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YouTube Shorts: What Are They & How To Use Them 2021 Guide

YouTube Shorts – they are the latest version of short videos that are popping up across social media.

It’s new to YouTube but doesn’t feel new to us, right?

This is the YouTube version of TikToks and Instagram Reels that we’ve seen arise over the last year or so.

But the real question is, can it be beneficial for your business and for your YouTube Channel?

So in today’s post, we’re going to cover what YouTube Shorts are, and what we know about them so far.

We will also discuss how they could potentially make or break your YouTube channel.

If you’re familiar with Instagram Reels or TikToks, it’s probably sufficient enough to just say it’s the YouTube version of that.

But to give a better definition, they are short videos published on YouTube that can be up to 60 seconds long.

YouTube Shorts

They have a general purpose of entertaining or providing value to your viewers.

When you’re scrolling through the YouTube mobile app on your home feed, you will now run into what’s called the Shorts Shelf.

YouTube Shorts

Once you click on a Short, from there you can just scroll up to continue watching Shorts from different people.

Now one thing we’ve noticed in this example is that…

…those Shorts that were suggested to us on the Shorts Shelf in our home feed were not people we were subscribed to, except for the LYFE Marketing one.

So that could be because the accounts we’re subscribed to outside of LYFE Marketing are not really posting Shorts yet?

So YouTube is pulling from other popular channels?

Or maybe it’s similar to the Explore page on Instagram, where it’s just a mix of content based on what the algorithm thinks you like.

If you noticed, next to the Shorts Shelf, it said Beta.

So, it’s important to keep in mind that this is all new and changing, and we will keep you guys posted here on our blog as new information rolls out.

The other place to find Shorts is along the bottom menu bar. You can click Shorts and scroll through them from there.

The nature of these videos is mobile-based. They’re vertical and they’re meant to be recorded from a smartphone.

But you can still access them on desktop or Smart TVs as well, it’s just a little different.

When accessing YouTube on desktop, you’ll notice that even if you scroll down, you’ll never run into a Shorts Shelf.

So, you can type in #Shorts into the search bar to find Shorts.

YouTube Shorts

Or, you can just go directly to the channel you want to watch and scroll down to see if they have posted any Shorts.

How Do You Make Shorts?

On your smartphone, if you hit the plus sign icon…

YouTube Shorts

…you can then tap Create a Short.

You’re then brought to a screen where you can record a clip directly with the YouTube camera,, either front facing or by flipping to record on selfie cam.

Or, you can also upload a clip from your camera roll.

Now before you record, you’ll need to tap that 15 number to turn it to 60, if you want to record up to 60 seconds.

Otherwise, it will end your video at 15 seconds when you’re recording.

If you tap on Filters, you can tap through the different filters available for your video.

YouTube Shorts

You can click Timer to set a countdown to start or end a recording after so many seconds.

This can be helpful if you’re recording yourself on the selfie cam and don’t want the action of your hand hitting record to be included in the video.

You can also tap Speed to adjust how slow or how fast you want your video to play.

And then, you can also tap Music to choose a song to go with your video.

What’s important to note here is that, right now, as of the time we’re writing this post, you can only use music for the first 15 seconds of your Shorts.

So if you have a video that’s 20 seconds long, and you add a song, it will play for the first 15 seconds.

And then, the last 5 seconds of that video would just be whatever original audio you had coming from your video.

Once you’ve added everything that you want, you can tap on the next screen.

YouTube Shorts

You can add music here too if you didn’t do it on the previous screen.

You can add text, adjust the size of it, the color, and the placement of it. You can also adjust the timing of when you want the text to be on screen.

So if you want different text to appear on screen at different times, this is where you adjust that.

You can also adjust filters here if you didn’t do that on the previous screen.

Once you’re satisfied, you can tap next and…

  • enter your title and description,
  • select if the video is made for kids or not,
  • if you want it to be public or not,

…and then hit Upload to post!

