YouTube Shorts launched in 2020 using the vertical video format pioneered by Snapchat and popularised by TikTok and Instagram Reels. Following a successful launch in India in late 2020, Shorts rolled out globally in July 2021, achieving rapid growth. Business Insider reports YouTube Shorts surpassed 50 billion daily views in Q1 2023, up from 30 billion the previous year.
Shorts is a feature of the YouTube platform that allows users to create and watch short-form mobile-first vertical videos. Shorts are limited to 60 seconds and can include music, text, and other creative elements. Shorts competes with TikTok and Instagram Reels, and the user experience is similar. The YouTube app includes Shorts in the main, lower navigation, while the web page lists Shorts on the left. Creating a Short is also one of the main options when posting from the YouTube app.
Shorts users see a feed of popular content that echoes Reels and TikTok’s “For You” page. The content is from all channels, not just followed, presenting brands with an opportunity to reach new audiences.
Some brands are even leveraging Shorts to drive sales.
- Gymshark, a U.K. fitness apparel brand, uses Shorts to showcase workout routines (repurposed from TikTok) and engage with prospects.
- Beauty retailer Sephora shares Shorts videos featuring makeup tutorials and product demonstrations.
- Walmart uses Shorts to promote seasonal grocery products and drive traffic to its website and app.
- Beauty retailer Glossier launched on Shorts the Glossier Challenge, wherein users could shop directly from the videos.
YouTube accounts with 10,000 subscribers can post Shorts to YouTube Stories, increasing reach. Account holders can advertise Shorts videos using the Google Ads platform. The ads appear in line with organic videos in users’ feeds and can include shoppable links when integrated with a product feed from Google Merchant Center.
In March, digital entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk cited YouTube Shorts (and LinkedIn and TikTok) as “underpriced attention” channels for brands to expand reach and awareness.
Many social tools, including Feedhive, Oneup, and Socialchamp, support publishing and scheduling YouTube Shorts, simplifying the process of repurposing content from TikTok and Reels. With the growing reach on YouTube and a potential ban of TikTok, Shorts offer vertical-video opportunities to marketers.