most short-form video, but it’s still worth mentioning. YouTube Shorts have a lower barrier to entry in terms of production than many other forms of video.
Unlike even their longer cousins on YouTube, where professional-level video and audio quality are quite common, Shorts are intended to be viewed on mobile and be less polished, much like Instagram and Snapchat Stories.
For businesses on a budget or limited on resources, this raw nature makes it easier to get started. You can simply use a smartphone or tablet.
Of course, this doesn’t mean businesses can neglect video quality all together, but it does mean it shouldn’t hold you back.
Furthermore, the brief length of Shorts can be a much easier sell for getting your more camera-shy teammates to start creating content.
Can’t get someone to commit to a landing page or 80% video? Perhaps a 60-second Short will be more their speed.
Secure host for your short-form video
Short-form video is nothing to scoff at. In fact, according to Sprout Social, consumers find short-form video 2.5 times more engaging than long-form video, making it a powerful asset to any marketing strategy.
With renewed talks of a ban of TikTok in the United States and Instagram quick to evolve, YouTube is likely the most stable and reliable host for your short-form videos.
Think about it. Should TikTok get banned or Instagram continue to struggle with phishing scams, all of your videos as well as the following you’ve earned on those platforms could disappear.
While no platform is truly safe, YouTube and Google are undoubtedly two of the most stable and well-established globally. This makes them a much safer bet for hosting your short-form endeavors.
Strategic tips for exploring YouTube Shorts for business
There are plenty of great articles on how to create and post a Short on YouTube out there, so we won’t go into that here.
Rather, I’ve talked to our team of video trainers and producers to learn what they recommend businesses do to start exploring YouTube Shorts for their marketing.
1. Be as visual as possible
Not every topic calls for a video.
When it comes to using YouTube Shorts for business, reserve it for fast, engaging topics where visual aids are a must or the value of the content relies on it being seen.
For example, take IMPACT client Attach2, a Designer and Manufacturer of general and specialist excavator attachments.
In its YouTube Shorts, the company grabs its audience’s attention and shows its products in action through demolish videos:
The demolition videos are fast and exciting, but also highlight what the company’s products can do.
Don’t have something as action-packed as a demolition to show off? Get creative.
Enhance even talking head style videos by adding visual aids like popular memes, movie clips, or graphics like we’ve experimented with at IMPACT:
Don’t take yourself too seriously! Incorporating more playful elements can make your brand more approachable and relatable.
2. Tease your longer videos or other initiatives
You can also use your 60 seconds in YouTube Shorts to tease your longer videos on YouTube or promote other content.
Think of it like a mini movie trailer.
You can use your YouTube Short to quickly use audio and video to show or tell a viewer why they should stick around to watch a longer video, visit your website or download a guide among other things.
In this example from IMPACT client CSI Accounting and Payroll, you’ll see the company discusses the differences between exempt and nonexempt employees, but this is a complex topic.
Rather than give viewers all the information at once, they instead share a quick overview then guide people to view the full version of the video via a link in the comments and description.
They also include links to their consultation page and more resources on their website. This smart move can help turn one minute of viewing into much longer on-site engagement or even potentially a new lead.
3. Capitalize on trending topics and current events
YouTube Shorts move quickly. In some ways, they’re like tweets on Twitter. Once posted, each one has a very narrow window of time where it can make an impact before it gets buried under new content.
Because of this, it’s wise to use Shorts to speak to things that are top-of-mind for viewers like trending topics and current events.
The better you can appeal to what your audience is interested in at that moment, the more likely you are to capture their attention and engagement.
Take this example from brand strategist Chris Do.
In this Short from February 2023, Do reflects on singer Rihanna’s then-recent high-profile SuperBowl half-time performance to deliver some of his signature commentary on monetizing your passion.
The content is 100% relevant to his brand, but uses the current event to add even more context for audiences and grab their attention.
4. Optimize for search — and clicks!
While specifics about the SEO of Shorts are still debated, it’s smart to optimize your captions/titles and descriptions with discovery in mind.
Know what keywords and search intents you’re going after and make sure they are present in your description and title. Also, aim to pique curiosity. Tease the content, use humor, and summarize what viewers can expect to see.
Though there’s currently no way to upload a thumbnail for your Shorts, users have been experimenting with different hacks to give them more control. So, get creative!
In the dedicated Shorts tab of the YouTube app, videos are served up randomly according to the platform’s algorithm. This is similar to TikTok, so thumbnails and titles don’t matter as much.
However, on desktop as well as the main tab in the mobile app, titles and thumbnails are visible and may play a part in if the video gets viewed:
You are given 100 characters for titles, but keep them as concise as possible as you don’t have much visual real estate to display them.
(Even in our example, many of the titles get cut off — and they are cut off at different points on desktop and mobile.)
Studies show that 69% of people watch videos without sound. Add in users with hearing difficulties and it should be no surprise that we recommend all of your YouTube Shorts have subtitles or captions.
Not only will subtitles help increase the accessibility and reach of your videos, some experts believe they can even be crawled by search engines to help you get found.
Experiment with Shorts for long-term results
A lot about YouTube Shorts is still up and the air and this can be confusing — but it can also be freeing.
Rather than worrying that you may not be doing the “right thing” with Shorts, take the novelty as a license to experiment.
Play around with different topics and styles and discover what the “right thing” may be for your brand and audience. Maybe it’s humor. Maybe it’s behind the scenes footage. Maybe it’s education.
Not sure where to start testing? Take a look at what your competition, influencers, or other businesses are already doing with YouTube Shorts.
What’s getting views for them? What’s getting engagement? Take inspiration from those seeing success or with a similar audience and explore how you can adopt some of the ideas.
Also, take a look at your existing content backlog and ask yourself which topics might be suited for a short video. Combine a variety of these things and see how they perform.
From there, let data guide you.
Analyzing your views, watch time, average view percentage, and even your reach will help you better understand the opportunities your business specifically has with YouTube Shorts and how to pivot to maximize them.
Wondering where to begin?