It’s amazing to consider the impact that TikTok has had on the social media landscape, and media consumption habits more broadly - and not just within TikTok itself, but also via the various short form video offerings now available in other apps.
Case in point - today, YouTube has revealed some new stats on the rising popularity of YouTube Shorts, its own TikTok clone, which was initially designed to dilute differentiation between the two apps, and keep YouTube users from straying away to the trending platform.
As per YouTube:
“YouTube Shorts are now being watched by over 1.5 billion logged-in users every month.”
That is a huge amount, especially when you also consider that YouTube’s total monthly ‘logged in’ audience is 2 billion total users.
That means that around 75% of YouTube users are engaging with Shorts in some form, which is a big vote of confidence in YouTube’s counter-offensive approach to fend off rising competition from TikTok. You can criticize the platform replication all you want, but the fact is it works, which is why every platform now seems to jump onto every significant trend that comes along in the space.
(Note: Some estimates suggest that YouTube’s monthly active user count, including those not logged in, is around 2.6 billion, but this has not been officially confirmed by YouTube itself)
The rising interest in Shorts has been further reinforced via new study, conducted by Inmar Intelligence, which found that 70% of web users now regularly watch short-form video.
Again, the influence of TikTok continues to amaze, with the platform picking up on the trend originally sparked by Vine, and amplifying it for the new generation.
So why didn’t Vine succeed in the same way?
Well, part of it is the platform, with TikTok’s smart algorithms being increasingly adept at feeding you more and more of the content that you like, based on your viewing habits. TikTok’s system is particularly good at adapting on the fly, which can easily see you lose hours scrolling through your ‘For You’ feed.
At the same time, user consumption habits have also changed - so while Vine had a cult following of sorts, far more people have now adapted their media engagement habits, with short form video now becoming the ideal format for reduced attention spans.
Which is probably not a good thing. I know, from personal experimentation, that too much TikTok can make you more impatient when watching longer form content, like TV shows and movies.
For me, that turned me off the app to a degree, as I couldn’t enjoy movies in the same way - but for the next generation, this is how they now prefer their media inputs, with faster paced clips and snippets feeding into their more attuned perception and engagement.
That, again, underlines the value of replication in this respect, because for a video platform, ignoring this trend is simply not feasible, as your users are evolving, one way or another. You can either go with it, or watch them sail off to new pastures, with your engagement stats declining in-step.
And certainly, those that are leaning in are gleaning the benefits, with YouTube also reporting that creators that upload both Shorts and long-form content are now seeing better overall watch time and subscriber growth, relative to those only uploading long-form clips.
The data doesn’t lie, and it’s important for all content creators and marketers to consider these trends, which reflect the significant and sustained shift towards short-form video content.
Again, it may not be a great thing that our collective attention spans are being eroded in this way. But they are, and you need to factor this into your planning, in order to maximize the performance of your efforts.
Shorts on YouTube, whether you like it or not, is now a major element in the app. Ignore it at your own promotional peril.