After rolling out the next stage of its TikTok-esque 'Shorts' feature last week, which sees the beta version of the option now available in all regions, and making Shorts available to all US users last month, YouTube is now looking to take Shorts to the next level, as it seeks to fend off rising competition from TikTok on the short-form video front.
Today, YouTube has announced its first exclusive Shorts dance challenge, which will be tied into the launch of the new track by K-pop sensation BTS.
As per YouTube:
"Starting this Friday, anyone from across the globe can create a 15-second YouTube Short right from the YouTube mobile app, replicating the core dance moves from the “Permission to Dance” music video. The dance moves for this challenge are the “International Sign” gestures that the septet was seen doing in the music video, bearing the meaning “Joy,” “Dance” and “Peace”.
Between July 23rd and August 14th, YouTube is inviting BTS fans to post their own version of the dance moves to Shorts, with BTS then selecting some of their favorite Shorts to be included in an official compilation video. Users need to include the hashtags #PermissiontoDance and #Shorts for their creations to be considered.
Linking into BTS is a smart move by YouTube as it seeks to raise awareness of Shorts, and boost adoption with younger users.
Over the past 12 months, BTS' videos have seen over 10 billion views on the platform, as the band continues to gain momentum, while BTS is also one of the top 5 most-viewed artists on YouTube this year.
"With 54 million subscribers on its Official Artist Channel, they are the third most-subscribed artist on YouTube. BTS has joined YouTube's coveted billion views club on three different occasions with its hits DNA, Boy With Luv, and most recently Dynamite."
That popularity will no doubt see more people giving this Shorts tie-in a shot, and if they subsequently have a good experience, and gain traction with their Shorts clips, that could help YouTube boost Shorts adoption, and steal some audience away from TikTok.
Which is a rising area of concern for both YouTube and Facebook collectively. TikTok has remained at the top of the app download charts for 18 months straight, and its traction with younger audiences has it well-positioned to become a key app for social media connection moving forward.
Which will see it become a bigger consideration for marketers, stealing ad dollars away from the incumbents, while also, potentially, making it a more important app in the lives of more users moving forward.
We all know what happened when the youth switched from MySpace to Facebook, and Facebook is keen to avoid becoming past-tense, which is why both platforms are pushing to combat TikTok's rise in any way that they can.
YouTube's connection with BTS may be the best idea yet on this front, and while it likely won't see Shorts steal a heap of TikTok's thunder, it will increase awareness of the tool, and give it a better shot at winning out.
And if YouTube can also highlight its reach and monetization benefits to creators, that could end up delivering a bigger blow to TikTok, in the longer term.