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OpusClip 3.0 is here! AI b-roll generator, create 3-15min clips, viral caption templates & more. Read more
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Best Practice

YouTube Shorts Ideas to Win the Algorithm and Get More Views

April 3, 2023
16 minutes
Rebecca Xu
Head of Product Marketing at OpusClip

The number of views your Short gets, and whether it goes viral or not, depends on the YouTube algorithm. Which as we know, tends to play favorites!

Different Shorts have different chances of reaching your target audience based on a number of factors, including your Shorts’ early engagement, usage of trending sounds, and more. You can maximize your chances of success and of “going viral” by playing the algorithm and being strategic with your Shorts. Whether you're making videos for fun or as part of your job, going viral on social media can have a huge impact on your life and finances. A single viral Short can skyrocket your followers and transform your amateur account into a monetized one. Knowing how to maximize your chances of success on YouTube Shorts with these tips can help you earn some money or even skyrocket into fame if that is what you want.

A primer: What the YouTube Shorts algorithm likes (and doesn’t like)

With the rise of short form video apps, it is easy to think they are all the same and therefore, use the same techniques across all platforms. But knowing how to create your content specifically for YouTube Shorts can make a huge impact on your results. A big difference between YouTube Shorts and TikTok, for example is time limits. On TikTok, you have a bit more freedom when it comes to time, as your videos can be up to 3 minutes long. Whereas on Shorts, you are limited to 60 seconds. Don’t let this fool you though, and don’t think the time limit is a setback, the algorithm prefers short videos. Why, you may ask? The shorter your video is and the longer it can capture someone’s attention (think the opposite of a storytime that doesn’t begin until several minutes in, so you just scroll away) the higher the changes your video gets watched all the way through, and gets bumped up the algorithm

To break things down, here are specific factors that the YouTube Shorts algorithm measures:

  1. Engagement: What do we mean by engagement? Engagement indicates that your video catches people’s attention one way or another and encourages them to like, share and leave comments on your Short. The YouTube algorithm pays close attention to the sum of these interactions, then pushes your video out to more people if users seem to enjoy and interact with your content. YouTube pays attention to patterns when it comes to Shorts with high engagement and will bump up Shorts that adhere to these in the algorithm. For this, focus on larger trends within your target audience, for example, if you notice story times get engagement and you have a funny story to tell, take a stab at it!
  2. Adherence to trends: Let’s say the YouTube Shorts algorithm notices videos with a certain sound are currently doing well and keeping users on the app for longer. Your likelihood of going viral if you use that sound will skyrocket! Think about it, we couldn’t escape the “corn song” or most recently the “capybara song” as much as we wanted to, and I think I watched just about every video under those sounds. If you can identify trends in popular videos and use this to your advantage, that puts you on top.
  3. Originality: While adhering to trends is important, it is also essential you do your own thing. Users get easily bored if they encounter 1,000,000 videos that follow the same script. While Shorts focuses on trends to push the algorithm, it also places value on original Shorts with high early engagement to stay ahead of the curve and catch the newer trends.
  4. Similarity to other Shorts users have engaged with: Thanks to its size as the leading video platform, YouTube understands the watch history and interests of its users, and matches your Shorts with them. It uses this knowledge to show people Shorts they might be interested in based on their personal preferences. In this way, the YouTube Shorts algorithm operates more intelligently and personalized than by just showing trending Shorts to random users.
While following trends can give you a quick win, you should always try to sprinkle your own originality into every Short you make!

The best ways to come up with YouTube Shorts ideas

Coming up with YouTube Shorts ideas is tough, especially ones that will stand out to the algorithm! We’ve found that the following three methods can help break your “creator’s block” and start making YouTube Shorts that stick.

  1. Using YouTube search and #shorts: Look at the most popular Shorts currently in your niche by making queries in YouTube search and adding “#shorts” to the end. You can also use this method to look at what is trending in adjacent niches that you can bring over to yours!
  2. Learn from other creators: Look at specific creators in your niche to find inspiration for YouTube Shorts ideas! Specifically, here’s a helpful tip. You can look at any creator’s YouTube channel, go to their Shorts tab, and sort by most recent to see the newest Shorts they’ve posted and that you can draw inspiration from.
  3. Get help from an AI: You can AI clip creator like Opus Clip to help find Shorts ideas from long-form videos. Opus Clip uses AI to analyze any long-form video for the most engaging segments. It then displays the top 10 to you, ready to download and post to YouTube Shorts! Or, if you're looking for an AI to help you come up Shorts ideas to record from scratch, try a tool like ShortlyAI. ShortlyAI can take user-provided keywords and generate articles, short stories, or scripts for videos. Try it out to help you come up with one-of-a-kind Shorts ideas that are ready for you to record!
Enter a query into YouTube’s search feature and add “#shorts” to the end to see the most popular Shorts for that subject.

