TikTok made its global debut in 2018. Amateur content creators quickly embraced its accessible recording and editing capabilities and potential to skyrocket views to viral heights.TikTok’s success proved that a 60-second video clip could generate more engagement than a static image or written message, inspiring other social media platforms to offer similar functionalities. Enter, Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts.
Today, professional creators and marketers regularly leverage video to boost user engagement, build trust, and increase brand awareness—and it works. 93% of companies report acquiring new customers via video, and 66% of social media users echo that sentiment, saying that short-form video is the most engaging content.
If you’re eager to level up your content strategy and start posting videos, but can’t decide whether to focus your efforts on YouTube Shorts vs TikTok, read on to learn the six key differentiating factors of the two platforms:
- How to Create Content
- Monetization Methods
- Reporting & Analytics
- Future Outlook
Who Uses YouTube Shorts vs TikTok?
YouTube Shorts’ Audience
YouTube introduced Shorts to its platform in 2020. While there is data on its creators and their content, viewership demographics are difficult to parse due to the overlap between long-form YouTube channel content viewership and Shorts.
- The genres of content ordered from the most to least popular are entertainment, food and drink, video games, sports, crafting, parenting, pets, movies and TV, science and technology, and news.
- The most famous YouTube Short was from the channel Five-Minute Crafts, demonstrating how to make soap in the shape of a foot.
- Katina Buno is the most popular YouTube Shorts creator, with over 3.3 million followers.
- 25.6% of YouTube Short videos originate from India, and 23.4% come from the US.
- 1.5 billion users watch YouTube Shorts each month.
TikTok’s user base skews younger (10-19 years old) than its median age of content creators (18-24 years old). More users are engaging with TikTok on iOS devices than on Android, and roughly 450M more daily active users in China than in the USA. The most popular type of content falls into the entertainment category, and most users prefer humorous videos.
- Nearly half of TikTok creators are ages 18-24, 7% are under 13, and less than 2% are 45+.
- Khaby Lame is the most popular creator on TikTok, with 153M followers.
- The genres of content ordered from the most to least popular are entertainment, dance, pranks, fitness/sports, home renovation/DIY, beauty, fashion, cooking, life hacks, pets, and outdoors.
- TikTok’s user base is 57% female and 43% male.
- 25% of TikTok users are 10-19 years old, 22% are 20-29, roughly 40% are 30-49, and only 11% are over 50.
- There are 30.8 million daily active iOS users and 14.43 Android users.
- There are 600 million daily active users in China and 150 million active users in the US.
- 63% of TikTok users say they want to see funny content.
What Successful Content Looks Like on YouTube Shorts vs TikTok: Understanding the Algorithm
Understanding your target audience and selecting the social platform that is the closest fit is critical, as both YouTube Shorts and TikTok’s algorithm prioritize content based on engagement and watch history of similar accounts. Let’s take a deeper dive into what successful short-form video content looks like on each platform and the algorithmic factors taken into consideration on YouTube Shorts vs TikTok.
How the YouTube Shorts Algorithm Prioritizes Content
A user’s watch history and engagement with similar niche content on YouTube Shorts determine the videos its algorithm serves in their activity feed. When creators upload a clip, the algorithm takes your video’s content along with the title, tags, and audience segmentation you select into account before matching it with the interests of other user profiles and suggesting it to them.
It doesn’t matter how many videos or subscribers your Shorts channel has. Your content will be recommended and get a boost every time someone engages with it by liking it, commenting on it, etc.
We have good news—if you have an existing YouTube channel that houses long-form content but want to start making short videos. If they cover roughly the same topic and niche, YouTube encourages publishing Shorts on your primary channel.
Shorts have also proven to help 59% of Gen Z viewers discover longer-form content. One strategy to promote holistic engagement is to think of your short videos as commercials to give viewers a taste of your longer content.
Caption: YouTube serves your Shorts videos to users who have watched and engaged with similar content recently.
Want to dive deeper and learn more about on the YouTube Shorts algorithm? Check out our full writeup, YouTube Shorts Ideas to Win the Algorithm.
How TikTok’s Algorithm Prioritizes Content
The top signals TikTok’s algorithm looks at are user interactions, video information, and device and account settings, such as language preferences, country settings, and mobile operating system.
The For You Page (FYP) is where most users initially discover creators on the app. It bases recommendations on the following pieces of user data:
- Account followed
- Comments they’ve written
- Videos they’ve reported as inappropriate
- Longer videos they’ve watched to the end
- Content they create on their account
- Creators or sounds they’ve hidden
- Videos they’ve liked or shared on the app
- Videos they’ve favorited
- Videos they’ve marked as “Not Interested”
- Interests they’ve expressed by interacting with organic content and ads
Creating content that will land on a user’s FYP starts with finding your target audience’s subculture. Some of the most popular content communities on TikTok are #BookTok, #CarTok, and #FarmTok—creators interested in these niche topics film and tag their content with the appropriate hashtag to gain visibility.
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Key Tactical Differences Between Creating Content on YouTube Shorts vs TikTok
While the recommended specs for YouTube Shorts vary slightly from TikTok, both social platforms were designed with recording and viewing videos from a mobile device in mind because they display videos vertically in a 9:16 aspect ratio. Both platforms’ apps enable users to shoot and edit videos within the app, but there are significant differences between the capabilities.
