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YouTube Shorts growth shortcuts and secrets

The Shortcut to YouTube Shorts: Is content repurposing enough?

Skip the mistakes and grow with YouTube Shorts fast and easy.

If you think you don’t have time for YouTube Shorts, this is for you. 

In the next 10 minutes, I’m going to tell you exactly why YouTube Shorts are worth your time. I’ll bring it all together at the end with a micro-dissection of a YouTube channel I launched just 14 days ago that has already passed 22 hours of watch time and 4k views – all with less than 20 minutes of effort.

Stream This YouTube Shorts Guide:

YouTube Timestamps:
0:00 What will this episode teach me?
0:31 Benefits of Repurposing Content for YouTube Shorts
1:27 Best Practices for High-Performing YouTube Shorts
4:15 YouTube Short Titles vs. Regular Video Titles
5:53 YouTube Shorts Descriptions and Tags
7:02 Effortlessly Repurpose Content for YouTube Shorts
8:11 Myths and Maximizing Reach
10:01 Micro Case Study on New Channel Growth with YouTube Shorts

Benefits of Repurposing Content for YouTube Shorts

So why are Shorts worth it, even if you already have regular videos on your YouTube channel? The answer is simple: it’s a different means of discovery and reach. With over 2 billion monthly active users, YouTube is the second-largest search engine in the world. The Shorts format is a pathway to tap into this audience.

Another benefit of YouTube Shorts is that they are quick and easy to create. You can use existing content, such as blog posts, videos, or podcasts, and turn it into a short, 15-second clip that’s optimized for the YouTube Shorts feed. There’s no expectation of cinematic, high-value production in the YouTube Shorts world, so there’s no barrier to entry.

And, if you’re having analysis paralysis about the evolution of AI, YouTube Shorts is a great medium for personifying your brand. Video content can also greatly help you boost your visibility in local SERPs.

Best Practices for High-Performing YouTube Shorts

So what are the best practices for creating high-performing Shorts? First and foremost, let’s talk about length and duration.  The ideal length is around 15 seconds, but they can be up to 60 seconds long.  I find that YouTube can actually be finicky about uploading clips longer than 58 seconds, as it tries to convert them to regular video uploads.  Plus, if you plan to add music to your Shorts using YouTube’s library, the duration of some licensed audio is limited to 30 seconds; the rest of your Short after that point will not have the added music. Since TikTok and Instagram offer up to 1-minute in duration for almost all licensed music, just be aware that something that’s 60 seconds on those platforms might end up being limited to 30-seconds on YouTube. In November of 2022, YouTube has said they are working on increasing their usage limit for licensed tracks to match what competitor platforms offer.

One last thing to remember when choosing a length for your shorts is that people browsing shorts are looking for short, bite-sized clips.  It’s less likely someone will skip a shorter clip, and if your content loops, you get a view for each play.

Visuals are also important. Make sure your Shorts are visually engaging and use bold, eye-catching graphics, texts, and animations to grab the viewer’s attention. Whether you want to record a video, use B-roll, or use texts and transitions – make sure you create movement.  

Music Don’t forget about a backing track! Choose a background music track that’s upbeat, energetic, and fits the mood of your short, especially if your video has no audio of its own.  Another thing worth noting is that if you are making a 9:16 video to use on multiple platforms and plan to put a song in the background, it’s a best practice to export your video without the backing track, then add the backing track through each platform as you upload it.  YouTube is strict with licensing and usage rights. And because Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube Shorts all have certain visibility boosts associated with trending audio, there’s no reason not to add the songs directly from their libraries.

Why YouTube Short Titles are Different Than Regular Video Titles

Keep it Short and Sweet: Shorts get less space in search results and suggestions than regular videos, and only 4-6 words of your Short’s title will display. Additionally, more than half of Shorts plays come from auto-play, which means your video will come up after another short has ended.  This person didn’t see your short in a feed and decide to click it, but now that it’s playing, they will still be able to see your title in the bottom lefthand side of the screen with your channel picture. The full title will be visible here.

Be Creative: Titles that are creative, attention-grabbing, and memorable will help you stand out from the crowd and drive more engagement. But what’s unique about shorts is that your titles don’t just catch attention to get people to click through; in many cases, your title will be what makes someone decide to watch your short or swipe past it. Use humor, puns, and curiosity to win attention and prevent a viewer from swiping away before they gave your Short a chance.

Make it Actionable: Because titles are less about click-through rates and more about winning engagement once a viewer has stumbled upon your short, use your title to call for action.  For example, you could say “Double tap your favorite choice” or “Tag a friend who needs this in their life.” 

YouTube Shorts Titles for engagement CTA
See the insights in the case study below about why a title might best be used as a CTA, rather than a search or CTR hook.

