INFLUENCER MARKETING

YouTube Shorts vs TikTok: Which Is Best + FREE Tools to Assess Strategic Impact

Alexandra Kazakova

By Alexandra Kazakova
15 min READ | Jan 24 2024

Table of contents

Influencer marketers spent 700% more on YouTube shorts last year as short-form content continued to skyrocket.

YouTube shorts now have 50 billion daily views, up from 30 billion in 2022.

Conversely, TikTok has 3 billion downloads worldwide and a 53.9% penetration in the US, with a vast user base of 143.4 million total users.

Each active TikTok user spends 23.3 hours per month on the platform.

Also, 39% of marketers agree that short-form content brought them the highest ROI.

What do all those numbers mean for you?

Not leveraging YouTube Shorts and TikTok is like shooting your advertising campaign in the foot.

This article helps you avoid that scenario. We’ll:

  • Compare the two social platforms’ pros and cons, features, algorithms, analytics, and more.
  • Analyze the strategic implications for your campaign.
  • Share our insider tips, case studies, and tools.

Let’s dive in with arguably the most important aspect of YouTube Shorts vs TikTok: money.

TL;DR:

  • Increased Spending on YouTube Shorts: Marketers spent 700% more on YouTube Shorts; 50 billion daily views, up from 30 billion in 2022.
  • TikTok's Strong Presence: 3 billion downloads globally, 53.9% US penetration, 143.4 million users, and high user engagement.
  • Short-Form Content ROI: 39% of marketers find short-form content most effective for ROI.
  • Cost-Effectiveness of YouTube Shorts: Average advertising cost is $4 per thousand views (CPM), suitable for wider demographic reach.
  • TikTok's Higher Cost for Targeted Demographics: Average $8 CPM, effective for engaging younger audiences.
  • Free Tools for Campaign Analysis: Includes Cost-per-Mille, Click-Through-Rate, and ROI calculators.
  • Pros and Cons of YouTube Shorts: Wide reach, SEO benefits, monetization, content longevity, but limited creative tools and competitive landscape.
  • Pros and Cons of TikTok: Highly engaging, creative tools, strong in younger demographics, but limited in older demographics, content lifespan, and data privacy concerns.
  • Platform Features Comparison: YouTube Shorts offers scheduling, dislikes/likes, while TikTok has Stitch/Duet, Q&A, and discovery tab.
  • Algorithm Differences: YouTube Shorts focus on video length and topics, TikTok on hyper-personalization.
  • Analytics Comparison: YouTube provides detailed analytics, TikTok offers basic insights.
  • User Demographics: YouTube Shorts target a broader audience, TikTok is popular among younger users.
  • Video Duration: YouTube Shorts limited to 60 seconds, TikTok allows up to 3 minutes.
  • Editing Options: YouTube Shorts has basic tools; TikTok offers advanced editing and AR effects.
  • Strategic Campaign Alignment: Success depends on aligning strategies with each platform's strengths and audience preferences.

Overall, the choice between YouTube Shorts and TikTok for marketing campaigns depends on the target audience, campaign goals, and budget, with each platform offering distinct advantages.

YouTube Shorts vs TikTok: Your Campaign Budget

On average, advertising on YouTube Shorts is more cost-effective.

With an approximate cost of $4 per thousand views (CPM), it presents a more budget-friendly option for companies looking to maximize their ad spend efficiency.

In comparison, TikTok’s average advertising cost is higher, with a reported $8 CPM.

This higher cost reflects the platform’s strong engagement rates and appeal to a specific demographic.

What that means for you:

YouTube’s lower costs may be more attractive for small to medium-sized businesses or campaigns aiming for a wider demographic reach.

HOWEVER:

For brands specifically targeting younger demographics and seeking high engagement, the higher cost of TikTok ads could be a worthwhile investment.

Or, you can use both social media platforms.

Insider tip: Don’t just consider cost but also measure your campaign success in terms of engagement, conversion rates, and brand impact.

Analyze metrics like cost per mille, click-through rate, and ROI.

Here are some free tools you can use:

1. A Free Cost-per-Mille Calculator

You can fill in any two fields to get a quick CPM in the simple mode.