So those are the basics on how to create a Short.

But before you start recording, there are some other things to note when creating Shorts to make sure it’ll help with your YouTube marketing.

Important Things To Keep In Minds When Creating YouTube Shorts

1. Just like Tiktoks and Instagram Reels, YouTube Shorts loop.

So take advantage of that and make videos that encourage replays!

The longer someone stays on your content the better.

And that’s because it helps with building consumer trust in your brand, as well as for getting the algorithm to favor you!

2. It goes without saying that YouTube Shorts are..well..short!

So you have to make the first few seconds captivating. If you can hook them in the first second, that’s even better.

If you’re used to publishing regular long-form videos on YouTube, you’re probably used to hooking people in a 20-60 sec long intro.

But Shorts are only 60 seconds long in their entirety!

And you saw in our gifs earlier, people are just scrolling through like “next, next, next” without a second glance.

So you’ve got to hook people in the first 1-2 seconds, or else they are not going to watch it.

3. Do you need to add #Shorts to your video?

When Shorts first rolled out, it wasn’t available to everybody yet.

And the hack everybody was talking about was to just upload your vertical phone-filmed video like a regular YouTube video.

And because it was vertical it would have black borders on the side.

But putting #Shorts in your title and description would help it get picked up by YouTube as a Short.

Now that they’re available to everybody in the US, the question is, is adding #Shorts to your video still necessary? Does it increase more views?

Well, as of May 11 of this year, YouTube Creators said they recommend adding #Shorts to help with discovery.

YouTube Shorts

So while it’s not required, we think that’s a clear ‘yes’ from them in terms of getting more views from adding it.

By the way, if you want to learn more about social media hashtags, be sure to read this post next.

4. Shorts are not Stories.

This may be obvious but we just want to be clear. If you’re new to all these features, it could be easy to get the two confused so we just want to clarify.

Stories also can appear on a Stories Shelf like the one shown here.

YouTube Shorts

And, they have a similar creation process of filming through your YouTube camera on your smartphone, adding music, effects, etc.

But unlike Shorts, Stories expire after 7 days, you can find them by tapping on an account’s profile icon if they’ve posted one.

Stories are only available to accounts with over 10K subscribers.

So there are differences as well as similarities between the two features.

And that’s why we just wanted to point out that they are, in fact, two different features.

The Shorts Shelf will have the Shorts symbol next to it.

5. Will it affect your YouTube channel statistics?

There has been some talk going around questioning whether Shorts will actually help or hurt your channel numbers.

The reason this is being discussed in the marketing world is because Shorts can only be made with a maximum of 60 seconds…

…and YouTube is all about longer watch times, right?

Now we’ve read several blog articles about this and we’ve watched quite a few YouTube videos from people who say they’ve tested Shorts out.

We’ve also watched a couple of YouTube videos from YouTube Creators themselves.

So let us break down what we have found, and hang with us for a second because this is going to get a little bit technical and analytical.

When it comes to Average View Duration or AVD, you can look at that metric for your channel as a whole and for your individual videos.

So the average view duration of your channel overall could go down…

…if all you’re posting is Short videos on your channel, where you have also posted long-form videos in the past.

Because let’s say, you usually post 10 min videos, so your channel AVD was about 6 min.

Now all you’re posting is Shorts, and the AVD on those videos is MAX 60 seconds (unless people are watching them looped on repeat).

But let’s say the shorter videos bring your channel AVD down to 3 min.

That’s what has got people concerned and why we’re seeing people start to create a second channel specifically for Shorts.

They don’t want Shorts to bring down their overall channel AVD. However, we have two things to say about this.

First, YouTube ultimately also looks at the total watch time minutes of your entire channel.

So even if you have some individual videos like Shorts that are bringing down your channel AVD…

…your overall channel watch time is likely going to be higher if your Shorts are taking off and getting lots of views, and YouTube will recognize that.

