The Most Popular Social Media Apps for Teens

The Most Popular Social Media Apps for Teens

Social media

How are teens spending their time on social media these days? This is an important question for advertisers. That’s because teens spend money. They talk about their favorite brands with each other. Their preferences influence the popular cultural trends that advertisers need to understand in order to stay relevant. And if advertisers play their cards right, they can, in turn, influence teen behavior.

A new survey of Americans aged 13-17 from Pew Research Center reports some eye-opening findings about where and how teens are spending their time online. Key findings:

  • YouTube reigns. 95 percent of teens use YouTube, followed by TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook.

Social Media Apps

  • Only 32 percent use Facebook, compared to 71 percent in 2014-15. Not only is there a smaller share of teenage Facebook users than there was in 2014-15, teens who do use Facebook are also relatively less frequent users of the platform compared to the other platforms covered in this survey. Just 7 percent of teen Facebook users say they are on the site or app almost constantly (representing 2 percent of all teens). Still, about six-in-ten teen Facebook users (57 percent) visit the platform daily.

Leading Social Sites

  • Many teens are always on. 46 percent of teens say they’re on the internet “almost constantly,” up from 24 percent in 2014-2015.  Roughy one in five teens are almost constantly on YouTube, which leads all platforms.

Social Media Usage

  • The vast majority of teens have access to digital devices, such as smartphones (95 percent), desktop or laptop computers (90 percent) and gaming consoles (80 percent). Since 2014-15, there has been a 22 percentage point rise in the share of teens who report having access to a smartphone (95 percent now and 73 percent then). While teens’ access to smartphones has increased over roughly the past eight years, their access to other digital technologies, such as desktop or laptop computers or gaming consoles, has remained statistically unchanged.
  • More affluent teens are particularly likely to have access to all three devices. Fully 76 percent of teens that live in households that make at least $75,000 a year say they have or have access to a smartphone, a gaming console and a desktop or laptop computer, compared with smaller shares of teens from households that make less than $30,000 or teens from households making $30,000 to $74,999 a year who say they have access to all three (60 percent and 69 percent of teens, respectively).
  • U.S. teens living in households that make $75,000 or more annually are 12 points more likely to have access to gaming consoles and 15 points more likely to have access to a desktop or laptop computer than teens from households with incomes under $30,000.
  • Habits vary by demographic. Teen boys are more likely than teen girls to say they use YouTube, Twitch and Reddit. Teen girls are more likely than teen boys to use TikTok, Instagram and Snapchat. Higher shares of Black and Hispanic teens report using TikTok, Instagram, Twitter and WhatsApp compared with white teens.

Implications for Brands

  • Short-form content on TikTok is popular, but so is longer-form content on YouTube. Within just a few years, TikTok has famously rocketed to popularity by featuring videos that are about 30 seconds in length (often shorter). But YouTube’s popularity demonstrates that teens also like more in-depth video content, as Mashable points out. Longer-form content lends itself to content marketing, such as “how to” topics and podcasts, as noted here. On the other hand, shorter-form TikTok videos lend themselves to catchy, engaging micro-moments. To use a television analogy, TikTok is the place for 30-second spots, and YouTube for advertorials. As one influencer on LinkedIn wrote, “If digital media is hunger, TikTok feels like McDonalds, and YouTube feels like [insert fairly decent quality restaurant]. TikTok gives you dopamine hits. It’s addicting, you can become consumed by it, but it doesn’t mean you’re satisfied with the quality. Each swipe is, ‘okay, now what’s next.’ Before you know it, it’s an hour. YouTube, even with most videos watched being through recommendations, provides a deeper connection with the viewer. If you watch a video for >1min, you’re truly invested. This also means that creators will build more meaningful viewer connections through YouTube. All data shows that Gen Z appreciates the quality and connections of YouTube.”
  • Teens are not all the same. Variances exist by income level and demographic, as noted above. It’s important to understand the differences depending on your audience. In addition to the statistics cited above, we also noticed the popularity of gaming consoles among more affluent teens. And overall, Hispanic (47 percent) and Black teens (45 percent) are more likely than white teens (26 percent) to say they use at least one of the five most popular social media online platforms almost constantly. And teen girls are most likely to be social media loyal than teen boys: teen girls are more likely than teen boys to express it would be difficult to give up social media (58 percent versus 49 percent). All of these nuances influence any company that wants to launch a credible multi-cultural marketing strategy.
  • Facebook still matters, but Instagram does even more. Even though it’s less popular among teens than it was in 2014-15, it’s still more popular with teens than Twitter, Twitch, WhatsApp, Reddit, and Tumblr. As teens get older, they may very well spend more time on Facebook. And Facebook the platform still enjoys widespread usage among adults, as seen in other recent Center studies. However, it’s clear that among Meta’s brands, Instagram is more important for reaching teens, especially as Instagram morphs into a social selling site.

