YouTube Shorts 2.0 is here - and requires THIS strategy

YouTube Shorts 2.0 is here - and requires THIS strategy
Written by: Dexxter Clark, 13-09-2021
The time that you could get 10.000 views on a YouTube short as a happy accident is over.
YouTube adjusted the algorithm and the landscape changed considerably since the launch in 2020.

If you struggle with getting views on YouTube Shorts, you are not the only one.
I asked you on my community tab on the Social Video Plaza YouTube Channel if you make Shorts and how successful you are at that.
It turns out, that a lot of creators struggle with this.
Thanks for your submissions and your honesty.

Competition changed

Compared to the launch of YouTube shorts, YouTube shorts has gone from virtually no competition to a competitive space.
In the beginning there was a large audience and not a lot of creators, relatively speaking.

When I searched for #shorts, when I wrote this post, it was 49 million videos.
So millions, compared to a couple of thousand in the beginning.

In the beginning you could still get thousands of views with a “bad” YouTube Short, but now the competition makes Shorts that viewers enjoy much more, so the algorithm will serve those, instead of your “bad” Short.

YouTube Shorts has much more become like regular YouTube in the sense that you have to prove to the algorithm that viewers enjoy your content.
I’ll talk about the how-to-do-that in a minute.

Notifications changed

One of the things that has changed algorithmically is the notifications.
YouTube doesn’t send notifications to your subscribers for every short uploaded, even when the bell is activated.

YouTube only sends notifications to people who regularly watch shorts.
  • In other words that is an audience that watches shorts and maybe not into long form content.
  • There is less promotion of shorts to long-form content watchers.
    Of your regular audience only the small portion that also watches shorts get a notification

Shorts also in other algorithms

Shorts were traditionally only served in the shorts shelve.
But not anymore.
When you watch a lot of shorts, you can also get shorts suggestions in YouTube Home, Search and Suggested.
So the actual pool of short-viewers is increased, which is an extra opportunity for creators.

Also the YouTube algorithm picks better up on the actual topic of a YouTube Short than before.
You might know that YouTube Suggested shows often topicly related videos.
When you watch a lot of YouTube-advice channels, you are more likely get a Short with YouTube related advice.

Will shorts hurt your YouTube channel?

A lot of creators still think that YouTube Shorts hurts their audience retention on their channel.
Because shorter videos means that your average watch time on your whole channel goes down.

Although your average audience retention goes down in your Analytics indeed, that doesn’t affect your whole channel.
The promotion is calculated per video, not your channel as a whole.

Watch Time is not the thing to worry about, but “audience” is.
Someone said in a livestream on my livestream channel once: “don’t do shorts, because it gives zombie subscribers”.
That’s true.

When you do a lot of Shorts, you will attract a Shorts audience, which subscribe to you because of the Shorts and not your long-form content.
The same goes for long-form content for Shorts-subscribers.
In other words: this hurts your returning viewers.

There are 2 ways of solving this, do more long-form content than shorts or start a separate YouTube channel for shorts.
That brings me to:

Should start a separate channel?

I highly recommend you to start a separate shorts channel now the algorithms changed this much.
You won’t risk to hurt one type of content with the other, with their own specific audience.
Which in its turn will create much more returning viewers which results in quicker channel growth.

My rule of thumb is: one type of audience per YouTube channel.

I’ve advised a channel that exploded with YouTube shorts.
The ambition of the creator was to make long form content.
But nobody watched his long form content, because his audience wants to see what they subscribed to: the shorts.
He basically dug his own grave, now he keeps on making the shorts that he doesn’t like.

Monetization changed

Luckily it is now possible to earn money with shorts, but not in the way you think with ads.

YouTube has a creator fund and only awards the most successful YouTube shorts creators with money from this fund.
You don’t have to be in the YouTube Partner Program (YPP) to receive this.

Because this is a one-time payout, not a recurring one, creating a sustainable monthly income stream out of shorts isn’t possible.
So, stick to long-form content for now if monetization is your goal.

One the criteria to be able to get money from the fund is that you have to create original content, so:
  • Using content from other creators isn’t going to work
  • Computer generated content isn’t going to work
  • Non transformative content isn’t going to work (like recording gameplay without voice or face)

Type of Content changed

I’ve also seen a shift in type of content that works and not.

Snackable content / entertainment

When I watch YouTube shorts, almost all shorts I get served by the algorithm are visual entertainment videos.

Search for #shorts on YouTube and look at what type of videos are in there.
I see curiosity videos (often humor) and gaming videos that targets a broad audience.

