What are YouTube Shorts and how to use them

If there’s one thing we know for sure about social media, it’s that you can always expect to see new features, content types and ways to engage your audience.

One of the latest features by YouTube is YouTube Shorts.

Haven’t heard it? No worries, you’re not behind the curve. In fact, you’ve probably already been creating this type of short-form video content on other platforms.

What are YouTube Shorts?

Because the vertical micro-videos have proven to be so popular, a number of platforms are trying to get a piece of the pie (we’ve got our eyes on you too, Instagram Reels).

YouTube is filling the gap of vertical short-form videos on its platform as well.

And while many brands are repurposing content and sharing them across platforms, this provides yet another way for brands and businesses to engage their YouTube subscribers.

And if you’re new to micro-video content in general, here’s a great example of a YouTube Short  (click the image to view):

How can brands benefit from YouTube Shorts?

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s talk more about why this matters. YouTube Shorts can be a great way for brands to further engage and increase brand awareness with their customers.

Additionally, more than 70% of all YouTube watch time comes from mobile devices. And since YouTube Shorts is a mobile-first feature, you may reach that expanded viewership with more than horizontal, long-form video content. It’s time to switch things up.

Since YouTube Shorts was released in July 2021, this feature has reached 15 billion daily average views. People are watching—and loving—YouTube Shorts. So if your brand already has a presence on YouTube, consider adding some micro-vertical video content into your YouTube marketing strategy.

Plus, if a new potential customer finds your brand via Shorts and subscribes, they’re automatically subscribed to your long-form content as well. So this gives you an entirely new outlet to increase your channel subscriptions. Win-win, right?

How to make YouTube Shorts

Ready to start creating your own YouTube Shorts? You can create them from scratch right inside the app or upload previously created videos. The latter tactic is ideal if you’re repurposing your TikToks, Instagram Reels or YouTube videos onto your channel.

But if you want to create native, unique YouTube Shorts content, follow these steps:

Step 1. Open up the YouTube app on your mobile device and tap the plus sign at the bottom of the screen.

Step 2. Tap Create a Short. If you’ve never created a Short before, you’ll need to Allow Access to your camera.

A screenshot showcasing how to start creating a YouTube Short.

Step 3. Start recording your video by tapping the red record button. By default, Shorts are set for up to 15 seconds. But if you tap the 15 above the record button, you can change that to 60 seconds.

Like most short-form video apps, you can flip your camera, adjust the recording speed, set a timer before recording or add filters to your video. Each of these options are available in the menu on the right side of your screen.

To record multiple segments, tap the record button when you’re finished recording your first clip, then tap it again to resume recording for your next segment.

A screenshot showing how to record and edit a YouTube Short.

Or, instead of recording a new video, you can tap your camera roll in the bottom left corner of the screen to upload a pre-recorded video.

Step 4. Once you’re happy with your video, tap the white check in the bottom right corner of the screen. Here, you can preview your video, add music or include text overlays. Then tap Next.

A screenshot showing how to add sound, text and filters to your YouTube Short.

Step 5. Create a caption for your video, then tap Upload Short.

YouTube Shorts best practices

Let’s cover a few best practices first to help you get the most out of this new marketing avenue.

Post consistently

Just as most platforms do with new features, it’s safe to assume that YouTube is prioritizing Shorts for performance and views. One creator’s analysis looks to verify that after seeing a “massive jump in views in the last month since uploading a Short every day”.

Creating YouTube Shorts consistently will help you boost your brand reach to a wider audience. If you’re struggling with staying organized, making a content calendar that will help you plan out ideas and stay on schedule.

Keep it below 58 seconds

Although your Shorts can be up to 60 seconds, the sweet spot seems to be at 58 seconds or less. And with this type of video content, the shorter, the better. After all, people are watching YouTube Shorts as a quick way to consumer content.

Get creative with your captions

Your caption can be up to 100 characters, so make it count. Tease the content, use a funny line, summarize what viewers can expect to see and the like.

While your video is the most important part, captions are still shown when Shorts pop up on the YouTube home feed, so having a compelling caption can be what makes someone decide to watch your video or keep scrolling.

A screenshot of YouTube Shorts on the YouTube home feed.

Record in vertical format

No one wants to turn their screen as they watch YouTube Shorts, so make sure you’re always shooting in vertical format to make your videos easy to consume. Even a horizontal video with black bars bordering it to make it vertical isn’t an ideal viewing experience. So just keep it easy and stick to vertical.

Make content relevant to your audience

What is your audience going to enjoy most? If you’re not sure what to create, spend a while exploring the platform to see what other businesses are putting out there. A few ideas include:

  • How-to videos
  • Quick reviews
  • A relevant story
  • Industry tips
  • Fun facts
  • An experiment
  • Use a trending sound byte

If your short-form video content is relevant, engaging, educational and valuable to your target audience, then you’re on the right track.

Focus on making the first few seconds captivating

If those first few seconds don’t immediately hook your viewer, they’re going to keep scrolling. Those first few seconds of your video are the most important part. Find a way to reel your viewers in right as they start to watch your video that makes them want to stay for the rest of the clip.

Use trending songs, hashtags and events

One great way to increase views and get people interested in your content is using trending songs, events, audio clips, hashtags and challenges. Because of the viral nature of the content, you can boost visibility and reach new audiences. Just make sure that it’s still relevant to your business and makes sense for your brand.

Use your authentic voice

Don’t forget your brand voice when creating YouTube Shorts. You still want to follow your guidelines to ensure your video content still makes sense for your brand and aligns with your messaging and mission. If your content seems out of place for your brand, it can hurt your image and reputation.

Show behind-the-scenes moments

Consumers love a good behind-the-scenes moment. Use your Shorts videos to showcase product creation, product packaging, office tours, behind-the-scenes from filming, bloopers and other fun video clips. Giving your audience a glimpse behind the logo can help to humanize your brand and make your viewers more interested in what you have to share.

Remember that Shorts loop

YouTube Shorts (and all other micro-videos) loop back to the beginning once the video clip ends. Use this to your advantage by tying the beginning and end of your video together, creating a seamless loop that will keep viewers entertained and interested in watching more of your videos.

Monetize your YouTube Shorts

You can monetize your YouTube Shorts using the YouTube Shorts Fund. This is a $100 million fund dedicated to creators who are publishing YouTube Shorts specifically as a way to incentivize creators and businesses to use this new feature. If you’ve monetized your YouTube channel, creating Shorts is yet another way to increase the revenue you’re generating.

Start creating your own YouTube Shorts

YouTube Shorts are a great way to improve the performance of your YouTube channel overall. Don’t forget to check out our guide to find more ways to increase your video views. Then start creating, publishing and promoting your YouTube video content.

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