YouTube shorts: added value for companies and consumers?

YouTube’s short video section Shorts is supposed to compete with TikTok and Instagram Reels. But does this option also offer brands new opportunities on the largest video platform par excellence?

YouTube discovered the short video trend with YouTube Shorts. At the beginning of the year it was announced that the Google subsidiary was working on a new short video platform. Now it is there. But what added value does the function offer? And do companies and creators now have to rethink?

YouTube Shorts allows you to create 15-second clips – similar to TikTok and, as of this year, reels on Instagram. The clips can be provided with various effects and filters for all three offers and then shared directly on the platform. Not a new idea – but one that works well at least on TikTok and Instagram. The trend is stable, especially in the young target group.

YouTube Shorts launches on the Indian market. A perfect time, it seems, because TikTok has been banned here since June. So YouTube has the chance to conquer the market without much competition. Indian society is very media-savvy, but mostly uses smartphones instead of notebooks. This does not matter for watching YouTube clips, but it does for production: Short videos are more convenient to create on a smartphone than longer ones. YouTube Shorts also has various tools in its luggage: timer, countdown, speed control and various editing functions. The clips recorded with the smartphone can therefore be edited and uploaded directly within the app.

shorts YouTube shorts in action
YouTube shorts in action, © YouTube

More community maintenance than content piece

YouTube is not reinventing itself with shorts. The platform has been offering the Community Tab for a number of years, the main purpose of which is to stay in contact with viewers and fans between individual videos. Many YouTubers only publish their videos once a week because the production and editing of high-quality content also takes more time.

In the Community tab, creators have been able to publish feed contributions for several years. This can be texts, photos, gifs and videos as well as surveys. YouTube Shorts is the next logical step to further lower the entry barrier for content on the platform. As with other new features, YouTube will also push shorts and place them prominently in the app. Therefore, it makes sense for creators and brands to test the new functions immediately at the start in Germany.

Shorts offers a new data source for the algorithm on YouTube. The new feature creates the opportunity to recognize faster signals. Because this is exactly where the advantage of TikTok lies: thanks to the very short content pieces, impulses can be sent to the algorithm very quickly. More and more suitable user profiles are created that are practically constantly updated. The length of conventional videos on YouTube has not yet offered this option to the same extent, as there are fewer different signals to track within a video. YouTube Shorts theoretically offers the possibility of integrating these signals into the algorithm and thereby making it even better.

YouTube’s position of power as a Google product remains undisputed. The videos that are uploaded to YouTube are an integral part of Google search. That is clearly the great strength of the platform, with which no other social network can compete. One can therefore assume that the shorts will also have a role in terms of relevance criteria – as it was before with some of the other features of the platform. Google is already testing its feature stories in search. It will be exciting when shorts are also used here – and why should Google forego them? Of course, the quality of the short videos is also decisive: Google has made it its business to only rank high-quality content well. To what extent a corresponding production with YouTube shorts will be possible remains to be seen.

Conclusion: In the short is the flavor?

It would be nonsense to say: “From now on we will only produce short videos.” Because the real strength of YouTube ultimately lies in the length of the videos. It is not for nothing that the algorithm rewards a longer watch time with greater attention. For creators, this means that short videos don’t suddenly become the main content. YouTube Shorts will probably establish itself as a supplementary fan loyalty tool analogous to the Community tab – and of course also bring new marketing opportunities with it.

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