In one video, a YouTube employee said:

“Don’t worry about our systems making some decision about your channel being good overall, we’re always going to be following the audience.”

So if the audience is liking and interacting with your Shorts and watching them a lot, YouTube sees that.

And, cares about that seemingly more than it bringing down your overall channel AVD.

Secondly, YouTube said they look at each video’s performance.

Again, a YouTube employee said that variations in your metrics between videos are a reflection of the audience’s actions.

And that’s not the system making a blanket judgment call about your channel. And also, that they care about each video’s performance.

So even though Shorts are just 60 second long, if people are watching all of it, that’s a 100% viewing rate of that video, which looks great to YouTube.

So, our biggest suggestion here is to test for yourself, keep an eye on your individual video metrics as well.

And most importantly, monitor how your audience is responding overall.

Are you losing subs from posting Shorts? Are your Shorts getting negative or no engagement?

If so, it may be in your best interest to create a second channel just for Shorts!

It’s still such a new feature that our best suggestion would be to post a couple of Shorts, see how they fare and make an informed decision from there.

6. Only desktop views are monetized for Shorts.

Note that this is only at the time we’re writing this post.

Now, that might make you scratch your head since everything about Shorts is made for the mobile experience.

But that’s just how it is right now, desktop monetization only so far.

So with that, we would say that if you’re looking for a way to bring massive waves of revenue to your channel…

…Shorts is probably not going to be your solution for that, at least not right now. But that brings us to our next question.

Where do YouTube Shorts fit in your overall digital marketing strategy? What do you use them for?

So like we just said, monetization should probably not be the sole reason you create Shorts.

So let’s look at the reasons why you should create Shorts.

Reasons Why You Should Create YouTube Shorts

1. Brand Awareness

YouTube Creators say that 6.5 billion people are already watching Shorts globally.

And with what they said earlier about adding #Shorts to help with discoverability…

…Shorts seem like a great way to reach new subscribers and increase your brand awareness on the platform.

One tip we would suggest is to include value in the Short itself, while also pointing towards a related video on your channel for even more value.

For example, if you’re an eCommerce store and you have a 10 min video on ways to style certain clothing from your shop for Spring…

…you could make a Short that shows 1 of your dresses styled 3 ways and then at the end, point them towards your Spring styles video for more looks.

That way, even if they haven’t watched your longer YouTube video yet, they walk away feeling like they gained value from your brand.

Thus, giving them a positive interaction with you and helping you build brand awareness.

Establishing that initial consumer-brand trust is important and key to them purchasing from you later down the road.

2. Reuse your Reels & TikToks.

Work smarter not harder! If you’re already making Instagram Reels and TikToks, just repurpose them for YouTube Shorts.

You’ll have to do a little bit of adjusting here and there to make them work for Shorts.

But, it’s definitely doable and will save you way more time than trying to think of things from scratch for a third platform.

Just remember that Shorts only lets you play music for 15 seconds.

So, you may need to adjust videos that were originally made with the intention of having music play longer than that.

Additionally, if you export videos from TikTok or Instagram after they’ve already published, they will come out with either:

…so make sure you save the original video, without a watermark, to upload to Shorts.

None of these platforms like seeing their competitors’ logo on your video, and they’ve been known to kill your reach if they see it.

3. Provide more value.

If you’re not already posting Reels or TikToks and need to come up with some ideas from scratch for your YouTube Shorts, we would say above all just provide value.

Value can come in many forms whether it’s via quick tips, a how-to, something funny or entertaining, etc.

Think about the pain points or goals your audience has as they relate to your business and industry, then tackle those pain points and goals with your Shorts.


There you go, we know we covered a lot today!

YouTube Shorts are still pretty new and are likely to change over time, so be sure to check our blog regularly for regular updates.

But if you want guaranteed results without having to wait and learn these new tactics for your video marketing strategy, then get in touch with us.

Our expert team can definitely help you with our YouTube promotion services or YouTube SEO services. Talk to us today!

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