The advanced more allows you to consider more in-depth factors.

This calculator lets you compare the CPM you’d get on TikTok and YouTube Shorts, thus prioritizing the best tool in your next marketing campaign.

2. Free Click-Through-Rate Calculator

Simply input your number of clicks and impressions in this calculator to get the CTR score for TikTok and YouTube shorts.

Then, compare the results to see which channel can boost your campaign’s success more.

The tool also has an advanced mode for more intricate calculations.

3. Free ROI Calculator

Your campaign efforts should bring a decent ROI.

Whether you’re using influencers or not, you should assess which channel maximizes your profits.

This ROI calculator was devised for influencer marketing campaigns.

However, you can consider your brand as the influencer and set your average followers and the number of posts accordingly.

Then, let the calculator estimate your potential reach, engagement, and impressions.

Pro tip: Compare the advertising budget and ROI from this campaign to the budget and ROI you’d have by using influencers.

Now that your campaign budget is set up let’s analyze the two platforms side by side.

YouTube Shorts: Pros and Cons

YouTube Shorts is a feature within the YouTube platform designed to capitalize on the short-form video content trend.

Launched as a direct competitor to TikTok, Shorts allows users to create and share videos between 15 and 60 seconds long.

This feature is integrated within YouTube’s vast ecosystem, leveraging its expansive user base and content variety.

Shorts are engaging and easily consumable, offering tools for editing, music incorporation, and interactive elements.

PROS:

  • Extensive reach and established audience: Being a part of YouTube, Shorts benefit from the platform’s massive, diverse user base, providing access to a wide range of demographics.
  • SEO Benefits: Thanks to YouTube’s integration with Google, Shorts has the potential for higher SEO visibility, which can drive more organic traffic compared to other platforms.
  • Monetization opportunities: YouTube offers a Shorts Fund, a monetization feature for creators, which can be an incentive for producing high-quality short-form content.
  • Longevity of content: Unlike other platforms where content relevance is fleeting, Shorts can have a longer shelf-life due to YouTube’s algorithm and content discovery features.
  • Cross-promotion potential: Creators can leverage Shorts to promote their longer YouTube content, providing a unique synergy between short and long-form content.

CONS:

  • Competitive landscape: The immense content pool on YouTube can make it challenging for Shorts to stand out, especially for new creators.
  • Limited creative tools: Compared to TikTok, YouTube Shorts’ creative tools and filters might seem less advanced or varied, potentially limiting creative expression.
  • Lesser focus on short-form content: As YouTube prioritizes various content formats, Shorts may not receive the same focus and algorithmic promotion as dedicated short-form platforms.
  • Monetization criteria: The eligibility for the Shorts Fund and other monetization features can be stringent, which might discourage smaller creators.
  • Audience preference: Some YouTube users prefer long-form content, which means Shorts might not always align with the existing audience’s content consumption habits.

TikTok Shorts: Pros and Cons

TikTok, a leading platform in the bite-sized video content sphere, has revolutionized digital media consumption.

This app allows users to create, share, and view videos up to 3 minutes, focusing exclusively on this quick, engaging format.

Known for its viral trends, catchy music integration, and highly personalized algorithm, TikTok has become a cultural phenomenon, especially among younger demographics.

It’s a hub for creativity and spontaneity, providing tools and features that encourage users to express themselves in innovative ways.

PROS:

  • Highly engaging algorithm: TikTok shows its active users content tailored to their interests, leading to higher engagement rates.
  • Viral potential: The platform is known for its viral trends, making it easier for content to gain rapid and widespread popularity.
  • Creative tools and features: TikTok offers various advanced and user-friendly editing tools, effects, and AR filters, fostering creative content creation.
  • Strong community engagement: The app promotes a sense of community and interaction, encouraging user participation through challenges, duets, and hashtag campaigns.
  • Dominance in younger demographics: TikTok is incredibly popular among Gen Z and younger millennials, making it an ideal platform for targeting these age groups.