The top 10 themes you can follow to come up with great YouTube Shorts ideas

It isn’t always easy coming up with YouTube Shorts ideas completely fresh. Here are the top 10 themes we’ve noticed are most successful on YouTube Shorts.

1. Talking Head Style

Catchy clips taken from interviews, podcasts, films, and even monologues make for some of the most engaging YouTube Shorts when selected thoughtfully. This style can be leveraged no matter what niche you are in, and you can even use AI software likeOpus Clip to help generate them for you.

2. Funny Videos

Whether bloopers or a funny dog video, people love to laugh and any lighthearted content that makes users crack a smile is likely to do well. Imagine you are a sports creator; you can add funny commentary over a sports clip.

3. Motivational Videos

We all love a good motivational video, and the most important part is motivational videos can take on so many forms, from a video of a student studying hard to a motivational speech, this is your chance to get people off their seats and ready to put in some work!

Motivational videos do extremely well on YouTube Shorts. Try making one that’s applicable to your niche!

4. Educational/Informative

This can be anything from fun facts and trivia to long videos educating your users on a certain topic. Let’s say you’re a science creator, a video focusing on animal fun facts is likely to be engaging and interesting to your niche.

5. How to/Step-by-Step Tutorial

While this category could fall under educational, what we mean by tutorials is instructions helping users within your niche achieve a particular goal. Let’s say you are a college student; you can make a video explaining the step-by-step process of college applications. A completely different niche can use this format to teach users how to make a certain pasta dish or even train their dog.

6. Lifestyle

We love being nosey and learning more about people within our niche. Lifestyle videoscan range from travel videos to “Get ready with me” videos. Any way you can engage with your audience and show your human side and what your day-to-day life looks likecan help popularize your page. When trying to come up with Lifestyle-related YouTube Shorts ideas, just think to yourself: “What kind of lifestyle content would I want to watch?”.

7. Before and After

These videos are great for shock value. What I mean by this is here is where you can show off your amazing decoration videos or how simple ingredients became a fancydessert. These can be applied to any niche, from physical fitness to make-up and even construction.

Before and After style YouTube Shorts are popular in every niche.

8. Product Reviews/Unboxings/First Impressions

In the era of amazon prime, this is your opportunity to share your knowledge and your opinion on certain products. If you are a cooking creator for example, here is where you review that fancy knife set or new appliance.

9. Storytimes

Thinking of stories to tell is one of the easiest ways to come up with YouTube Shorts ideas. Here, you can share anything and everything about yourself. Story times help make creators more personable and make audiences see you as relatable. Take advantage of this opportunity and tell your audience your stories!

10. Creative short film

This is your time to be creative and film that aesthetically pleasing video we all love.Anything from painting to even cleaning can become aesthetic with the right color schemes and added effects. Visually appealing videos are likely to do well within the algorithm.

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Where to find the newest YouTube Shorts trends to stay ahead of the curve

When it comes to originally and going viral, it’s important to stay ahead of the trends.These are some tools you can use to stay ahead of the curve and think up YouTube Shorts ideas that follow the current trends:

  • VidIQ Vision for YouTube
    This amazing tool for creators helps you come up with new ideas and stay ahead. TheirAI technology gives you personalized insight and recommendations to increase yourviews.
  • Youtube Channel Analytics
    Use the Channel Analytics tool on YouTube and specifically the “Research” Tab.Here you can get information on what your viewers are searching for within the platform, helping you focus your content based on this data.
  • Viralstat
    This tool helps you find the newest trends on social media platforms, including YouTube,which you can use to grow your channel and stay ahead of the trends and what is currently popular within your niche.