Contact True Interactive

We deliver results for clients across all ad formats, including social mediavideo, and mobile. To learn how we can help you, contact us.

Photo by Rami Al-zayat on Unsplash

How Brands Are Using YouTube Shorts

How Brands Are Using YouTube Shorts

YouTube

The rise of TikTok is one of the most phenomenal stories in the digital world. Since launching globally in 2018 through a merger with Musical.ly, TikTok has become a multi-billion-dollar advertising machine. TikTok has more than 1 billion members, has surpassed Snapchat to become the most popular app with teens, and is on course to earn more than $11 billion in ad revenue in 2022.

TikTok has succeeded by becoming the preferred app for short-form videos. Although users can post videos that are as lengthy as 10 minutes, the ideal TikTok video is about 30 seconds long. Some of the most popular TikTok videos of all time, racking up billions of views, are blink-and-you’ll-miss-them short.  As a result of TikTok’s popularity, brands are spending more money advertising on the app, which is a threat to more established apps such as YouTube and Instagram.

Because of TikTok’s popularity, YouTube and Instagram have responded in kind by launching short-form video features. For example, in 2021, YouTube rolled out Shorts globally after a more limited launch in India in 2020. Although YouTube Shorts is not yet a source of meaningful advertising revenue for YouTube, it is gaining traction with brands.

What Is the YouTube Shorts Feature?

Shorts is basically a TikTok copycat. Using the YouTube app, people can quickly and easily create short videos of up to 15 seconds. The videos are created on mobile devices and viewed, in portrait orientation, on mobile devices. And once you open one short, you essentially access the motherlode in that videos start playing one after the other. Just swipe vertically to get from one to the next.

Shorts, much like TikTok, provides editing tools you can use to flex creative muscle. Users can string clips together, adjust playback speed, and add music and text. And as YouTube has blogged, creators can play off of existing content: “[Y]ou can give your own creative spin on the content you love to watch on YouTube and help find it a new audience—whether it’s reacting to your favorite jokes, trying your hand at a creator’s latest recipe, or re-enacting comedic skits.” (Notably, creators are in control of their material; they can opt out of having their long-form videos remixed in this way.)

According to YouTube, more than 1.5 billion people use Shorts – impressive numbers that actually surpass TikTok’s user base. It was only a matter of time before YouTube made it possible for brands to get involved creating their own Shorts. And they are.

How Are Brands Using YouTube Shorts?

As reported in The Wall Street Journal, brands are increasingly experimenting with ways to engage with users on Shorts. For example:

  • Kitchen and home marketplace Food52 is posting Shorts that offer sneak peeks at its longer-form content on the traditional version of YouTube, as well as repurposing some recipe videos.
  • Drupely’s olive-oil brand Graza says it is creating user engagement by posting how-to cooking and recipe content. According to Graza, videos focused solely on Graza products do better on TikTok than on Shorts.
  • Glossier sold products through Shorts in June by creating a challenge for users to try. Glossier gave about a hundred influencers a new pencil eyeliner and encouraged them to create Shorts videos with the hashtag #WrittenInGlossier in the caption. People who tapped the hashtag were brought to the Glossier website. There, they could buy the eyeliner and were asked to recreate a look as part of the challenge. Any Shorts video that included the hashtag was shoppable.
  • Danessa Myricks Beauty used a short to promote its launch in Sephora. The Short built excitement for the launch by featuring the sending off a package of its product to be sent to Sephora stores.
  • NBC’s The Voice relied on Shorts to feature hosts for its most recent season. The ad included a banner at the end with clear directions for viewers on when and where to watch the show.

