YouTube has today confirmed that its TikTok-inspired 'Shorts' feed and camera option will soon be expanded to US users, after first launching in India last September.
The announcement was included in an update from YouTube's chief product officer Neal Mohan, in the first of a new blog series that will provide more insight into the platform's product development roadmap.
As explained by Mohan:
"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."
No mention of the fact that TikTok has been gaining huge traction, and had been blowing up in India before it was banned, and that YouTube wants to ensure that it maintains its hold on video connection.
"Currently, Shorts is available in beta in India. Since the beginning of December, the number of Indian channels using Shorts creation tools has more than tripled, and the YouTube Shorts player is now receiving more than 3.5 billion daily views globally. In the coming weeks, we'll begin expanding the beta to the US, unlocking our tools to even more creators so they can get started with Shorts."
That will make Shorts a much bigger consideration for YouTube creators
To be clear, YouTube users in any region can actually upload Shorts clips right now, by simply ensuring that their video is under 60 seconds in length and shot in vertical format. You then include the hashtag #Shorts within the title of your clip and it will be eligible to be featured in the dedicated Shorts feed in the app.
But users in India have access to a more specific Shorts creation process, via the 'Shorts Camera', as you can see here.
This week in India we’re launching an early beta of YouTube Shorts, a new way to discover, watch and create short, vertical videos on the YouTube app.— YouTube Creators (@YouTubeCreators) September 14, 2020
Even if you don't live in India, you can still upload your short videos today. Learn more → https://t.co/6VySxIwMB9 pic.twitter.com/M0jXHoJkki
Looks very TikTok-esque, right? That's because it absolutely is - as noted, YouTube launched Shorts in India back in September, as it sought to fill the gap left by the banning of TikTok in the region, and gather up India's 200 million TikTok users who had subsequently been left without a platform.
It's straight-up replication, which has proven to be a valuable and effective tactic for the big platforms in quelling the growth of trending apps. And as noted, YouTube has the tools, it has the capacity to host its own TikTok-style feed. It's little surprise to see it moving in that direction, in order to win more audience.
For creators and brands, that will mean that you need to pay attention to the growth of YouTube Shorts, and consider its place in your approach. YouTube has already provided a range of tips on how to create effective Shorts, and just this week, the platform also launched a new 'Shorts Report' to highlight key trends and usage insights.
It may well be worth taking note, and factoring short clips into your broader YouTube process.
In addition to this, Mohan provided some previews of other elements under development, including new shopping features coming to YouTube:
"As consumer shopping habits increasingly shift to digital, we have an opportunity to meet the growing demand for e-commerce. We’re beta testing a new integrated shopping experience that allows viewers to tap into the credibility and knowledge of trusted creators to make informed purchases directly on YouTube. Keep an eye out for this to expand later in 2021."
YouTube has been testing its product tags within video clips since last October, and is gradually evolving the tool to make more videos 'shoppable', which will open up more marketing opportunities.
In addition to this, Mohan also notes the coming automated addition of chapters in videos to improve navigation, a redesign of the YouTube VR app, additional control options for YouTube Music and YouTube Kids, and an expansion of its monetization tools for creators.
You can read Mohan's full blog post here.