fbpx
Opinion

Is YouTube Evolving to Keep Up with TikTok?

During lockdown, TikTok’s users’ average daily watch time reached an all-time high of 85 minutes. Our attention shifted to fun, relatable content that is easily digestible, and TikTok has been the perfect fit for lockdown viewing. TikTok offers short-form, attention-grabbing, and sound on video that has shaken up social media.

As YouTube is – and has been for over a decade –  the platform for video content, they’ve responded to this challenge by releasing YouTube Shorts. This new feature offers another way to keep people on the platform longer and provides a new format for creators to upload. Although still in beta, the YouTube Shorts player now has over 6.5m daily views globally.

What is YouTube Shorts?

Shorts is a new short-form video experience for creators and artists who want to shoot catchy videos on their mobile phones. Similar to TikTok, YouTube Shorts enables users to express themselves in 15 seconds or less, via a dedicated ‘Shorts Camera’ option built into the main YouTube app, or up to 60 seconds for uploaded videos. The new feature will allow creators to evolve their content and incentivise them to post short-form content on YouTube. 

The Shorts camera is currently only available in beta in the US and India, as YouTube rushed to own the short-form video space following TikTok’s ban. However, all users can upload Shorts clips by adding the hashtag #Shorts to their short videos uploads.

In her recent Tweet on 18th March, Susan Wojcicki, YouTube CEO explained “Today we’re announcing that we’re beginning to expand the YouTube Shorts beta to the US! Read more about how we’re helping the next generation of mobile creators tell their stories.” The full article is available here. 

What does this mean for creators?

With the evolution of YouTube Shorts, we have started to see TikTok creators trying to shift their audiences to YouTube for two reasons: monetisation and algorithm. 

While the TikTok Creator Fund is a good start, YouTube is one of the few platforms that share ad revenue with creators – offering more consistent income. Currently, YouTube is developing the monetisation strategy, but with YouTube Shorts, it is easy to push viewers to your long-form content, which means you can easily capture attention and earn ad revenue.

When it comes to algorithms, YouTube is more trusted and consistent, as the platform recommends videos based on viewer interests. On TikTok, audiences don’t consistently see creators’ content on the ‘for you’ page, so viewership vastly fluctuates. Shorts will be another way for creators to boost their distribution and reach, contributing to creators’ overall channel-level view count, according to Creator Insider

Supporting Creators

One of the key successes of TikTok has been its focus on mobile production and in-app editing. YouTube’s Shorts Camera makes it even easier for people to create content on their phones. In a recent overview of YouTube’s 2021 priorities, CEO Susan Wojcicki notes “We’re now beta testing YouTube Shorts in India and we’re excited to help the next generation of mobile creators tell their stories by lowering the barriers to entry.” 

The Shorts Camera removes some of the barriers of editing, production, and cost, that can make it difficult to become a content creator. YouTube’s chief product officer Neal Mohan explained that “Every year, increasing numbers of people come to YouTube to launch their own channel. But we know there’s still a huge amount of people who find the bar for creation too high. That’s why we’re working on Shorts, our new short-form video tool that lets creators and artists shoot snappy videos with nothing but their mobile phones.”

While the rise of TikTok could seem daunting to some creators, YouTube wants to demystify new formats. To help educate creators, YouTube has announced the launch of ‘Shorts report’: a bi-weekly overview of key Shorts product updates, inspiration, and best practices. According to YouTube: “Our goal with the Shorts Report is simple; support YOU on your creation journey, regardless of your starting point.”

Another perk is the range of audio available on YouTube. For now, you can record audio and use audio from other Shorts. As Shorts expands, YouTube has partnered with over 250 labels and publishers, so eventually, creators will be able to use any audio from YouTube videos in Shorts, offering vast creative freedom.

The Future

YouTube Shorts shows that the short-form video trend is here to stay. People will watch more videos on YouTube and creators will edit more digestible content. Ultimately creators will make more money on YouTube than on TikTok.

To start with, creators will repurpose their TikTok content onto YouTube, as YouTube has not yet echoed Instagram’s announcement that content with the TikTok logo will be de-prioritised. Many TikTok creators are desperately trying to establish YouTube channels, and with the introduction of Shorts, some may retreat entirely to YouTube as everything they need is on one platform. 

YouTube Shorts offers a huge opportunity for branded content, that no one has taken advantage of yet. One of the biggest pain points for sponsored content on TikTok is the inconsistent views, but YouTube Shorts is likely to have more consistent viewership. Brands should be trialing this format now.

We have high hopes for YouTube Shorts. Hopefully, this will make it easier for the next generation of content creators to grow and earn a consistent income.

Have your say