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Do NOT write off YouTube with the success of TikTok

Do NOT write off YouTube with the success of TikTok

by john roman

7 months ago


As I have mentioned in previous posts, content is one of our major focuses (also community, but more on that later).  Yes, about a year ago we launched on TikTok and that was a top priority.  Around 3 months ago, we noticed something.  Perhaps we were late to the game, or perhaps we were still early (it’s relative), but YouTube was really pushing Shorts. YouTube Shorts launched in the United States in March of 2021.  We had noticed it at first, but did not engage.


3 months ago we decided to change that.  It was clear that YouTube Shorts was a priority for YouTube and their algorithm was definitely treating #short content as such.  We were already producing a good amount of content for TikTok with plans to double the quantity getting ready to be executed (Brandon was hiring a full time video editor).  Shorts and TikToks are very similar when it comes to the requirements.  The only main difference currently is that Shorts have to be 60 seconds or less while TikToks can now be up to 3 minutes.  Shorts is almost identical to Instagram Reels.


As we were already editing content (vertical and mainly under 60 seconds) for TikTok, the vast majority of this content could also be repurposed for YouTube Shorts with very little additional work.  In December, we had been producing this type of content for the last 9 months very regularly, so we already had a nice repository that could allow us to post very consistently and often on Shorts.  Let’s go, off to the races!


Initially, just like with TikTok, we did not see instant success.  On average, Shorts were garnering us 1000~ views each.  This was not really moving the needle too much on our overall views and subscriber count.  When we started pushing on Shorts hard, we were at around 54,000 subscribers.  We had been adding 300-600 new subscribers a month for the past few years with our regular long form content.  While any growth in general is great, we were hoping Shorts might cause an uptick similar to TikTok.  We were not seeing it at first.  In December, subscriber growth was in line with our normal growth.  In January, as we loaded up even more Shorts content, we saw growth slightly better than usual.  We added almost 1,000 new subscribers, basically double what we had done the month prior.


Around the same time that we saw The Tok’ening occur, YouTube Shorts really popped for us as well.  Here is a graph of our subscriber count starting in January of last year through today.

YouTube Subscriber Count



On the below screenshots from YouTube Studio, you can see February so far.  As one would expect there is some major consistency in conversion rate from views to new subscribers.

YouTube February 2022


YouTube Subscriber Growth for February 2022

Now all of this is great and exciting, but we need to work on harvesting this newly acquired audience (it’s going to be a major strategic discussion this week).  Looking at some quick data from Google Analytics, we have some major work to do.  Now, traffic from YouTube can be tricky.  Sometimes it definitely comes straight from a link on their platform to our site, but it often does not.  We need to look at traffic that is also identified as Direct, Google Organic, and also Google CPC.  With the CPC traffic, we obviously need to make sure nothing substantially changed in our advertising approach from the comparable data we are looking at.  With Organic we have to take into consideration the current SEO work that has been completed since the comparable data, but also the warming up of previous SEO work.


Here is the last 7 days compared to the same 7 days in January:

Google Analytics YouTube Traffic

Google Analytics Organic Traffic

Google Analytics Direct Traffic

Google Analytics Google CPC Traffic

Going to continue to lean extra hard into YouTube and TikTok as nobody knows how long this opportunity will last for either.

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