Creators pick their preferred short-form video platforms

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The streaming war has given way to the short-form fight. Three years after TikTok’s popularity triggered Instagram and YouTube to follow suit with Reels and Shorts respectively, the three short-form vertical video platforms — plus the format’s pioneer, Snapchat — continue to duke it out for audiences’ attentions and creators’ content.

All four platforms enjoy a level of popularity among audiences and creators. A recent Pew Research survey of U.S. teenagers found that a majority use each of the platforms (though it didn’t ask about Reels and Shorts specifically). But how do creators feel?

To answer that, Digiday asked several creators: If, as a creator, you could only use one short-form vertical video platform among Instagram Reels, Snapchat, TikTok and YouTube Shorts, which would you pick?

No spoilers, but what’s most telling about the creators’ responses isn’t so much the platforms they picked but their reasons why.

Naomi Hearts (@naomiheartsxo)

Platform pick: TikTok

Reason why: If I had to pick one short-form video platform to use as a creator forever I would pick TikTok! It’s the first platform I started my social career on but honestly it feels like a community!! I have been able to build a special connection with my followers in a way that I haven’t seen on other platforms! It’s also a place where you don’t have to already have followers to perform well! Everyone has their time to shine and I love that about the app!

Mac Kahey (@macdoesit)

Platform pick: Snapchat

Reason why: Even though TikTok completely revamped the creator space, Instagram reels have the best interface aesthetic, and YouTube shorts are gaining their footing, Snapchat has a level of personal touch no other platform comes close to. Though I don’t upload as much content as I’d like on the platform, I do find myself exploring Snapchat more than the others. The platform, specifically the Discover page, feels as private as it is public, on top of a self-curated aesthetic. There is more control on Snapchat over the content you choose and consent to see compared to the other platforms, which, along with its minimal and alternative comment/messaging system and private viewpoint outside of their ‘spotlights’ section, helps create a seemingly less toxic environment and culture compared to the other short-form platforms.

Anna Daly (@annabdaly)

Platform pick: Instagram Reels

Reason why: Easy to use in-app video features, easy to respond to comments and direct private messaging.

Melanie Wilking (@melaniewilking) 

Platform pick: Instagram Reels

Reason why: Each platform is unique in their own way, but if I could only keep one, it would have to be Instagram Reels. Instagram provides an opportunity to create a loyal and engaged audience that will stick with, and grow with you because they are interested in you as an individual and not just your content on its own. I have created lifelong friendships through Instagram, been able to promote other business ventures, and have ultimately been able to be my authentic self on Instagram Reels. 

Charlotte Dobre (@CharlotteDobre)

Platform pick: YouTube Shorts

Reason why: As much as I love TikTok, as a creator in Canada, I cannot earn money from it. I still post content there because it’s important to maintain a presence on the app. YouTube Shorts, however, has allowed me to grow my following on YouTube substantially, and I’ve seen many other creators grow their channels exponentially solely from posting Shorts — sometimes reaching hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of subscribers. This also translates to revenue on long-form YouTube content. Shorts does not pay as well as TikTok in the US (yet), but it does pay creators something, which is extremely important if platforms don’t want their creators to focus their efforts on a different platform.

Sean Andrews (@SeanAndreww)

Platform pick: YouTube Shorts

Reason why: If I had to pick only one social media platform to post my short-form content to,  I would choose YouTube Shorts. Although each platform has its own benefits, I believe YouTube Shorts offers the most advantages for its creators. Most notably, YouTube Shorts offers in-depth analytics. Extensive analytics is not only helpful for creators to improve upon their videos, but provides a better selection of videos for viewers, as well. For instance, YouTube’s analytics gives you data about specific videos, niches, and keywords that are trending amongst your audience. This allows creators to have more direction in what they produce.

Similarly, YouTube Shorts offers a more direct transition into long-form content. As a content creator, I am constantly brainstorming ways to expand upon my content and my business. By posting on YouTube Shorts and growing an audience on YouTube, I am growing a built-in audience where I will also post long-form content.

That being said, I am a fan of all social media outlets, as each platform provides its own benefits. TikTok is currently the mainstream short-from platform that allows creators to “blow up” and go viral in a very short period of time. Instagram allows creators to interact more personally with their audience and show their day-to-day life, and Snapchat has a lucrative payment system for its creators.

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