This is all encouraging for Shorts, but the feature is not yet a revenue generator, and YouTube is under pressure to staunch the flow of ad dollars to TikTok. On top of that, Instagram is turning up the heat with its own TikTok challenger, Reels.

Even so, YouTube is striking a note of optimism.

Philipp Schindler, senior vice president and chief business officer at Google, said during second-quarter earnings call in July. “…[E]arly results in Shorts monetization are also encouraging, and we’re excited about the opportunities here.”

It’s early days for Shorts and brands. Meanwhile, Shorts has one big advantage over TikTok: integration with YouTube, which has 2.6 billion active users. This is important because YouTube can promote Shorts to the built-in user base, and brands can connect Shorts content to their already established YouTube presence.

What Brands Should Do

  • Know your audience. YouTube appeals to the 15-25-year-old demographic. It is also very popular among 26-35-year-olds. TikTok skews younger: it is most attractive to 16-24 year-olds.
  • Be ready to capitalize on Shorts ad formats when they become available widely. For instance, brands will be able to connect their product feeds to their campaigns and make video ads on YouTube Shorts more shoppable.
  • Understand how to integrate Shorts ad formats into a broader YouTube advertising strategy that includes skippable video ads, bumper ads, overlay ads, and others.

Contact True Interactive

We deliver results for clients across all ad formats, including video and mobile. To learn how we can help you, contact us.

Celebrating 15 Years of Growth at True Interactive

Celebrating 15 Years of Growth at True Interactive

Advertising

2022 marks a big milestone: True Interactive celebrates our 15th birthday. We’re now old enough for a learner’s permit to drive a car in Illinois.

Our story, and the story of the internet, has been shaped enormously by the actions of a few influential companies:

  • Google organized the world’s information online and taught everyone how to find it.
  • Meta connected people through social media.
  • Thanks to Apple, we took the internet with us on our mobile phones.
  • YouTube changed how we consume content with video.
  • Amazon made the world comfortable conducting commerce online.

These and a handful of other companies rewrote the rules for how businesses and people discover each other and build relationships.

Online advertising is at the center of this change. At True Interactive, we are grateful to the clients who have trusted us to help them figure out how to succeed in the digital age, and to our own people who’ve brought to our client relationships a spirit of hard work, collaboration, transparency, and a commitment to results. Businesses like to say that their people are their strongest assets, but people are more than that: they form our culture. Both the people who work for us and the people who work with us.

And we are proud of that culture. The magic that happens when great people and clients collaborate has produced remarkable results, such as triple-digit returns on ad spend and a dramatic reduction in costs. (You can read more about our work here.) And from our experiences, we’ve developed services ranging from search engine marketing to social media advertising that create a foundation for our team to innovate.

The next 15 years will evolve differently than the last. We’re probably nearing the end of an era when single companies could wield such enormous impact. The industry has become far too diversified for one business to change consumer behavior in far-reaching ways as Google did with its founding in 1998. And the fast-moving digital world still has few barriers to entry, which opens up the playing field.

Consider TikTok, which didn’t even exist until 2016 and has now challenged YouTube’s dominance with inventive short-form video. Or Snapchat, which keeps nudging the marketing world to embrace augmented reality even though its main rivals such as Meta had a long head start. The connected TV space still feels wide open.

And then there’s the metaverse. It’s just too vast and far-reaching for any single company to dominate. In fact, the fundamental notion of the metaverse is predicated upon the development of a decentralized web, Web 3.0. We’re only six months into 2022, and we’ve already seen just how much of a free-for-all that this emerging world feels like right now. Some of the building blocks of the metaverse, such as cryptocurrencies and nonfungible tokens (NFTs), sounded so fresh and exciting at the beginning of the year. Now businesses and people everywhere are learning (sometimes the hard way) how far those technologies still have to go before they redefine the landscape the way search, mobile computing, and video did.

