If you’ve spent any time on YouTube in the past year, you’ve likely come across YouTube Shorts. These are short, vertical videos that are typically under 60 seconds and play on a loop. YouTube Shorts were introduced in 2020 as a response to the popularity of TikTok and other short-form video apps.
Since then, they have exploded in popularity and are now a key tool for content creators to drive traffic to their channels and long-form videos. But why have YouTube Shorts and vertical video become so important, and how can creators use them effectively? To answer these questions, we spoke with Sean Cannell, a YouTube expert and founder of Think Media.
Why Vertical Videos are Here to Stay
Vertical video is nothing new, but it has become increasingly popular in recent years. According to a report from Cisco, vertical video accounted for 60% of all mobile video views in 2020. This is partly due to the rise of smartphones and social media platforms that are designed for mobile devices.
But vertical video isn’t just popular because it fits the format of mobile screens. As Sean Cannell explains, “Vertical video is more natural because it’s the way we hold our phones. We’re more likely to watch a vertical video all the way through because we don’t have to rotate our phones to watch it.” (Listen to a full interview here).
This is why YouTube Shorts have been so successful. By tapping into the natural behavior of mobile users, YouTube has created a new way for creators to reach their audience. “YouTube Shorts are a way to get discovered by people who might not have found you otherwise,” says Cannell. “If you can create a great YouTube Short, you can drive a lot of traffic to your channel.”
How YouTube Shorts Drive Traffic to Your Channel
YouTube Shorts work differently than traditional YouTube videos. Instead of relying on search results or recommendations, YouTube Shorts are surfaced to users through the Shorts shelf on the YouTube app. This means that creators can reach a new audience that might not have found their channel otherwise.
But getting your Shorts seen is just the first step. The goal is to use your Shorts to drive traffic to your channel and long-form videos. According to Cannell, there are a few ways to do this:
Include a call to action in your Short. At the end of your Short, encourage viewers to check out your channel for more content.
Create a series of Shorts that are related to your long-form videos. This will give viewers a taste of what they can expect from your channel and encourage them to check out your other videos.
Use your Shorts to promote your upcoming content. If you have a new video or series coming out, create a Short that previews it and encourages viewers to tune in.
The key is to make your Shorts as engaging and shareable as possible. “If your Shorts are good, people will share them,” says Cannell. “This can help you reach an even wider audience and drive more traffic to your channel.”
How to Make Engaging YouTube Shorts
So what makes a great YouTube Short? According to Cannell, there are a few key factors:
Grab attention right away. “The first few seconds of your Short are crucial,” says Cannell. “You need to hook viewers right away and give them a reason to keep watching.”
Keep it simple. Shorts are short for a reason, so don’t try to pack too much information or too many visuals into them. Focus on one idea or message and keep it simple.
Use text and captions. Because Shorts are often watched without sound, it’s important to use text and captions to convey your message. This will also make your Shorts more accessible to viewers who are deaf or hard of hearing.
And if you’re thinking “it’s too late to get started and have success,” think again! YouTube Shorts are in their infancy and some channels are blowing up JUST using shorts and nothing long-form.
Overall, it’s important to make your Shorts as engaging and shareable as possible. If your Shorts are good, people will share them, which can help you reach an even wider audience and drive more traffic to your channel.