Hashtags are allowed in the title of your short, so consider using them to reach a wider audience. 

YouTube Shorts Descriptions and Tags

YouTube Shorts Descriptions and Tags play an important role in helping your Shorts reach the right audience and increase their visibility. However, they can only be added through the YouTube Studio app or on a desktop after uploading the short on mobile.

Descriptions give you the opportunity to provide additional context and information about your Shorts. This is a great place to include relevant keywords that describe what your Shorts is about, as well as any links or calls to action.

Tags, on the other hand, help categorize your Shorts and make it easier for users to discover them through relevant search results. When selecting tags, be sure to choose words and phrases that accurately describe the content of your Shorts and align with your target audience.

It’s important to note that YouTube Studio or desktop access is necessary to add Descriptions and Tags, as they cannot be added directly from the mobile app.

By adding these details, you can increase the chances of your Shorts reaching the right audience and getting the visibility they deserve.

Effortlessly Repurpose Content for YouTube Shorts

Creating new content for Shorts can be time-consuming, and you don’t have to do it. Utilize tools like Canva and InShot and CapCut to convert existing content into 9:16 videos quickly. If you want a shortcut, use TikTok or Instagram’s in-app editor to create videos, and then download and upload them to YouTube. However, keep in mind that your video may have a watermark from the other platform and the quality may be reduced. Additionally, ensure that you are not using any licensed music in your export as it can result in copyright issues. Note that while Instagram allows you to download a version of your Reel without music, exports from TikTok will include any music you added.

If you’re not sure how to cut a very short tip from a long-form piece of content, you can also use Shorts as a teaser: Pull a clip that teases a question, and direct viewers to check the description to watch the full video on your channel.  Using Shorts in this way is a great way to promote podcasts, deep dives, and longer interviews, and all it takes is clipping a snippet from the content you’ve already produced in full.

Maximizing Reach through Consistently Repurposing Content

Because Shorts are highly likely to reach users that are not subscribed to your channel, you will likely see some volatility in engagements.  You should also keep in mind that the same video can perform differently on different platforms. For example, the same video may perform better on Reels versus TikToks versus Shorts. Repurposing your content to each platform is like having a full quiver of arrows, giving you a chance to succeed on any one of the platforms with any piece of content.

Common myths and FYIs for YouTube Shorts

  1. You do NOT need to have a separate channel for YouTube Shorts *unless* your Shorts content is meant for a different audience than your long-form content.
  2. Unlike TikTok, the quantity of Shorts uploads does not give you preferential weight in content discovery.
  3. What matters is whether people watch or skip your Shorts when they do see them (This is why your title text is so important, because it’s really the only thing people can see while watching your Short!)
  4. YouTube has said that their algorithm will not recommend your long-form content just because someone watched a Short; however, Shorts are a powerful way to reach new potential subscribers and remind existing subscribers of long-form content they might have missed.

Micro-Case Study: Rapid Growth on a Brand New YouTube Channel with Shorts

To wrap up, let’s dissect real insights from a real channel that achieved impressive results with just four Shorts. In just 13 days, this channel was able to grow its audience, generating 2.5k views and 18 hours of watch time, along with 10 new subscribers. Only 4 shorts were uploaded, and 2 never got descriptions or tags – they only had titles.  Only one video was longer than 30 seconds. The content was shocking gaming news or memes that paired gaming references with current events. This content played on curiosity and trending topics.  

Take a look at the engagement by Day 14 on this brand new channel:

Insights for viral YouTube Shorts on a brand new channel day 13 and day 14 compared
4k views on a brand new channel with YouTube Shorts
Multiple plays on youtube shorts great engagement
Great engagement on YouTube shorts from multiple plays, with an average percentage viewed greater than 100%.
How users found this content SHORTS FEED
Most YouTube Shorts views came from the Shorts Feed, NOT search.

It took more time to set the channel up than it did to get these 4 videos uploaded. Seriously, I spent 5 minutes or less uploading each of these 4 videos, and I only did it at all because it barely took any time at all. I’m so glad I did. 

This micro-case study shows the potential for rapid growth that can be achieved by casually repurposing content to Shorts and other 16:9 platforms. Don’t underestimate its power.

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And that’s a wrap for this Brand Hack!  I hope you found this information on Shortcuts to YouTube Shorts helpful AND motivating. There’s so much momentum in the content you’ve already created, and a little consistency in repurposing it can take you miles.

If you’d like to catch up with other Brand Hacks from this week, such as my “Steal This! Superbowl Sales Pitches” and thoughts on Google’s next move in AI, make sure you’re connected with the Brand Hacking newsletter on LinkedIn or with our Facebook Group. As always, thanks for tuning in, and happy brand hacking!

I am excited to cover more content, and you can help me prioritize what tips and tricks to dive into next by commenting below.

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