What is YouTube Shorts and how does it differ from competitors like TikTok?

In mid 2020, the popular video sharing and social media platform, YouTube, announced its plans to launch a new service designed specifically to host short-form content. In what appears to be a bid to take on companies like TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat, whose platforms focus almost exclusively on short video content, the company has already witnessed phenomenal growth – totaling 15 billion daily video views between March and June 2021.

Originally launched in India, the platform went on to trial its next phase in 26 countries across the globe, including the US and the UK, As of July 2021, the platform, which at the time of writing is in its beta phase, has officially gone live in more than 100 countries. 

What does the platform look like?

YouTube Shorts includes many of the same features as TikTok. This includes things like a multi-segment camera, so that creators can easily string together a series of clips, a wide selection of music tracks that can be used as background music to a video, and a captioning tool for those people who like to explain the purpose behind their videos. 

Unlike TikTok, you won’t need to download a specific app to watch YouTube Shorts, as it’s included within the service’s main mobile app. To use Shorts, open the YouTube app and scroll down until you see a section called Shorts. 

Once you’ve found this section on the homepage, you’ll be able to see a selection of thumbnails showing the most popular Shorts. Clicking on any of these videos will launch a vertical video player. Users will then be able to swipe through an endless video feed, which is based on an algorithm that determines what content you spend the most time watching. You can also subscribe to your favourite creators, explore specific hashtags, and remix other video’s audio tracks for your own content. 

For creators looking to add Shorts to their channel, click the middle button the YouTube app (also known as the create tab) and look for “Create a Short”. You’ll then be able to create a video that lasts up to 60 seconds. it should be noted however, that videos using third party music can only be up to 15 seconds in length at this time. 

What’s so different about Shorts?

What will be an appealing factor to anyone wanting to use Shorts as part of their influencer profile is the fact that YouTube will share subscriptions across traditional channels and Shorts. Therefore, if you already have a large number of subscribers on YouTube, more people are also likely going to see your Shorts rather than you having to build your fanbase from scratch.

In the future, the company also wants to allow users to remix sound from any YouTube video for use in Shorts. This is a potential goldmine of content for creators to remix into new memes and videos. 

What are the challenges the platform faces?

While the platform is still in its infancy, it faces an uphill battle getting into and encouraging creators to use its platform and their preferred site to host short form content. 

Among one of the key challenges is how creators make money from Shorts. YouTube has stated that it doesn’t want to run advertisements before each Short, as it does with longer form videos. Instead, the platform has created the Shorts Fund of $100 million per year, which aims to pay out to creators based on their video popularity. 

These payment schemes are also how TikTok and Snapchat monetise their platforms too. Creators can earn up to $10,000 per month, although payouts aren’t guaranteed, as factors like audience location will also be taken into consideration.  

Despite these efforts, TikTok’s own Creator Fund is highly competitive. It currently pays out around $200 million to content creators each year and has plans to increase this amount to $1 billion in the US alone over the next three years

To qualify for any payments, content creators must produce original videos for Shorts. This is a problem Instagram Reels has also struggled with as many sites now allow you to strip a watermark from a video created on one site so that you can use it on others. Reposting popular TikToks onto other platforms is an easy way for a creator to make money on a number of sites without having to do much work. 

YouTube has stated that in order to make sure it is paying those creating original content it will be using algorithms to downgrade recycled content and human reviewers to make sure anyone the company is paying is adhering to its community guidelines.

While Shorts may currently be missing a few key features of TikTok that have made that platform so popular, if anyone can go head-to-head with the largest competitors of short-form video, it’s the internet’s reigning video behemoth, YouTube. It will be an exciting space to watch in the coming year.

Will you be using YouTube Shorts? Let us know in the comments section. And, if you have any questions or other technology queries, please tweet us at @techtroublesho1.

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