Community of Practice

YouTube Shorts resources

YouTube is leaning heavily into Shorts in response to TikTok’s popularity.

A phone displaying YouTube Shorts

Google company recently announced its new creator app that competes with TikTok’s CapCut, and it is teasing new features, including AI-generated backgrounds, in an effort to lure more creators onto the platform. Some glitches exist with the platform: uploads aren’t sorted well, there are no hard closed captions, and monetization options are limited, especially as compared to longform YouTube videos.

News organizations are experimenting with Shorts, some with more success than others. In terms of content strategy, it’s best to think of Shorts as a way to introduce your brand to someone who is curious about a topic but is not yet an enthusiast. 

An important feature of Shorts is that videos are not timestamped. Brands have found that videos often take off weeks or months after posting, so SEO has become more important than timeliness on the platform. The strict character limits on captions and titles force you to be more economical in your video descriptions. Straightforward headlines using relevant keywords work, but hashtags and questions are less successful.

Many of the same principles that work on TikTok also apply to YouTube Shorts. Videos that look less produced perform well, and you need to capture someone’s attention in the first few seconds. Host-based content has been a hit. Authenticity is key, and it all comes down to personality and camera presence. Young people often devalue news brands in favor of the people delivering the message, so find ways authentically to bring the voices of your organization to your audience.

You don’t always have time or resources to create new videos, so find ways to repurpose and recontextualize archival content. Interestingly, broadcast organizations have found success with creating content with sound bites from interviews — but cutting out the on-air anchor. One word of warning: the algorithm will deprioritize your content if you re-upload the exact same video, even if years later, so make sure you recut or add captions or images to change the raw video if you want to re-introduce a story that’s making news again. 

In terms of workflow, it works best to film the video on a phone. You can edit the video either on desktop (many use Adobe Premiere Pro) or mobile, but always upload the content through the platform’s mobile app. It’s also better for SEO to add in text overlays or effects in the app. Here are some editing tools that were shared in the meeting:

There was a lot of conversation about crossposting vertical videos. Ultimately, if you are already creating video content for TikTok and Reels, it makes sense to distribute on Shorts as well. When crossposting, make sure to upload the original raw video (without watermarks from a different platform) and make small adjustments to fonts or graphics to match the look and feel of the platform. 

Lastly, folks expressed that reps at YouTube Shorts can be hard to get in touch with. Try reaching out through this website.

Resource links:

Shorts content shared:

Local News Solutions

The Lenfest Institute provides free tools and resources for local journalism leaders to develop sustainable strategies to serve their communities.

Find Your News Solution
news solution pattern