A cat getting spooked, a guy in a banana suit slipping, a cute baby, a cute puppy …
There are not a lot of Shorts tutorials out there, in fact I didn’t see any in my Shorts feed.
Shorts are “short” snackable videos on a small screen.

If you want to make a short, condense your content down to the bare essentials, the absolute minimum to get a message across. There is no room for fluff in shorts.
If you make informational content, at least make it fun.

Shorts are easy-to-digest videos that doesn’t take up a lot of brain space for viewers, because that is generally not the state-of-mind of a mainly swiping audience.

Tutorials

If you want to do a tutorial, keep it simple: max 3 steps, max 3 tips, max 3 of everything.
It needs to be something that people can remember after they’ve watched the short.
Viewers don’t keep a pen and paper next to their phone.

By nature, tutorials are search based content, because people want that information at that specific time.
But a swiping audience has no say in what they get served next, they only can swipe to the next Short.
So, pick a broad topic in your niche to appeal to a large audience in your niche.

Something that resembles a tutorial is a timelapse.
For example: making a painting.
To make it more interesting, show your face or have at least a voice-over so people can follow along.

Remember that Shorts is meant to be fun, or evoke emotion, but not a step-by-step explanation of how to to it.

Shorts is a whole other beast

How do we make shorts that better meets the new needs that can actually compete?

Realise 5 things:

1) Rhythm

YouTube shorts is its own thing compared to long form content, with its own rhythm, speed and way of storytelling.
Shorts are not long form videos, shortened.
You create shorts in a different way.

2) Standalone content

Shorts are standalone content that can function without your long form content (if you decide to do it on the same channel).
In contrast to when Shorts was introduced: before could be an extension of your long-form content.

3) Player controls

Viewers don’t have convenient player controls on the shorts shelve on a mobile phone.
Viewers can pause or swipe, but they can’t fast forward or rewind.
Viewers can’t choose which content they see.

If things go too fast, too slow or they don’t like it, the only choice they have is to pause or swipe.

4) Vertical format video

Shorts are vertical format videos, instead of horizontal.
Make sure to record and export footage in a vertical format (1080x1920 pixels).

5) Visual content

Shorts are extremely visual, so make it visually appealing.
Things like text in a YouTube video was never a good idea, but this applies especially to YouTube Shorts.
Viewers want to watch, not read.

Watching shorts / attention

I did a little experiment I recorded myself watching shorts, because I wanted to understand how I want to behave when watching shorts
I noticed that I swiped very quickly: I decide in 1 or 2 seconds to watch the Short or not.

In other words, you have 2 seconds to grab peoples attention.
So, wack people in the face with the most awesome visual hook ever.

70% avd in traffic source

YouTube is all about audience retention and Shorts is no exception, try to have minimum 70% Average Percentage Viewed in order to stay on the shorts shelve.
This is Average View Duration of the traffic source Shorts, not the overall Average Percentage Viewed of all traffic sources.

Average Percentage Viewed is not the only metric that counts, but it is an important one.

A story line makes all the difference

Without a story line a video feels like a pointless.

A cat video is only a funny cat video when something happens.
But when you see only a cat walking and nothing happens, it’s pointless.
If the cat is startled or falls it is funny.

How long should a Short be?

YouTube shorts can be 59 seconds long when you upload via YouTube Desktop, this is a maximum.
Deliver the content, but don’t use all 59 seconds.
If you can deliver the content in 20 seconds, use 20 seconds.

Should you make a title & thumbnail?

Your title and thumbnail should communicate that it is a short.

This prevents you from having a massive viewer drop-off in the of your Short.
Viewers might confuse a Short for long-form content and vice versa.

So add #shorts to the title and make a thumbnail for your short that clearly communicates that this is a short.
Black vertical borders will do a marvelous job.

Should you make Shorts?

I’d say: try it.

Make 3 shorts as a test.
If you release them on your long-form channel, space them out in between your regular content, so 3 regular videos, 1 short, 3 regular videos, 1 short etc.

Then look at your YouTube Analytics and see what you can learn, especially look at your audience retention graph and Average Percentage Viewed for traffic source Shorts.

Then make a second batch of 3 more shorts and release them the same way as you did before: 3 videos, 3 short.
Then evaluate if you should continue.


Want free YouTube tips and tricks?
Check out the YouTube channel for this website. (opens YouTube in new tab)

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photo author dexxter clark
Dexxter Clark
Content creator / YouTuber
Social Video Plaza on YouTube Dexxter Clark on Instagram Dexxter Clark on Facebook Dexxter Clark on Linked In
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