Which Short-Form Video Platform Should Creators Use?
The idea of short-form video platforms is relatively new. YouTube Shorts was fully released in July of 2021, Instagram Reels was launched in August of 2020 and TikTok launched in August of 2018. Each of these platforms have their perks and downsides. Choosing which platform to publish content on can be dependent on the type of content you produce and what your target audience is. Here are some perks and drawbacks of each platform mentioned above.
Despite being named a “TikTok copycat” by some, YouTube Shorts is still widely used. The greatest perk by far of YouTube Shorts is its ability to reach a wider audience. Among the three platforms, Shorts is the only platform that will show up in internet searches and reaches a wider age range of 18 to 49-year-olds (Navigate Video). Other factors that sets Shorts apart from Reels and TikTok are the age restriction and scheduling tools. This will prove to be helpful when planning content and making sure that if it’s for adults, it stays that way. Like YouTube videos, Shorts offers a “dislike” button so the audience can report how they truly feel about a video they see.
One of the few downsides of YouTube Shorts is the 60 second video restriction. It is the platform with the shortest video length, giving less flexibility for the videos that can be posted to the website. Additionally, YouTube shorts does not offer any Augmented Reality filters.. Because of this, you can find more recycled content from other platforms, which can make the videos repetitive. You also cannot monetize Shorts at this time, but that will likely be changing soon (Vertical River).
Overall, if you have a presence on YouTube already, posting to Shorts might be beneficial to you. If you have an older audience, your content will likely reach your targeted demographic better. YouTube, like the other platforms mentioned, has found great success in their short-form video endeavors, and will continue to invest in them.
TikTok is the fastest growing social platform with a younger audience ranging from18 to 24. TikTok has many fun AR filters to use, trending sounds, and hashtags to help your videos get recognition. Scrolling on TikTok feels low stakes and relaxed, allowing more people to interact with the content they see. Creators can post up to three-minute-long videos, making it the longest time restriction among the other platforms. On TikTok, creators can monetize their short form videos and post promotional content. They also have analytics to make it easier to refine your strategies for marketing.
There are few downsides to TikTok, with one of them being their limited reach. Unless you have the app, you cannot scroll through videos. While some people upload TikTok videos to other platforms, creators will not get their views on the app itself and thus not receive any financial gain. If the videos are posted elsewhere, there will always be a watermark to brand it as originally TikTok content. Additionally, if you want to start out on TikTok, you either need to make a viral video, or be consistent with your content to gain recognition.
If you want a younger, more specific audience, TikTok might be the platform for you. Though this idea is changing, and more and more people are downloading the app, TikTok caters to a younger demographic currently.
It naturally made sense that Instagram would follow suit in creating a short-form video platform. The demographic of Instagram users is primarily 18 to 34-year-olds (Placeit). Instagram has created a tab for Reels at the bottom center of the screen. Reels allows for minute long videos and suggests users scroll down when they finish a video, allowing for endless hours of scrolling through content. This app allows users to merge the social media aspect of an Instagram account, with the video watching aspect of any of these short-form video platforms. Additionally, purchasing items directly through Reels is easy and allows you to stay in the app the whole time.
Unfortunately, on Reels you cannot pause videos. Tapping the video results in muting it, rather than pausing it. It is hard to get your start on Reels entirely. It is almost necessary that you have a following on Instagram before you jump onto Reels to get views from the videos you post because the visibility of videos on the app is low. Additionally, videos on Reels can be seen on desktop, but the constant stream of videos to scroll through is not available for desktop, meaning it is less accessible for those without the Instagram app.
Instagram Reels is a good platform for those who already have a presence on Instagram and want to add more to their content. Since Instagram is already known for the social media aspect, that is a necessary factor in finding success on Reels.
While each platform has their individual benefits, it might be worth giving each one a try and seeing which sticks. Based on your target audience, you might get a better feel for which platform suits you and your content best, or maybe a mixture of multiple platforms is the right answer for you. With that being said, it is helpful to have an established following on another account and lead them to your other accounts. Making short-form videos can be a great additional creative outlet and connect with your audience in a fun and relevant way.