We’re as bullish on emerging technologies and forms of computing as we were 15 years ago when we figured out how to help businesses build powerful brands even as human beings were learning how to search online. We can promise you that regardless of how the digital world evolves, we will always:

  • Not succumb to hype. We’re on the forefront of change, but everything we need to do must be grounded in reality, not wild speculation.
  • Deliver measurable results. If we can’t deliver measurable value, we won’t do it.
  • Be totally transparent. Our clients know what they’re getting from us. And they know how we deliver value. Trust is a wonderful thing. It must be earned through openness.

What excites us most? The unknown. The next wave of change that no one sees coming. The unknown creates a level playing field. The unknown is a vast well of opportunity. Much of the digital world was unknown when we were founded, and look where we are now thanks to our people and our clients. Whatever happens next, our culture of hard work, collaboration, transparency, and commitment to delivering results will ensure that we thrive. Together.

Happy 15, everyone! 

— Kurt Anagnostopoulos and Mark Smith

Why Google Brought Advertising to YouTube Shorts

Why Google Brought Advertising to YouTube Shorts

Google YouTube

During the past several weeks, the marketing world has been buzzing about streaming companies such as Disney+ and Netflix embracing advertising. And this conversation is more than justified. Both businesses offer advertisers a tremendous inventory for creating highly relevant advertising content to a global streaming audience that continues to grow based on industry research. As we mentioned recently in a blog post, although we don’t yet know what kinds of ad units Disney+ and Netflix will offer, they can certainly draw upon plenty of examples. One of them is YouTube.

YouTube Advertising

YouTube has offered ad units for years. And although the growth of YouTube’s ad revenues has not delivered on analysts’ expectations lately, the app remains an important part of Google’s growth. YouTube’s worldwide advertising revenues amounted to $6.9 billion in the first quarter of 2022, representing a 14 percent year-over-year increase. YouTube is certainly threatened by the rise of TikTok, but the app is still a juggernaut, and one of the reasons for that is YouTube’s ability to offer a diversified slate of ad units.

The most casual users of YouTube are familiar with some of YouTube’s popular ad units such as skippable video ads (which allow viewers to skip ads after 5 seconds). Over the years, YouTube has built on this foundation of short-form ad units with new products. For example, in 2019, YouTube unveiled a product called Bumper Machine, which makes it easier for businesses to create six-second video ads, or bumpers.

YouTube has also embraced connected TV with the Masthead ad format for TV. This allows brands to connect with consumers the instant users access the YouTube app on their televisions. The Masthead format is a response to the fact that while consumers aren’t watching as much linear TV, they are still using their televisions as a tool for experiencing streaming platforms like YouTube. In other words, YouTube understands viewing trends, and is staying nimble in its bid to connect with advertisers in an informed way.

At Google’s 2022 Marketing Live event, the company also rolled out more ad products. For example, Google is starting to offer ads in YouTube Shorts around the world after experimenting with ads in YouTube Shorts since 2021.

With YouTube Shorts, people can quickly and easily create short videos of up to 15 seconds, similar to how TikTok and Instagram Reels are used. The videos are created on mobile devices and viewed, in portrait orientation, on mobile devices. And once a person opens one Short, they get access to tons more of them (again, think TikTok or Reels playing one after another.) According to Google, YouTube Shorts now averages over 30 billion daily views (four times as many as a year ago).

 YouTube Shorts

Shorts, much like TikTok, provides editing tools for people to create slick, high-concept content. And now brands can get in on the action because their Video action campaigns and App campaigns will automatically scale to YouTube Shorts.

 Google said that later in 2022:

  • Brands will also be able to connect their product feeds to their campaigns and to make their video ads on YouTube Shorts more shoppable.
  • Google is developing a long-term YouTube Shorts monetization solution for our creators, which Google will discuss soon.

This all sounds like a wise move on Google’s part. Google needs YouTube Shorts to succeed to thwart TikTok. And making Shorts ads shoppable capitalizes on the social commerce boom.

YouTube Shorts

Moreover, the rise of the creator economy has generated a new segment of influencer creators. As I blogged in January, the creator economy will become even more powerful. That’s because collaboration networks are proliferating. These networks give creators an all-in-one platform to create communities and build influence. In addition, gaming sites such as Roblox and Twitch offer creators opportunities to monetize their work with potential partnerships with brands, and crypto currency sites such as Rally.io make it possible for creators to mint their own currency. The big social networks such as Meta are responding by making themselves more attractive to creators. YouTube wants to monetize this activity and not lose out to its rivals.

