With a staggering 50 billion daily in-app views, YouTube Shorts has solidified its position as the most rapidly expanding content format.
Launched in 2021, Shorts emerged as YouTube's response to platforms like TikTok and Instagram Reels, offering a space for viral video content. These vertical videos, known as YouTube Shorts, can be any length up to a maximum of sixty seconds. Unlike conventional long-form content on YouTube, Shorts employs a swipe-based navigation similar to TikTok, allowing you to seamlessly scroll through these engaging videos.
Todd Sherman, Shorts Product Lead at YouTube, has recently answered some of the most prevalent questions regarding YouTube Shorts, revealing how the algorithm works. As a creative and digital agency in the Midlands, we wanted to outline the key features of the platform.
During the interview, Todd Sherman said, “your audience is your algorithm” highlighting the significance of tailoring your content to your viewer’s preferences. He emphasised that creating videos with your audience in mind takes precedence over crafting content solely to align with the algorithm’s demands.
Whilst this is similar to long-form videos, the way you capture your audience should be different with YouTube shorts. With these new short-form videos, the audience isn’t actively clicking on your video and choosing to watch it, as they would do with long-form, which means you have to grab their attention even quicker.
Views are calculated in a distinct manner compared to other social platforms. Unlike receiving a view simply upon the initial frame view, YouTube employs an algorithmic approach to gauge views, counting them only when 'the viewer exhibits intent to engage with the video.'
Although Sherman refrained from delving into the algorithm's intricacies, he did emphasise its continuous evolution. The algorithm is fine-tuned to align with an improved comprehension of the audience's engagement and enjoyment. YouTube feel this is a better way to calculate views as it is more ‘meaningful’ and allows you to really gauge what your audience enjoys watching.
A frequent question content creators have been desperate to ask YouTube is with regards to the length they should be aiming for when producing short form videos.
It was revealed that the length of the video isn’t important, and Sherman said, “the video should be as long as you need to share your story.”
Thumbnails have created a split opinion amongst content creators with some wanting to spend time on the perfect thumbnail and others saying they would rather spend that time on producing another video. YouTube shorts don’t currently allow you to change your thumbnail other than choosing which frame of the video will be shown. This is because the thumbnail is very rarely seen.
Sherman revealed that the thumbnail plays no part in gaining more views or more engagement and that creators are best to use their time creating more content.
Since its launch in 2021, the role of YouTube Shorts hashtags has sparked discussion. Todd Sherman weighed in on this, emphasising a straightforward approach to using hashtags in conjunction with YouTube Shorts. While they do serve to establish connections with other videos and topics, it's important to acknowledge that they aren't absolutely essential.
Is understanding the algorithm key to success?
The short answer is no. Following Todd Sherman's interview, the main lesson learned is that emphasising your audience's needs takes precedence over obsessing about the perfect length, hashtag, or thumbnail.
Sherman also revealed that the day and time of the post, as well as the volume of content you publish, do not have an impact on the algorithm. The most important thing when it comes to creating content is understanding who your target audience is and what they want to see.Return to blog