2 min read

The secret to going viral on YouTube Shorts

The secret to going viral on YouTube Shorts

Before YouTube Shorts, long-form video used to be the only form of media on YouTube that a content creator could produce to grow a community and cement a regular audience for their videos.

YouTube introduced a feature allowing creators to notify their subscribers via email or a notification when a new video was published. As much as this feature appears, at face value, to be an excellent way to keep your audience coming back and engaging, surprisingly this feature can sometimes be a wolf in sheep's clothing.

YouTube's algorithm takes many, many factors into consideration to determine the number of impressions a video should receive: Click Through Rate (CTR), Average View Duration and Average View Percentage are just to name a few. When a video is published, a primary wave of impressions are sent out to subscribers, accounts who have recently viewed yours or similar content, and a few unrelated viewers to test for new engagement. This first wave of engagement is crucial for a video's immediate and long term success for generating impressions from new viewers and placing anywhere on the home page or recommended. 

However, videos that are more specific and have good SEO will still be able to grow consistently even if the first wave of impressions return poor engagement results. Videos such as tutorials, reviews or informative content all fall into this category. Whereas vlogs or topical content massively depend on engagement to snowball their viewership. 

For long form content, the initial engagement isn’t the 'be all and end all' of the video's success, as long form typically has a much longer shelf life than short form. But, for short form content, initial engagement plays a key role to the success of the video, due to how rapidly short form can gain views and how little the time window is for it to gain impressions. 

Here’s where we come back to the ‘notify subscribers’ option and how it can affect performance dramatically for your Shorts. When you send out a notification to your audience announcing a new Short, the CTR is likely to be much lower than a long form video’s CTR, as audiences will be less desired to engage with a notification for a 60 second or less video. Notifications might also be sent to inactive users, or users who no longer find your content interesting.

The key to all of this is simple: Simply uncheck the ‘send notification to subscribers’ option before publishing your short. Not only will this prevent your videos’ initial impressions being potentially sent to inactive subscribers, but because of how YouTube's algorithm works, your video will be sent straight to live, active users, scrolling on YouTube Shorts to have its initial engagement test, where it will likely perform much better than it would have with subscribers. This active engagement, like previously mentioned, will also play a dramatic role for your video to be pushed to more and more active scrollers and reach virality. 

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