TikTok creator marketing

What Each Short-Form Video Platform Brings to Creator Marketing

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Imitation is, indeed, the sincerest form of flattery when it comes to features on social platforms, with Instagram’s blatant duplication of Snapchat’s Stories feature representing the prime example. So, when the short-form videos initially popularized by Vine—before that application was purchased by Twitter (now X) and shuttered—propelled TikTok into the mainstream, the obvious next move for YouTube, the birthplace of online video, was its introduction of YouTube Shorts. This ongoing evolution provides creators with fresh avenues to captivate their audiences and underscores the importance of adaptation, especially for those looking to elevate their YouTube influencer marketing strategies.

“Generally, platforms increasingly are converging as they launch new formats that emulate their competitor platforms—TikTok goes long-form, YouTube adds Shorts,” Open Influence Vice President of Strategy and Creative Alexandra Mathieu said. “As the platforms converge, it becomes interesting to wonder what will divert audiences’ attention where? Authenticity seems to be a driver of attention, so the question is: Which platforms evolve best while preserving authenticity most?” 

TikTok and YouTube Shorts have much in common, but they differ in many ways, as well. So, which is a better option for creator marketing, or should both be incorporated into campaigns? 

Thumbs Up for TikTok 

Although TikTok has been nudging creators toward longer-form content of late, relaunching its Creator Rewards Program to only offer monetization opportunities on videos of at least one minute long, “TikTok still reigns supreme from what I’m seeing,” OI Senior Account Manager Aundrea Leckie said, noting that she is seeing more campaigns on TikTok than on YouTube Shorts. 

The app’s user interface simplifies navigation, highlighted by the For You feed of videos curated by the platform’s algorithm based on factors including the user’s interactions, preferences, and trends. Swiping up brings people to new content, and the navigation bar at the bottom of the app lets them access their profile, explore trending videos, or search for specific content or creators. 

Creators can enhance their videos with features like filters, stickers, text overlays, translations, and visual effects. Collaboration with others and engagement are fostered by tools including: 

  • Challenges, where TikTok users are encouraged to participate in viral trends, 
  • Duets, which let people create their own videos alongside existing content. 
  • Stitch, which enables users to clip and react to specific moments within existing videos. 

In general, creators have found it easier to build an audience on TikTok than on YouTube Shorts, as well as to generate greater reach on their posts. 

Going Long on YouTube Shorts 

Having Google as a parent company brings many advantages with it, notably in the areas of discoverability and measurement. 

YouTube has become the No. 2 search engine—behind only, well, Google—for purchase decisions, with more than 55% of people searching for products on Google and then using YouTube for further research. 

Google said 85% of its search users in the U.S. also used YouTube, which tallies some 2 billion logged-in users each month, and more than 40% of people have purchased products they discovered on YouTube. 

Measurement is one of Google’s strong suits, as well, and OI Senior Creative Strategist Zach Honer said YouTube Shorts “definitely has better reporting and metrics capabilities, given that it’s a Google platform.” 

OI Associate Director of Strategic Accounts Erica Fernette agreed, adding, “Another huge value to YouTube Shorts is the detailed measurement available and targeting capabilities through a Google-based platform. With targeting, we can do general demographic and interest targets (what the other platforms offer), but on YouTube Shorts, you have the ability to be more successful in driving lower-funnel actions and purchase intent through remarketing (showing ads to customers who have previously visited your website or used your mobile app) and customer match (target ads to previous customers and other customers like them).” 

YouTube Shorts can also lay claim to certain demographic groups due to their familiarity with YouTube. 

Young Generation Zs and older Gen Alphas (Zalphas) are almost exclusively on YouTube Shorts,” OI Senior Creative Strategist Gem Garcin said. “This group has grown up watching parent-controlled YouTube or YouTube Kids, and they have stuck with the platform on YouTube Shorts. Skibidi Toilet is a good example of the viral potential of YouTube Shorts that speak directly and exclusively to Alpha content consumers.” 

The maximum length for YouTube Shorts is 60 seconds, and the format supports vertical videos for mobile devices and uses the YouTube interface that is familiar to most, with a dedicated shelf for Shorts on the app’s home screen. Commenting, liking, and sharing are done the same way those functions work for regular YouTube videos. 

Creative tools and editing options for YouTube Shorts include captions, filters, music (large library of licensed tracks), speed control, text overlays, and timer. 

YouTube’s massive user base and robust search functionality trickle down to Shorts, providing the opportunity for greater reach across multiple posts, while TikTok tends to be hit or miss on that front. 

“In general, with TikTok algorithmically pushing more long-form content, I believe that we’re kind of seeing YouTube Shorts carve out its own content identity,” Honer said. “Popular YouTube Shorts content tends to still be highly produced (quick-cut editing, attention-grabbing text overlays, flashy transitions, colors, sound effects, etc.), similar to the kinds of comedy skits you’d see on Vine, mixed with text overlays and supers that were trending on TikTok in 2022 and 2023 era. “ 

He offered Alan Chikin Chow as an example, saying that the creator’s content consists of highly produced comedy skits for a very general audience. 

“In terms of platform usage, I would say that YouTube Shorts is still quite underutilized in the marketing world in comparison to TikTok, and a major opportunity for brands if done right,” Garcin said, “particularly for young adult and teen audiences. 

What to Know Before Choosing One 

TikTok emerged on the scene as an app where people shared videos of themselves dancing and lip syncing to popular songs, and the app remains largely driven by trends, in the form of audio, challenges, dances, hashtags or text overlays. While entertainment is what attracts people to TikTok, authentic educational and lifestyle content have thrived on the platform due to its growth as a search source

Meanwhile, YouTube Shorts tends to be home to more highly produced fare, with colorful visual elements, crisp editing, and text overlays. “I have noticed that with YouTube Shorts in general, it is much more polished and produced short-form content compared to the very real and lo-fi-style content often found on TikTok,” Fernette said. 

In terms of genres, the most popular ones on TikTok are dance, pranks, fitness/sports, home/do it yourself, beauty, fashion, cooking, life hacks, pets, and outdoors. 

Meanwhile, for YouTube Shorts, that list is made up of entertainment, food/drink, gaming, sports, crafting/DIY, parenting, pets, movies/TV, science/technology, and news. 

OI Senior Account Manager Jen Thorsheim shared her advice on choosing between the platforms: “Prioritize TikTok when tapping trends. The algorithm favors evergreen and cycling content trends and sounds. Explore YouTube when product or brand explanations, tutorials, or demonstrations are beneficial or required.” 

She added, “Consider brand key performance indicators. If engagement is a high priority, gear content toward TikTok, as YouTube is more focused on content consumption and views than on interaction with the platform. Consider target audiences: There is a younger demographic on TikTok as compared to YouTube, but you can likely reach a broader audience on YouTube, depending on the creator and vertical.” 

And when in doubt, brands and creators can always follow the “hook-value bomb-call to action” framework. Don’t forget hashtags! 

Why Not Both? 

Repurposing content created for one platform on the other would appear to be a natural move at first glance, but that isn’t always the case. 

While OI has seen some cross-posting between the two platforms, Leckie noted, “I have seen a few brands try to double down on YouTube Shorts, but not many are prioritizing this space. While we work to see what performs best, I’d recommend it as an added-value share versus a first-priority platform.” 

OI Account Manager Merzia Cutlerywala echoed Leckie’s thoughts on added value, saying, “In my experience lately, when asking talent to repurpose content as added value, they have been more willing to share to YouTube Shorts over Instagram Reels. I have only really seen this in the past three months.” 

According to Honer, the platform that the content originated on makes a difference: “Content that’s endemic to YouTube Shorts can still work well on TikTok, as there’s still a large segment of TikTok content that’s purely entertainment, whereas not all content that’s endemic to TikTok will play on YouTube Shorts. For example, a super-authentic ‘creator speaking to camera about a product they love might kill on TikTok with the right creator and text overlays, but for it to succeed on YouTube Shorts, it would need to be a bit more layered with its editing, transitions, visuals, etc.” 

For example, a super-authentic creator speaking to the camera about a product they love could perform exceptionally well as content for TikTok influencer marketing campaigns with the right creator and text overlays, but for it to succeed on YouTube Shorts, it would need to be a bit more layered with its editing, transitions, visuals, etc.

Parting Words 

“As TikTok trends toward a platform that’s more and more mainly used for education, searching, shopping, and authentic, stripped-down storytelling (such as Reesa Teesa’s “Who TF Did I Marry” series), I predict YouTube Shorts carving out its platform niche as a tried-and-true entertainment platform—which, of course, plays super well with Gen Alpha audiences,” Honer concluded. “YouTube Shorts is a universal donor (blood type O), while TikTok is more of an AB blood type.” 

Open Influence’s team stays on top of the latest trends and is here to help you maximize your creator campaigns. Open Influence is a leading global creator marketing agency dedicated to creating engaging campaigns. 

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