Other tips to help you win the algorithm

  1. Use the “hook-value bomb-CTA as a quick framework for creating engaging Shorts. To learn more about this secret style of YouTube Short, check out our Ultimate Guide on How to Turn Long Videos into Viral Shorts.
  2. Follow the YouTube Shorts preferred specs! The algorithm will always favor Shorts that follow YouTube’s recommended specs and preferences. These include around dimensions, length, resolution, and more. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that YouTube Shorts’ preferences are identical to TikToks, Instagram Reels, or others.
  3. Use hashtags! Hashtags are one of the best ways to get your content discovered on any social platform, and YouTube Shorts is no different. If you’re low on inspiration, just look at the hashtags being used by some of the other YouTube Shorts creators that you admire in your niche.
  4. Add more visual elements, like image or text overlays. This is a great way to instantly make your Shorts more engaging, and is the secret recipe behind popular short video creators like Alex Hormozi.
  5. Post consistently. Finding success on YouTube requires that you play the long game, and play it consistently. YouTube Shorts is no exception. Try posting a few Shorts per week at the least, a couple per day at the maximum. YouTube rewards patience and consistent effort!
  6. Use engaging editing. Transitions, sound effects, and more can give your clips some added professionalism and keep viewers hooked. If you lack the time to spend on editing your clips, check out some of the AI video editors available today, specifically our very own Opus Clip which was designed for making short form video!
Want to learn to create engaging YouTube Shorts like Alex Hormozi? Check out our ultimate guide!

Wrapping things up

Coming up with creative Youtube Shorts ideas is the key to growing on YouTube today. While videos that follow trends are likely to do well, originality and hopping on what is likely to become a trend early on are crucial. With our tips, you can play the algorithm and use it in your favor. Another crucial factor is the use of software and AI, not only because they make life easier but because they aid you in making the best decisions when it comes to your content. Using tools like Opus Clip helps you sit back and allow AI to choose clips that are likely to do well on your page, while analytics tools help you come up with ideas and plan future content.

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About the Author

Rebecca Xu

Rebecca Xu is the Head of Product Marketing at Opus, and a professional simultaneous interpreter. She is a story teller, food lover, globe trotter, and sarcasm connoisseur. She loves learning new things through reading, traveling, and exploring. Most of the time, you can find her either in an ice-cream shop, or on her way to an ice-cream shop.

Best Practice

YouTube Shorts Ideas to Win the Algorithm and Get More Views

The number of views your Short gets, and whether it goes viral or not, depends on the YouTube algorithm. Which as we know, tends to play favorites!

Different Shorts have different chances of reaching your target audience based on a number of factors, including your Shorts’ early engagement, usage of trending sounds, and more. You can maximize your chances of success and of “going viral” by playing the algorithm and being strategic with your Shorts. Whether you're making videos for fun or as part of your job, going viral on social media can have a huge impact on your life and finances. A single viral Short can skyrocket your followers and transform your amateur account into a monetized one. Knowing how to maximize your chances of success on YouTube Shorts with these tips can help you earn some money or even skyrocket into fame if that is what you want.

A primer: What the YouTube Shorts algorithm likes (and doesn’t like)

With the rise of short form video apps, it is easy to think they are all the same and therefore, use the same techniques across all platforms. But knowing how to create your content specifically for YouTube Shorts can make a huge impact on your results. A big difference between YouTube Shorts and TikTok, for example is time limits. On TikTok, you have a bit more freedom when it comes to time, as your videos can be up to 3 minutes long. Whereas on Shorts, you are limited to 60 seconds. Don’t let this fool you though, and don’t think the time limit is a setback, the algorithm prefers short videos. Why, you may ask? The shorter your video is and the longer it can capture someone’s attention (think the opposite of a storytime that doesn’t begin until several minutes in, so you just scroll away) the higher the changes your video gets watched all the way through, and gets bumped up the algorithm

To break things down, here are specific factors that the YouTube Shorts algorithm measures:

