In a conversation with YouTube Shorts’ product lead Todd Sherman, the video-sharing platform offers insider tips to creators and brands using the short-form video channel in an interview featured on Creator Insider, a YouTube channel intended to provide information for the creator community.
According to Sherman, Shorts creators will reap the most benefit from their posts if they focus on audience over algorithm.
“On long form, a lot of the times people are choosing which video by tapping on it on their phone, or clicking on it on the web, and that choice is something that drives a lot of engagement,” Sherman explains. “On short-form, people are swiping through a feed, and discovering things as they go. That’s one important difference.”
In addition, creators should know that not every swipe in Shorts is counted as a view -- in contrast to TikTok, which counts views the instant a video begins to play.
On YouTube, the Shorts view is based more on a user's intent, although the validity of this point is difficult to check due to the platform's choice not to publish any actual calculations for fear of people trying to cheat its system.
“What we try and do with a view is have it encode for your intent of watching that thing, so that creators feel like that view has some meaningful threshold that the person decided to watch,” Sherman says. “It doesn't mean it's their favorite video ever, it just means that they are deliberately watching it.”
To determine viewer intent, YouTube’s system likely takes into account watch times, re-watches, likes, shares and comments -- how much a user engages with the content.
Sherman says creators should think less about what time stamp the algorithm favors and more about the quality of their content, or how long it takes to tell their story. However, he says, Shorts will remain focused on videos that are a minute or less.
In terms of an ideal time of day to post, Sherman says that aside from breaking news, creators should not worry about when they post as much as what they post.
For creators who feel that their Shorts gain traction and then plateau, Sherman explains the part of the algorithm focused on finding an audience for creators. “Sometimes those algorithms will go and effectively find a seed audience -- find a set of people that may enjoy your video. And depending on how that goes, it may get a lot more traffic or it may taper off,” he says.
While hashtags are not necessary for Shorts, Sherman says creators may find them helpful if they are associated with a real-world event happening, for example, or specific topics that may help interested audiences find their videos.
Right now, Shorts is the fastest-growing content type on YouTube -- delivering over 50 billion views in the app per day.
In the near future, Sherman says, the product will integrate artificial intelligence (AI) elements to further help brands cultivate broader awareness and perception.