What Advertisers Should Do

It’s important that advertisers say abreast of these developments, and if you work with an agency partner, collaborate with them closely on a way forward. (This is what our clients do with True Interactive.)

Not every video ad unit may be relevant to you. Assess the video ad units proliferating – whether from YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and other apps – against your audience and business objectives. And think of them strategically. For instance, recently, one of our clients experienced a challenge: its share of branded search was dropping. The client, a photo curating and sharing company, naturally wanted to improve. So, we launched a video-based awareness campaign that spanned display, YouTube, Google Display Network, connected TV, Yahoo Online Video, Facebook, and Yahoo Display. Our focus: mobile and connected TV. We also ensured that YouTube ads could target connected TV screens.

As a result, our client enjoyed significant improvements in both awareness and also revenue – showing how powerful video can be as a direct-response format in addition to brand awareness. Read more about this case study here.

Contact True Interactive

We deliver results for clients across all ad formats, including video and mobile. To learn how we can help you, contact us.

How to Market to Gen X

How to Market to Gen X

Advertising Branding

Generation X is often overlooked as businesses focus on the surging Millennial and Gen Z populations. Moreover, squeezed as it is between two massive generations — Boomers and Millennials — Gen X has sometimes been mistakenly viewed as being small in size, ergo less powerful. But Gen X still comprises a large segment of the population, and Gen Xers possess spending power. What sets them apart from other generations, and how should brands market to them online?

Who Is Gen X?

The fourth-largest U.S. generation behind Millennials, Baby Boomers, and Gen Z, Gen X encompasses Americans born between the mid-1960s and 1980. And Gen X is projected to surpass Baby Boomers in size by 2028.

What Are Some Notable Characteristics of Gen X?

Gen Xers have a reputation for being hard to pin down. This is perhaps because there’s a split in the generation, with older Gen Xers possessing some of the characteristics of their Baby Boomer forebears (digitally savvy, but not born into digital the way subsequent generations have been), and younger members of Gen X displaying Millennial tendencies (their mobile usage is similar to Millennials, for example). Moreover, this is a generation that prides itself on individuality — which can make it challenging for brands hoping to hone in on a “type.” But common denominators still exist across the generation, namely:

  • Reliance on digital. Even after seeing a television commercial or print ad, Gen Xers tend to turn to the internet to perform further research. And they love social media; a whopping 95 percent of this generation engages with Facebook.
  • Brand loyalty. Small Biz Technology notes that Gen Xers are likely to spend more on brands that “give back.” And according to eMarketer, when Gen Xers develop an affinity for a product, they are willing to pay a premium.

How Should Brands Market to Gen X?

What is the best way for brands to reach out to Gen X? We recommend that you:

  • Understand where they live online — and meet them there. As noted above, Facebook is popular with Gen X. So is YouTube. Paid advertising works, of course. But brands might also create content that draw Gen Xers in with educational information or even nostalgia  — because every generation loves a little throwback. In the case of Gen X, there’s a rich vein to mine: the 1970s, with all the possibilities that era represents in terms of pop culture, music, fashion, and more.
  • Offer rewards, coupons, and loyalty programs. This is a generation that remembers the Great Recession, and doesn’t have faith that Social Security will be around when they retire. And as noted earlier, they shoulder some debt. Reach out with opportunities to save, and this generation will listen.
  • Do good. As noted above, Gen X responds to brands that demonstrate a commitment to society or the environment.
  • Understand that for Gen Xers, status is less important. This is a generational feature that Ford Motor Company figured out years ago. As far back as 2016, Omar Odeh, a Ford Explorer marketing manager, observed to Forbes, “[Gen Xers are] less likely to have to put their wealth on status. They don’t necessarily have to buy that premium brand. They will look at value for money and performance.”
  • Think mobile. According to eMarketer, 88.5 percent of this generation use smartphones. Reach out to this group through mobile devices, and make sure your website is mobile-friendly.
  • Keep communications short and to the point. Immersed in raising kids and building careers, this generation puts a value on time — and has little patience for perceived time-wasters.
  • Give them some love. According to Big Commerce, 54 percent of Gen Xers “are frustrated that brands constantly ignore them.”