CONS:

  • Demographic limitations: While it’s popular with younger users, TikTok’s reach among older demographics is comparatively limited.
  • Content lifespan: Videos on TikTok often have a short lifespan, where content can quickly become outdated or lost in the fast-moving feed.
  • Ad and monetization limitations: The social media platform’s monetization options for creators are not as well-developed as YouTube’s, which can be a drawback for content creators focusing on income.
  • Data privacy concerns: TikTok has faced scrutiny and concerns regarding data privacy and security, which could deter some users and brands.
  • Brand safety risks: Due to the unfiltered nature of the content, there is a risk of association with inappropriate or off-brand material, which can be a concern for advertisers and marketers.

YouTube Shorts vs TikTok: Main Features [and Benefits for Your Campaign]

YouTube Shorts have specific features that TikTok clips lack, and vice-versa.

Let’s analyze these features and see what they mean for your campaign.

YouTube Shorts

  • Dislike and like buttons: The presence of like and dislike buttons on YouTube Shorts provides direct and immediate feedback from your viewers. That means you can tailor your strategies and content to align with viewer preferences.
  • Scheduling tool: The ability to schedule when videos go live allows creators and brands to plan and execute content strategies more effectively. This feature enables targeting peak engagement times, ensuring maximum visibility and impact.
  • Child-friendly content options: The option to designate videos as made for children allows you to target your content more effectively to specific age groups. This is great, especially if you have a family-oriented brand.
  • Unlisted clips and link sharing: Offering the option to unlist and share videos through links gives brands greater control over who views their content. This feature is awesome for targeted marketing campaigns and exclusive content distribution.

TikTok Clips

  • Stitch and Duet features: These features enable active users to interact with and add to other creators’ content, fostering a sense of community and collaboration. They also increase viewer engagement. You can leverage these for interactive campaigns, encouraging user participation and content virality.
  • Q&A Feature: The Q&A feature allows creators to engage directly with their audience, answering questions and responding to comments through videos. This fosters a more personal connection with the audience, helping you build brand loyalty, understand consumer needs, and even sell more products.
  • Discovery tab: The discovery tab showcases trending sounds, hashtags, and effects, giving you insights into current trends. Utilizing these trends can increase your content visibility and relevance, aligning with what the audience is currently interested in.

YouTube vs TikTok: Similarities [and Benefits for Your Campaign]

  • Suitable for short video content: This format captures viewers’ attention who prefer quick, engaging content. Short videos are great for storytelling, brand introductions, and product highlights, fitting perfectly into the fast-paced consumption habits of modern audiences.
  • Uploading previous videos and privacy controls: The flexibility to upload pre-made videos enables creators to repurpose content across platforms. Privacy settings allow controlled content distribution, which can be strategically used for exclusive releases or targeted marketing.
  • Full-screen immersive experience: The full-screen format ensures undivided viewer attention, maximizing the impact of visual content, especially on mobile devices. This immersive experience is crucial for creating memorable brand interactions and effective storytelling.
  • Similar feed scrolling mechanism: The familiar scrolling experience across both short-form video platforms eases the user’s content discovery process. This consistency helps maintain user engagement and ensures a seamless transition for audiences active on both platforms.
  • Following creators directly from videos: This feature simplifies building a follower base. It encourages immediate engagement and helps creators and brands grow their audience efficiently.

YouTube Shorts vs TikTok: Key Differences [And Their Strategic Implications]

Now for the section you’ve been waiting for: the differences between YouTube Shorts and TikTok and what they mean for your campaign.

1. Algorithm

YouTube Shorts’ Algorithm

YouTube Shorts algorithm is distinct from its long-form video algorithm.

It primarily focuses on video length, topics, and viewer engagement (how often a video is viewed vs swiped away).

Besides, Shorts are part of the larger YouTube platform, meaning they benefit from its sophisticated search and recommendation system, which is heavily influenced by user search history and channel subscriptions.

Another benefit is content longevity.

Videos on YouTube, including Shorts, tend to have a longer lifespan due to YouTube’s comprehensive content categorization and searchability.

Strategic impact on your brand:

Understanding the importance of topics and engagement in the algorithm helps you create more targeted and engaging content.