YouTube Shorts allows creators to upload content on mobile devices and desktop browsers. Video content for Shorts cannot exceed 60 seconds and requires the creator to tag #Shorts in the title so YouTube can differentiate it from long-form content and promote it as a Short. Like TikTok, creators can shoot and edit their content directly within the YouTube app and upload clips from their phone’s storage. However, YouTube’s visual effects and features are limited compared to TikTok. You can still trim clips, add sound, text, and subtitles, and apply some simple filters, but Shorts does not support TikTok’s signature AI, Duet, and Stitch effects creators have grown to love and use regularly. All of this is just the beginning - Learn more in our step by step guide, How to Make YouTube Shorts: The Ultimate Tutorial.
Many argue that TikTok has the edge in the YouTube Shorts vs TikTok debate when it comes to the video creation experience. Users who record, edit, and post videos on TikTok enjoy an intuitive UX packed with editing features that allow content creators to curate genuinely personalized and unique videos that showcase their talents. Users can record content directly within the app or import videos from their phones up to ten minutes long. They can adjust clip length, add smart captions, apply transitions, and experiment with AI effects to create visually stunning work. TikTok houses a massive selection of music and sounds created by other users that can be added to videos.
Many creators find that TikTok’s editing features make for an easier video creation experience than YouTube Shorts. If your focus lies with YouTube Shorts specifically, and you’re looking for ways to fill that editing gap, check out Opus Clip. Opus Clip leverages AI to turn long-form video into engagement-optimized YouTube Shorts that are ready for posting.
How to Monetize Short-Form Video Content
The monetization methods available to creators through YouTube Shorts vs TikTok could not be more different—an intentional play by YouTube meant to entice TikTok creators to Shorts.
YouTube offers an ad revenue-sharing program to its Shorts creators. 45% of the total earnings generated by the ads that appear after watching each YouTube Short are added to the creator pool, which is paid out according to the number of views on each creator's video. YouTube Shorts believes its revenue-sharing model will encourage the platform's long-term sustainability, incentivize creators to keep posting videos, and strengthen niche content communities without being limited by the ceiling of a Creator Fund.
Starting to earn money as a YouTube Shorts creator may feel intimidating at first, but it is totally within reach with the right information and strategy. To learn more, check out our guide for 2023 on how to make money on YouTube Shorts.
TikTok has two monetization models. The first is its Creator Fund, which pays eligible content creators based on their video performance and engagement metrics, including views, the authenticity of views, the level of viewer engagement, and whether their content adheres to Community Guidelines and Terms of Service. The second is via self-promotion. TikTok's user profile interface makes it easy to add and edit link-in-bio offers to take followers to a creator's website, affiliate link offers, etc. TikTok also includes a shopping feature that can redirect users to a link that identifies every product used in a video.
Which Platform Has Better Analytics?
Posting to YouTube Shorts and TikTok is just the beginning, as your attention should then turn immediately to measuring performance and learning! But which platform has better analytics available to you as a creator?
Both TikTok and YouTube Shorts feature KPI dashboards to help creators gain analytical insight into the performance of specific content and their channel as a whole. While the platforms report video views, likes, impressions, and reach metrics accessible on mobile and desktop devices, they have a few key differences to consider.
Whether you create one-hour or one-minute video content on YouTube, the reporting dashboard is the same—YouTube Studio. However, it recently updated the Shorts reporting interface to highlight more relevant insights for short-form video content creators versus the platform’s historically long-form-specific metrics.
TikTok analytics have always been geared towards short-form content reporting, so its dashboard dives deeper into some areas than YouTube Shorts. It includes an overview of all video metrics and a detailed breakdown of content and follower KPIs like average watch time, videos by section, views by region, gender, and proprietary follower data like the TikTok sounds they listen to most and even other content they watch most to inspire you to create similar videos.
No matter which platform you post your content on, you can analyze its performance and improve your strategy with your findings. But, if you want a more granular look at your video metrics and a peek into the social media habits of your audience, TikTok will better suit your needs.
Where the Platforms are Headed From Here
Social media platforms are constantly evolving, looking to unlock the next big trend in content creation before the others.
However, what is interesting about YouTube Shorts vs TikTok is that the historically long-form content platform YouTube is leaning into short-form videos of fifteen seconds or less. In contrast, TikTok has done the opposite by upping its time limit on content from sixty seconds to ten minutes.
YouTube Shorts has bet its strategy on the tried and true evidence that supports the idea that shorter videos increase engagement, viewership, and more time spent on the platform. TikTok has leaned into the ideology that as creators grow their brands and communities; their audiences will want to watch longer, richer video content.
If you’re looking to experiment with short-form video content or bring new life to your social media strategy, it’s critical to understand what each platform brings to the table—and who, for that matter. When comparing YouTube Shorts vs TikTok, there is no single answer to which platform is better for you as a creator.
YouTube Shorts are best suited for content creators already familiar with YouTube who are interested in creating short videos to engage their existing audience in a new way. TikTok is the perfect low-barrier-to-entry platform for new creators looking to develop a robust digital community by filming longer-form content and who wish to take ownership of their monetization strategy by integrating a shopping experience and featuring products they can use to earn affiliate income.
Whether you decide to focus on YouTube Shorts or TikTok, consider using a tool like Opus Clip to create more engaging shorts at a higher frequency. Opus Clip repurposes your long videos into professional short videos optimized for YouTube Shorts, TikTok, and Instagram Reels.
You can join our Discord to try it out and start generating short clips for free!
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About the Author
Rebecca Xu is the Product Marketing Manager 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.