  1. Engagement: What do we mean by engagement? Engagement indicates that your video catches people’s attention one way or another and encourages them to like, share and leave comments on your Short. The YouTube algorithm pays close attention to the sum of these interactions, then pushes your video out to more people if users seem to enjoy and interact with your content. YouTube pays attention to patterns when it comes to Shorts with high engagement and will bump up Shorts that adhere to these in the algorithm. For this, focus on larger trends within your target audience, for example, if you notice story times get engagement and you have a funny story to tell, take a stab at it!
  2. Adherence to trends: Let’s say the YouTube Shorts algorithm notices videos with a certain sound are currently doing well and keeping users on the app for longer. Your likelihood of going viral if you use that sound will skyrocket! Think about it, we couldn’t escape the “corn song” or most recently the “capybara song” as much as we wanted to, and I think I watched just about every video under those sounds. If you can identify trends in popular videos and use this to your advantage, that puts you on top.
  3. Originality: While adhering to trends is important, it is also essential you do your own thing. Users get easily bored if they encounter 1,000,000 videos that follow the same script. While Shorts focuses on trends to push the algorithm, it also places value on original Shorts with high early engagement to stay ahead of the curve and catch the newer trends.
  4. Similarity to other Shorts users have engaged with: Thanks to its size as the leading video platform, YouTube understands the watch history and interests of its users, and matches your Shorts with them. It uses this knowledge to show people Shorts they might be interested in based on their personal preferences. In this way, the YouTube Shorts algorithm operates more intelligently and personalized than by just showing trending Shorts to random users.
While following trends can give you a quick win, you should always try to sprinkle your own originality into every Short you make!

The best ways to come up with YouTube Shorts ideas

Coming up with YouTube Shorts ideas is tough, especially ones that will stand out to the algorithm! We’ve found that the following three methods can help break your “creator’s block” and start making YouTube Shorts that stick.

  1. Using YouTube search and #shorts: Look at the most popular Shorts currently in your niche by making queries in YouTube search and adding “#shorts” to the end. You can also use this method to look at what is trending in adjacent niches that you can bring over to yours!
  2. Learn from other creators: Look at specific creators in your niche to find inspiration for YouTube Shorts ideas! Specifically, here’s a helpful tip. You can look at any creator’s YouTube channel, go to their Shorts tab, and sort by most recent to see the newest Shorts they’ve posted and that you can draw inspiration from.
  3. Get help from an AI: You can AI clip creator like Opus Clip to help find Shorts ideas from long-form videos. Opus Clip uses AI to analyze any long-form video for the most engaging segments. It then displays the top 10 to you, ready to download and post to YouTube Shorts! Or, if you're looking for an AI to help you come up Shorts ideas to record from scratch, try a tool like ShortlyAI. ShortlyAI can take user-provided keywords and generate articles, short stories, or scripts for videos. Try it out to help you come up with one-of-a-kind Shorts ideas that are ready for you to record!
Enter a query into YouTube’s search feature and add “#shorts” to the end to see the most popular Shorts for that subject.

The top 10 themes you can follow to come up with great YouTube Shorts ideas

It isn’t always easy coming up with YouTube Shorts ideas completely fresh. Here are the top 10 themes we’ve noticed are most successful on YouTube Shorts.

1. Talking Head Style

Catchy clips taken from interviews, podcasts, films, and even monologues make for some of the most engaging YouTube Shorts when selected thoughtfully. This style can be leveraged no matter what niche you are in, and you can even use AI software likeOpus Clip to help generate them for you.

2. Funny Videos

Whether bloopers or a funny dog video, people love to laugh and any lighthearted content that makes users crack a smile is likely to do well. Imagine you are a sports creator; you can add funny commentary over a sports clip.

3. Motivational Videos

We all love a good motivational video, and the most important part is motivational videos can take on so many forms, from a video of a student studying hard to a motivational speech, this is your chance to get people off their seats and ready to put in some work!

Motivational videos do extremely well on YouTube Shorts. Try making one that’s applicable to your niche!

4. Educational/Informative

This can be anything from fun facts and trivia to long videos educating your users on a certain topic. Let’s say you’re a science creator, a video focusing on animal fun facts is likely to be engaging and interesting to your niche.

5. How to/Step-by-Step Tutorial

While this category could fall under educational, what we mean by tutorials is instructions helping users within your niche achieve a particular goal. Let’s say you are a college student; you can make a video explaining the step-by-step process of college applications. A completely different niche can use this format to teach users how to make a certain pasta dish or even train their dog.

6. Lifestyle

We love being nosey and learning more about people within our niche. Lifestyle videoscan range from travel videos to “Get ready with me” videos. Any way you can engage with your audience and show your human side and what your day-to-day life looks likecan help popularize your page. When trying to come up with Lifestyle-related YouTube Shorts ideas, just think to yourself: “What kind of lifestyle content would I want to watch?”.

7. Before and After

These videos are great for shock value. What I mean by this is here is where you can show off your amazing decoration videos or how simple ingredients became a fancydessert. These can be applied to any niche, from physical fitness to make-up and even construction.

Before and After style YouTube Shorts are popular in every niche.