Contact True Interactive

How can your brand resonate with Gen X, that most elusive of generations? Contact us. We can help.

Photo by Eric Nopanen on Unsplash

Why the Google Ad Juggernaut Is Back

Why the Google Ad Juggernaut Is Back

Google

Google’s advertising business has come roaring back. In 2020, Google found itself to be in the unusual position of seeing a downturn in its advertising revenue for the first time in 29 years. That’s because a pullback in ad spending among Google’s clients, many of whom come from a travel/hospitality industry ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, hurt Google even as ad competitors Amazon and Facebook were reaping a windfall. But Google’s recent financial results show that the downturn was temporary, and Google will continue to exert an enormous influence on the advertising world.

Recently, Google’s parent firm Alphabet announced quarterly earnings that exceeded investors’ expectations. Although the growth of Google’s cloud computing business had a lot to do with Alphabet’s success, the rebound of Google advertising played a big role, too. Google’s advertising revenue rose to $44.68 billion for the first quarter of 2021, up from $33.76 billion the year before, prompting CNBC to note that the ad revenue spike was the fastest annualized growth rate in at least four years. So, what can we conclude form the turnaround?:

  • Google is benefitting from the popularity of video. YouTube earned $6 billion in revenue for the quarter, increasing 49 percent from a year earlier. Earlier in 2021, we predicted a surge in online video consumption, a reality that has been borne out during the pandemic. To be sure, online video is much bigger than YouTube, as the success of TikTok demonstrates. But as Google reported later in 2020, during the pandemic, people were turning to video more as a learning tool when in-person learning options were shut down, which benefits YouTube given the amount of instructional content that exists there. The only question that remains now is whether the popularity of online video, and, by extension, YouTube, will remain as strong in a post-pandemic world.
  • Google’s Knowledge Graph is becoming more powerful. The Google Knowledge Graph consists of all the sources of information that Google draws upon to provide search results to queries. It’s a wonky concept that people in the search engine optimization (SEO) industry follow closely. But the Knowledge Graph applies to advertising, too. When Google provides answers to searches such as “Where can I find a plumber near me?” or “Where can I find Anime T shirts?” Google draws upon sources such as Google Maps, Snippets, and a company’s Google My Business (GMB) listings (among other sources) to share information about relevant businesses. Well, guess what? Google is doing such an effective job tapping into its Knowledge Graph to serve up answers on search engine results pages (SERPs) that people are finding answers to what they need on Google without needing to click anywhere else. More eyeballs on Google SERPs means that Google can deliver a larger audience to advertisers through Google Search. As Google becomes an even stronger all-purpose search tool (hard to believe given Google’s dominance in search already), the company becomes even more valuable to advertisers.
  • Google is creating its own future. As widely reported, Google has intensified its war against third-party cookies that are essential for businesses to deliver ads based on a person’s browsing behavior across the web. As Google forces the demise of third-party cookies, advertisers will need to tap into businesses that possesses first-party data (such as Amazon) in order to continue to deliver effective personalized ads. And as it turns out, Google is sitting on a lot of first-party data through that Knowledge Graph I mentioned. When people use Google Maps, YouTube, and other Google properties, they give Google a ton of information about their search and purchase habits, which Google uses to create better ad products. According to Brendan Eich, cofounder and CEO of the privacy-focused browser company Brave, “The reality is that Google already has first-party access to nearly every site—via Google Analytics, ad words, Google Tag Manager, Google Maps, etc.—and that its users are being data mined for profit.”

All of this is not to say that businesses need to dial up their advertising on Google. We’ve always recommended that advertisers go where their audience is, period. At the same time, Google has demonstrated the wisdom of businesses taking the long view with their advertising. The Big Tech ad platforms – Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft – have carved out a powerful space in the advertising world. Those companies are all big targets for critics, which has resulted in antitrust action and negative PR. But the negative PR can lead a business around by the nose, too, resulting in short-sighted thinking. The ad giants are not going away. If they’re important to your business – and I suspect they are if you’ve read this far into my post – don’t pump on the brakes in 2021.

