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Youtube made the decision to add a new baby to the platform: Youtube Shorts.
This new way of making content on Youtube is supposed to give the likes of Instagram Reels and TikTok a run for their money.
This new initiative was a way for Youtube to keep staying relevant.
This is not a bad idea considering the popularity that platforms like TikTok are gaining.
With this new role-out, there are three possibilities:
- Have a dedicated shorts channel.
- Have a mixed channel with both youtube shorts and longer-form content.
- Have only long-form content and no shorts at all.
The majority of creators have actually chosen to have mixed channels and incorporate both types of content.
However, some creators are finding that shorts may actually be hurting their channels more than helping them.
I did my own testing with my youtube channel and actually found that shorts were killing the results of my long-form videos.
So to help you avoid making my mistakes, and also have higher expectations than you should, I am going to lay out exactly how and why this is happening.
Why are Shorts so popular?
Let’s face it, shorter form videos are gaining a lot of popularity and they are not slowing down anytime soon.
However, we have seen platforms like Vine and Musical.ly come and go.
Not saying that TikTok is going to disappear BUT history does tend to repeat itself. So with that in mind, having a place where both types of content will exist is a very smart move on Youtube’s part.
But let’s be honest, the #1 reason why youtube shorts are so popular is because of TikTok.
Tiktok outranked youtube in 2019 and became the most downloaded app on the app store with 33 million downloads.
With now 2 billion downloads and over 689 million users, it is definitely a force to be reconned with.
Back in September, TikTok officially surpassed YouTube for average watch time in the US and UK. That is pretty crazy considering how short the content tends to be on TikTok.
So of course Youtube had to do something to remain relevant.
Thus Youtube Shorts.
The Beta version of Youtube Shorts was launched last year in September 2020 in India and March 2021 in the US.
In the beginning, shorts were basically just reuploaded TikToks.
Let’s face it, they still are.
Slowly but surely, content creators started to understand that they could just use the platform as another TikTok and that is what shorts have become.
The Youtube Shorts Algorithm Explained
The Youtube Algorithm has always been a mystery and the shorts algorithm is no different.
When Youtube shorts first rolled out, they were a goldmine of views. It looked like every single short was just being pushed out to every user on the platform.
It makes sense that youtube would do this for two reasons:
- Get the viewers interested in shorts in hopes that they will watch them more.
- Give the creators some “easy views” for their shorts in hopes that they will make more.
A few months ago, however, creators noticed that the short goldmine seemed to be over and it was getting a lot harder to get the same amount of views from the shorts shelf.
According to youtube, when your shorts get published, they are first shown to your subscribers. The performance of your shorts will then be based on how your subscribers have reacted to them.
So if your subscribers watch it and engage with it, it will get pushed out more.
So they said.
Why Youtube Shorts May be Killing Your Channel (Case Study)
If you have a DEDICATED shorts channel, meaning your channel is almost all shorts, then this article is not for you because you are not going to face the same issues.
This is for those of us who do mainly long-form content, and happen to upload shorts every now and then.
If you are like me and you have a smaller channel and have not separated your shorts from your long-form content, you might have noticed some changes in views since you started doing shorts.
In my case, I noticed it pretty quickly.
I uploaded 4 shorts on my channel thus far.
The first one didn’t do so well.
The second one was also not my best performing either.
The third one did well for a channel like mine. Over 200 views in 24 hrs, which never happened before.
And then it quickly died.
But I had high hopes for my fourth one. I thought I knew the algorithm a little better. I even did all the SEO work thinking that it would help.
So I uploaded it aaannndd…it BOMBED.
It bombed so bad that I am still recovering from the trauma of how badly it tanked.
So I decided to take a break and go back to my regular long-form content.
You can imagine my surprise when both of my following youtube videos underperformed massively, two weeks in a row! They had never done so badly!
And it was at that moment that I realized that something was not right.
Asking Other Youtubers How Shorts Were Efftecting Their Channels
I decided to take it a step further and go on to my Facebook and Reddit groups and ask other YouTubers if they had noticed that shorts are causing lower views on their long-form content.
And the feedback was mind-blowing!
I wasn’t alone!
the majority said that they saw the same trend on theirs while others said that it was basically hit or miss.
From that point, I went down several Facebook, youtube, and Reddit rabbit holes and saw similar sentiments shared by other smaller YouTubers.
Why Youtube Shorts are Hurting Smaller Channels (My EXACT Theory)
So you may be wondering, why is this happening?
Well, the best explanation I could find after analyzing my data is this:
If you have a short, that outperforms your longer videos, the algorithm will prioritize your shorts. Because it is giving more results, it will in turn suppress your longer videos.
Sounds crazy but it makes total sense!
The algorithm promotes and prefers what gets views.
Now I have a theory so let me lay it out for you:
Let’s say you are a smaller YouTuber and you have maybe 1K subs or less and you publish 4 videos under a 28 day period.
3 of which are longer videos and 1 is a Short.
Now let’s say you got a total of 500 views during that period but 200 of them came from your shorts video.
That means that the shorts feed is now 40% of your total traffic.
The algorithm may now prioritize the shorts feed instead of other places like the home feed or suggested videos.
Meaning if you now post a longer video, it may not get pushed out as much as it should because the focus is shifted to the shorts feed.
Which is literally what happened to me.
If my short had gotten 70 views instead of 200 in the first 24hrs then everything might have been fine.
But because it technically outperformed my other videos, it may have shifted the priority for the algorithm.
This also means that if your shorts are doing just as well as your long-form content, then you may not notice a positive or negative effect on your analytics so you probably have nothing to worry about.
But this theory does explain why some creators can have thousands of views on a single short but then find that their next long-form video, only gets a handful och views.
Are YouTube Shorts Worth It?
Shorts are still worth it if:
- You have a lot of subscribers already (more than 1K)
- You have a very engaging audience
- You are doing a shorts only channel
However, if you have a small channel and want to grow on youtube with longer videos, then you may want to stay away from shorts until your audience grows a little more.
Having shorts brings in a new kind of audience on youtube. An audience that prefers quick and fast-paced videos rather than longer videos.
Ask yourself: Will gaining these subscribers help you in the long run with your overall growth? Will they watch when you upload longer videos? Or will they just stick to the short and sweet?
If you want to try shorts anyways, my advice is to take a good look at how your videos are performing and your analytics first.
Post one short and see how it does.
Then post a longer video afterward.
If everything seems fine and your stats seem to be doing as good as expected, then continue with the same strategy.
Personally, I decided to completely stop posting shorts on my channel for the time being as it took a whole month for my channel to recover and get back to normal.
There is no one road to success on youtube.
Smaller YouTubers now have a challenge that NO other content creators before us had to deal with. But it is vital that we keep testing new things, analyzing our stats, and making data-driven decisions.
Just winging it doesn’t really cut it on Youtube anymore.
This is all uncharted territory but we will learn so much along the way.