Short-form videos are ruling right now. However, I initially didn’t see their beauty as related to business— the core topic I always learn about and produce content around.
One thing changing my mind is the ability, through new technology, to create shorts easily. Which, at first consideration, felt like an additional project requiring an output of time, money, and work many small businesses couldn’t easily add to their usual content repertoire.
But with new tools now at our fingertips, starting with Canva’s latest upgrades, the production of vertical short-form video is much easier and more accessible.
So, finding the right reasons and ways to put short-form videos into your content mix may not be such a bad idea. IF (there’s always an IF, right?), you are thoughtful in your approach and keep an audience-centric focus as a top priority.
But remember, an audience-first take doesn’t mean the elimination of business objectives, such as converting viewers to customers.
Studying what YouTube reveals to us on the topic is a good idea to get the balance correct. Here’s a recent interview with YouTube’s Director of Shorts Product Management, Todd Sherman.
It’s from Todd’s interview I stole the title, “The Audience is The Algorithm,” because that’s exactly what he says.
This sentiment also reflects what I’ve said of Google for years now. And, well, YouTube is owned by Google. But you may want to note that the Shorts algorithm is separate from that of long-form content.
Still, there are a few other important takeaways from what Todd reveals in the video, plus more tips for YouTube shorts I want to share with you as I’m learning more about them, too.
As always, audience engagement is the key.
Tips for Shorts from YouTube
Some of the scoops Todd talks about may surprise you. For example, he says NOT to spend time making thumbnails for Shorts as they are minimally seen, so taking time to create them makes little sense. Hmmm.
Select thumbnails by simply selecting a frame from the up to sixty-second video created horizontally at a 9:16 frame ratio. (I keep mine at fifty-nine seconds in length to be safe for uploading to YouTube.)
He also explains how views for Shorts are counted when “intentional” vs. a mere swipe or scrolling action. On the other hand, swiping is often how Shorts are found and seen. Views are determined by factors like explicit actions and time spent viewing your video.
Just like long-form content, viewing time matters!
Todd suggests you immediately grab a viewer’s attention to gain view time and interest in your content. Time of day doesn’t play a significant role in algorithm optimization, but audience engagement is absolutely the main key. Note that YouTube doesn’t publish exact view thresholds to prevent gaming attempts.
Because there’s no ideal time for Shorts videos, Todd recommends you focus on telling your story effectively— in whatever time frame— to capture your audience’s attention. Think quality over quantity. Frequency is not a factor.
What is a factor is how crucial it is to grab a viewer’s attention at the onset, right in the first few seconds! Tell your story effectively to draw and hold interest and ultimately increase that crucial metric, view time.
Hashtags are not a requirement for your Shorts, Todd says, but they can be effective in increasing your video’s visibility. Just as keyword research and attention to video SEO help boost the algorithm, why not leverage whatever you can to increase the chance of getting your short videos seen?
A Few More Details to Get Your Shorts Seen
According to the video and Todd’s input, the time of day doesn’t play a significant role in algorithm optimization for Shorts. Also, there’s no set rule for the optimal frequency for publishing your short-form videos.
What does matter is that you focus on quality over quantity and pay attention to factors like engagement and watch time to iterate and improve your short-form videos over time.
On the Think Media Podcast, Sean Cannell reminds us that the success of your YouTube channel isn’t about short-form vs. long-form content but rather a combination of both.
However, having a strategy for your short-form approach is a game-changer for user enjoyment and engagement— and to reach your key business results.
So what can you work on to increase the success of your short-form videos?
YouTube Coach, Owen Video, says to keep a video’s objective or goal at the forefront of your video creations. Keep your video strategy in mind for each of the various types of video content in your content media mix, he suggests.
Starting with a goal within your bigger strategy leads you right to the next few considerations. First, keyword research helps tie your topic to search so people can find you. Researching keywords will guide other decisions to help the video get found and seen as well. Titles, for example.
Both titles and thumbnails, including headlines and copy, are heavily influenced by doing keyword research, and doing so increases the probability of getting picked up by the algorithm and seen by more people. Creating a strong description is another way to reinforce your video’s keywords so YouTube understands who it’s for. These initial steps, essential for SEO (search engine optimization), are strongest as a cohesive strategy.
Short-form Video Link Power
Link your shorts to other important or related content from you. Whether you want to link to a short or long-form video or even to a livestream on your YouTube channel, connect the dots with similar topics and give viewers a way to experience more of your content with an easy click.
What Else for Short-form Craveable Videos?
When you’re clear on the details in the previous section and purposeful with your short-form videos, your CTA or call-to-action (what you want viewers to do next) will also be baked in, making it more authentic and flow naturally from the content. And remember, you always want viewers to do something next— to take the next step to get to know you!
Even in short form, here are a few things you can incorporate into your videos to make them more compelling.
- A Grand Opening– a hook to draw the audience in beyond the click!
- Story– a beginning, middle, and end is always nice:)
- A Cliffhanger– leave the viewer curious and clamoring to click through.
- Surprising Fact or New Tip– making your video a must-watch situation.
- A Snazzy Promotion– inviting your viewers to a longer-form piece of content like a how-to video or blog post.
- Entertaining or Funny Styling– grab viewers’ attention; keep it piqued.
Further, go ahead and add extras like captions, stickers, or music for fun attention-grabbers.
Take a look at this sample short from Joie Gharrity’s Superstar Women Entrepreneurs Media Network spotlighting an interview with documentary filmmaker, actor, and author, Leslie Zemeckis, with an intriguing clip to entice you to watch the entire fascinating interview.
Finding Your Audience
And, of course, remember, THE AUDIENCE IS THE ALGORITHM, so deliver valuable, quality, usable content just for them. One single person at a time.
Besides short-form videos, long-form and LIVE videos also have significant roles in your video content strategy, as Owen explains. Each has a place in your marketing funnel and plays a part in how people get to know you. But, he stresses, the quality of the view is a factor and something you need to think about before publishing your videos.
One way to determine how your video is performing is to look closer at your video analytics and pay attention to “watch time,” which most YouTubers will tell you is way way more important than mere view counts, for example. This article from the Hubspot blog will help untangle the details of finding and understanding what the key metrics for YouTube are and why they matter.
Finally, Owen shares that what a viewer gets from a minute or less video is likely not as impactful as what you can offer in longer-form projects.
Overall, adding a short-form video component to your video media mix sounds pretty awesome, after all. Here are a few more updates you’ll want to know for the latest in shorts creations from the YouTube Creators channel.
A Wrap on Short-Form Video
Okay, so it seems short-form videos bring a multiple-purpose and now easy-to-create component to your content and marketing strategy. But, if you’re not thoughtful about the purpose, the value, the CTA, and more than all else, what your viewers want and need, then you may be wasting your time.
It’s imperative you tie each piece of content into your content and marketing plan while aligning with business goals and objectives you are working to reach. A strategic approach isn’t just the best approach; it’s the only way to go.
Are you creating short-form videos yet for your business? If so, how often? How do you feel about this kind of content? Are short-form videos helping to generate more notice and engagement for your channel? Let me know what you think in the comments below.
This is my latest attempt at a short-form video: