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  • Writer's pictureJason Burlin

Youtube Shorts – Next Instagram?

Updated: Sep 8, 2023

Not very often do I get to write about stuff that I get excited about. Especially if it’s about stuff or things that I think can be game-changers and make a powerful impact. Youtube shorts is one of them. If you are not familiar yet, Youtube shorts are short-form videos that are up to 60 seconds in length. To be direct, they look and feel exactly like Instagram reels or Tiktok posts and it’s not by mistake. After many unsuccessful attempts by Google and Youtube to enter the social media arena, Youtube shorts looks like their most promising attempt. If you ask me, it’s going to get wild. 

Youtube shorts were first released in beta in India at the end of 2020 and was then released in the US in March 2021. It quickly surpassed billions of views per day and by July 2021, was available in more than 100 countries. I started noticing the “shorts” format about 6 months ago, but it wasn’t until recently that I paid close attention. In the last few months, I started seeing a big shift that indicates a bright future that Youtube shorts could potentially have as a dominant social media platform. That shift in popularity and growth came from the fact that for the first time ever, Google and Youtube were attracting creators from other social media platforms and those creators were bringing exceptional content. 

When they say, “Content is king”, I think that’s an understatement. Content is not just king, content is everything. When “Shorts” was launched, creators who didn’t have a way to express and publish their content through Youtube found a new home. Short-form videos are the modern way to consume and create content. Our attention span is becoming ridiculously limited and we want to be stimulated with content at rates we have never been stimulated before. This is news to anyone, but Google for years couldn’t figure out how they can capitalize on it and own their space of true social media that’s based on short-form content discovery consumption. 

 All that is being changed and challenged now by Youtube shorts and I am sure that this will be a game-changer for businesses and advertisers. Let’s examine how and why: 

Excessive free organic reach.

If you uploaded a video in the past before to Youtube, you know that in most cases the reach will be very limited and your videos will end up reaching a lot fewer people than what you initially expected. On “shorts” organic reach was ballooned to attract content creators. The best way to make you want to consume or try a product is to first give you a sample for free right? Youtube is doing exactly that. They are inflating the reach of current creators who are creating unique content and posting it to “Shorts” to reward them and push them to create more for the platform. In return, they give them organic reach that they can leverage to grow their subscribers and channel that will later benefit them in the long term. And it’s working. It honestly already feels like an established social media platform like the other big giants and content is flowing through at very high rates. 

In addition, Google is further pushing creators by offering money grants and other incentives so they create more content. They call it grants but don’t be fooled, they only want to make creators successful and dependent on Youtube shorts, so when the platform explodes, they can start limiting the reach and capitalizing on paid products. This business model is the same or similar models to how Facebook, Tiktok, and Instagram were giving away free reach and later took it away. So why is it good news for advertisers and businesses if it’s only temporary? 

Think about it in the following way. As a business, you are using social media to connect with your customers but also to leverage growth and amplify reach as much as possible. So when you decide to post a piece of promotional content somewhere, you want to make sure that you are posting it in the space where it’s likely to reach the most users. We all know that reach on platforms like Facebook & Instagram is dead, Tiktok is becoming harder the options for free organic reach are getting harder to find. That’s why when new platforms emerge with free new organic reach Opportunities, you want to make sure you are there to take advantage of the opportunities. The organic reach might be temporary, but the fact that there are no ads on Youtube shorts yet just opens up a bigger window for more free reach and traffic. Now is the time to shift over and expand, and have Youtube shorts as a placement with a lot of focus and resources from your end. 

It finally feels like a social media platform 

What’s unique to all social media platforms is the need and want to discover. People log in to browse around, discover stuff, and be entertained. They don’t know what they are looking for. 

A lot of people say that Youtube is the same, but in my opinion, most users know what they are looking for when they go to Youtube. They might go from one thing to something else completely random, but I would think it’s safe to say that you go to Youtube when you are searching for something, and you go to Instagram when you are not. Aside from being a discovery placement, Youtube shorts also look a lot more like a social media platform in the way that content is shown, The rapid scrolling between different posts and the rate of the amount of time you dedicate to each post also opens up the advertising ecosystem to more native-looking ads

What I mean about this is that there is nothing more annoying than a Youtube advertisement right before you wanna watch a video or listen to a song, and something there is more than one.

Although Youtube shorts doesn’t have ads yet, when they do, they will look a lot like ads on Facebook or Instagram or TikTok do. They will be unnoticeable and they will blend in between posts. King of like TikTok ads – 

The fact that ads won’t look like ads and will be shown in scroll between posts, will create a lot more opportunities for advertisers. Ads won’t appear right in the middle or before your videos 

 In such an annoying way like they do now on Youtube. Instead, they will appear in perfect harmony with your feed and if advertised effectively, users will have a hard time differentiating between an ad post and a regular post that they come across. 

It’s backed by Google and its advertising ecosystem. 

When advertising on Tiktok started, businesses were going bananas, trying to put their hands on as much ad space as they possibly could. They figured that if they are there first, they will leverage the same type of opportunities they had with Facebook ads 5-10 years ago. The reality was different.

Although there are a lot of opportunities for advertising on Tiktok, the advertising efficiency remained significantly lower than on Facebook and even though Facebook ads felt like dying ad space, Tiktok was worse. The truth is, Tiktok entered advertising in an Era that’s a lot more challenging in terms of user privacy which dramatically impacted their ability to target, segment, and optimize your ads toward the right people. Facebook and Google were also hit dramatically, but it’s important to note that they carry many many years of user data, algorithms, and a monster advertising machine that’s capable of delivering highly targeted results and benchmarks for its advertisers. The difference with Youtube shorts is that it’s the Google advertising system. All those great targeting capabilities that you get from Google ads and Youtube, you are going to get on Youtube shorts. So that means highly targeted and relevant reach, a high level of advertising efficiency, and most importantly, effective results. Not to mention that as an early platform, Youtube shorts will have a lot fewer advertisers which means every user sees fewer ads and that increases the chances of purchasing one of your products if it’s relevant. 

Building your digital assets – 

Although organic reach will eventually be limited and replaced by paid advertising on Youtube shorts. Building up your presence on youtube would be an important added benefit when promoting your business through “shorts”.

All pieces of content that you share, the hard work that you put into it, can all be associated with your profile on youtube can bring subscribers, and commenters, and start building your following. 

It’s going to be big – 

You never want to be the last one entering an overcrowded train yet we tend to always repeat and say that we should have acted sooner. Now is the time with Youtube shorts, your time to benefit from the potential of the placement of “Shorts” and leverage it as much as you can for your business. That means content creation, doing a lot of intel on what currently works for your niche on youtube shorts, and planning to allocate as many resources as you can to maximize your growth opportunities.

In Summary

Youtube Shorts is making a case for itself to be the next big social media advertising platform, and you don’t want to miss out. Backed by the Google ads targeting capabilities and extensive vault of advertising data, Youtube Shorts has the potential to compete with the likes of Instagram and TikTok. Currently, Youtube Shorts is focusing entirely on organic reach while encouraging content creators to participate through grants and other incentives. As soon as enough content creators migrate to Youtube Shorts, it’s likely that Youtube will implement paid advertisements into their ecosystem. In the event that this becomes the next big thing, it’s in your best interest to start building your presence and familiarity with the platform as soon as possible.

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Jason Burlin

A seasoned marketer with more than a decade of experience in online paid advertising. Managed more than $150M in ad spend and worked with more than 500+ brands. He is known as the unconventional marketer.

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