8. Product Reviews/Unboxings/First Impressions

In the era of amazon prime, this is your opportunity to share your knowledge and your opinion on certain products. If you are a cooking creator for example, here is where you review that fancy knife set or new appliance.

9. Storytimes

Thinking of stories to tell is one of the easiest ways to come up with YouTube Shorts ideas. Here, you can share anything and everything about yourself. Story times help make creators more personable and make audiences see you as relatable. Take advantage of this opportunity and tell your audience your stories!

10. Creative short film

This is your time to be creative and film that aesthetically pleasing video we all love.Anything from painting to even cleaning can become aesthetic with the right color schemes and added effects. Visually appealing videos are likely to do well within the algorithm.

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Where to find the newest YouTube Shorts trends to stay ahead of the curve

When it comes to originally and going viral, it’s important to stay ahead of the trends.These are some tools you can use to stay ahead of the curve and think up YouTube Shorts ideas that follow the current trends:

  • VidIQ Vision for YouTube
    This amazing tool for creators helps you come up with new ideas and stay ahead. TheirAI technology gives you personalized insight and recommendations to increase yourviews.
  • Youtube Channel Analytics
    Use the Channel Analytics tool on YouTube and specifically the “Research” Tab.Here you can get information on what your viewers are searching for within the platform, helping you focus your content based on this data.
  • Viralstat
    This tool helps you find the newest trends on social media platforms, including YouTube,which you can use to grow your channel and stay ahead of the trends and what is currently popular within your niche.

Other tips to help you win the algorithm

  1. Use the “hook-value bomb-CTA as a quick framework for creating engaging Shorts. To learn more about this secret style of YouTube Short, check out our Ultimate Guide on How to Turn Long Videos into Viral Shorts.
  2. Follow the YouTube Shorts preferred specs! The algorithm will always favor Shorts that follow YouTube’s recommended specs and preferences. These include around dimensions, length, resolution, and more. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that YouTube Shorts’ preferences are identical to TikToks, Instagram Reels, or others.
  3. Use hashtags! Hashtags are one of the best ways to get your content discovered on any social platform, and YouTube Shorts is no different. If you’re low on inspiration, just look at the hashtags being used by some of the other YouTube Shorts creators that you admire in your niche.
  4. Add more visual elements, like image or text overlays. This is a great way to instantly make your Shorts more engaging, and is the secret recipe behind popular short video creators like Alex Hormozi.
  5. Post consistently. Finding success on YouTube requires that you play the long game, and play it consistently. YouTube Shorts is no exception. Try posting a few Shorts per week at the least, a couple per day at the maximum. YouTube rewards patience and consistent effort!
  6. Use engaging editing. Transitions, sound effects, and more can give your clips some added professionalism and keep viewers hooked. If you lack the time to spend on editing your clips, check out some of the AI video editors available today, specifically our very own Opus Clip which was designed for making short form video!
Want to learn to create engaging YouTube Shorts like Alex Hormozi? Check out our ultimate guide!

Wrapping things up

Coming up with creative Youtube Shorts ideas is the key to growing on YouTube today. While videos that follow trends are likely to do well, originality and hopping on what is likely to become a trend early on are crucial. With our tips, you can play the algorithm and use it in your favor. Another crucial factor is the use of software and AI, not only because they make life easier but because they aid you in making the best decisions when it comes to your content. Using tools like Opus Clip helps you sit back and allow AI to choose clips that are likely to do well on your page, while analytics tools help you come up with ideas and plan future content.

Try OPUS today
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Introducing OpusClip Pro Plan! Same price, more features, plus 50% more credits 🎉 Read more
Welcome Social Media Marketers! Sign up and claim your free month of OpusClip Pro here
OpusClip 3.0 is here! AI b-roll generator, create 3-15min clips, viral caption templates & more. Read more
🎉 OpusClip is the Best in Show winner at SXSW Pitch 2024 🥳 Read more
Introducing OpusClip Pro Plan! Same price, more features, plus 50% more credits 🎉 Read more
Welcome Social Media Marketers! Sign up and claim your free month of OpusClip Pro here
OpusClip 3.0 is here! AI b-roll generator, create 3-15min clips, viral caption templates & more. Read more
🎉 OpusClip is the Best in Show winner at SXSW Pitch 2024 🥳 Read more
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YouTube Shorts Ideas to Win the Algorithm and Get More Views

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