Contact True Interactive

To succeed with online advertising, contact True Interactive. Read about some of our client work here.

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Why YouTube Shorts Matters to Brands

Why YouTube Shorts Matters to Brands

YouTube

TikTok has another challenger. As we’ve blogged, apps like Snapchat are creating their own short-video-making platforms in a bid to carve out space in an increasingly crowded field. Now Google’s YouTube has joined the party with YouTube Shorts. Read on to learn more about Shorts and what they bring to the table—for users, and for brands.

What Are YouTube Shorts, and How Do They Stand Out?

If you are familiar with TikTok or Instagram Reels, you’ll get the basic premise of YouTube Shorts: using the YouTube app, people can quickly and easily create short videos of up to 15 seconds. The videos are created on mobile devices and viewed, in portrait orientation, on mobile devices. And once you open one short, you essentially access the motherlode in that videos start playing one after the other. Just swipe vertically to get from one to the next.

Shorts, much like TikTok, provides editing tools you can use to flex creative muscle. Users can string clips together. Adjust playback speed. Add music and text. And as YouTube has blogged, creators can play off of existing content: “[Y]ou can give your own creative spin on the content you love to watch on YouTube and help find it a new audience—whether it’s reacting to your favorite jokes, trying your hand at a creator’s latest recipe, or re-enacting comedic skits.” (Notably, creators are in control of their material; they can opt out of having their long-form videos remixed in this way.)

Shorts comes to the U.S. in beta after a beta launch in India last fall. The platform enjoyed success in India, finding a comfortable niche in the wake of the TikTok ban there. Now Shorts brings its opportunities to the States.

Why Did YouTube Launch Shorts?

Shorts is YouTube’s response to the huge popularity of short-form video. Who wouldn’t want in on that action? But Shorts is also meant to be the answer to a problem faced by new creators: it’s hard to break into the video-making world. According to YouTube, “Every year, increasing numbers of people come to YouTube to launch their own channel. But we know there’s still a huge amount of people who find the bar for creation too high. That’s why we’re working on Shorts, our new short-form video tool that lets creators and artists shoot snappy videos with nothing but their mobile phones.”

Think of it as users being able to dip a toe in creative waters without having to film and edit a full video. And because Shorts are counted like regular video views, creators hoping to make money from YouTube by getting accepted into the YouTube Partner Program (YPP) can use Shorts to do so. Users must accrue 4,000 valid public watch hours in the previous 12 months to quality for YPP, and Shorts are an accessible way to meet that threshold. YouTube has also blogged that they are taking a “fresh look at what it means to monetize YouTube Shorts and reward creators for their content,” hinting at additional opportunities to come.

Why Do YouTube Shorts Matter to Brands?

The opportunity YouTube Shorts represents for creators is good news for brands, too. Why? For one thing, creators are potentially powerful sources of great user-generated content that can benefit brands – for a recent example, consider the incredible visibility that skateboarder Nathan Apodaca created for Ocean Spray and Fleetwood Mac with a TikTok video.

It’s worth mentioning that apps like YouTube Shorts are of particular interest if your target market is Gen Z or Millennials. As noted by iabuk.com last fall, short-form video is surging in popularity, particularly with these generations.

What Brands Should Do

  • Stay abreast of new apps like YouTube Shorts. Knowing what’s out there informs decision-making about where and how you want to make your brand known.
  • Understand how your target audience communicates. Are you courting Gen Z or Millennials? Go where they are. And as noted above, platforms for short-form video are a logical place to be.
  • Consider whether creating your own shorts makes sense. As Social Media Examiner notes, brands that create their own Shorts stand to get some attention: “for businesses, the strategy right now with Shorts is to get exposure and hopefully subscribers to your channel so people will see some of your content outside of the short shelf.” Meanwhile, this post from HubSpot will help you think through how to get started with YouTube Shorts.
  • Look at the big picture: YouTube Shorts is yet another example of the proliferation of short-form video. If you have not done so already, adapt your video content strategy for both brief snippets (e.g., teaser content) and longer-form content (e.g., educational tutorials).

Contact True Interactive

How can short-form video elevate your brand? Contact us. We can advise.