For example, you can:

  • Release a series of Shorts that provide quick tips related to a longer tutorial or review video, encouraging viewers to engage with both content types.
  • Use the connection with long-form content for cross-promotion, potentially extending the reach of Shorts beyond the typical short-form audience.

Insider tips:

  • Longer-term strategies can be more effective. Content should be more evergreen, and there’s an opportunity to create a narrative over multiple Shorts.
  • If you’re using influencer marketing, find YouTube influencers who engage a diverse target audience that aligns with your brand’s target demographics. Also, choose influencers who can create evergreen content that remains relevant over time.

This is a great example because it addresses the evergreen problem of online trust:

TikTok’s Algorithm

TikTok’s algorithm is known for its hyper-personalization, based on user interactions (likes, shares, comments), video topics, trending elements, use of effects, and overall engagement.

Content on TikTok can go viral quickly, influenced by trending sounds, hashtags, and challenges.

Besides, TikTok’s algorithm is excellent at pushing content to a broad, global audience, even if the creator doesn’t have many followers.

Strategic impact on your brand:

  • Trend utilization: You must be agile, capitalizing on trends and popular effects to gain traction.
  • Engagement focus: Creating content that encourages interaction (likes, comments, shares) can significantly boost your campaign’s visibility.

Insider tip: Ensure your content is catchy, highly engaging, and designed for immediate impact. If you’re using TikTok influencers, prioritize those with a proven track record of leveraging TikTok’s algorithm effectively. Those who are quick to adopt trends and viral content are especially great.

That’s what our sister agency, inBeat, did for the sports app Green Park:

Source

As a result, Green Park’s budget scaled to 3X while maintaining their target CPIs. And all that within just three weeks.

2. Analytics

YouTube Shorts

YouTube offers comprehensive analytics, including detailed viewer demographics, engagement metrics, and performance.

Analytics for YouTube Shorts are available through a separate feature in YouTube Studio.

Strategic impact for your brand: The in-depth analysis capability helps you understand nuanced viewer behaviors and user engagement.

Therefore, you can plan your social media strategy long-term.

TikTok

You get quick and easy access to basic analytics such as video views, likes, shares, and basic demographic information. These analytics are directly available in the TikTok app.

Strategic impact on your brand: The immediacy and accessibility of TikTok’s analytics enable rapid, on-the-go adjustments to content strategies so you can easily respond to short-term trends and viewer preferences.

Take our TikTok UGC campaign examples that move the needle.

We found that extensively testing and adapting catchy hooks is the key to:

  • Increase views and view duration
  • Reduce ad fatigue
  • Reduce CPAs

Our work for Turo offers a great example because it’s the simplest hooks that work best:

3. User Demographics

YouTube Shorts

Shorts attracts a broader age range, tapping into YouTube’s diverse global user base.

Strategic impact on your brand: This diversity allows for targeting a wider audience spectrum, making it suitable for content that appeals to various age groups.

It offers flexibility in content style, from more mature themes to youthful trends.

Insider tip: Campaigns on YouTube Shorts should consider a more varied content strategy to appeal to its wider demographic range.

This might include a mix of entertainment, educational content, and varied storytelling styles.

TikTok

TikTok predominantly attracts a younger audience, particularly Gen Z and younger millennials.

Strategic impact on your brand: Content needs to be tailored to resonate with younger viewers, requiring a focus on current trends, fast-paced editing, and relatable themes.

It’s ideal for brands that engage with this demographic segment and build brand loyalty among young consumers.

Insider tip: TikTok campaigns should lean into current cultural trends, quick humor, and engaging challenges to resonate with its younger audience.

If you’re working with TikTok influencers, make sure they can create highly shareable, visually captivating content.

This video offers a good example of visually captivating content because it’s fast-paced and polished but still authentic.

Source

And yes, it’s another one of our agency’s awesome work examples.

4. Video Duration

YouTube Shorts

YouTube Shorts should be a minimum of 15 seconds and a maximum of 60.

Strategic impact for your brand: The shorter duration of YouTube Shorts requires concise, impactful content.

It’s ideal for quick messages, brand teasers, or snippets that lead viewers to longer-form content on the same platform.

This constraint also fosters creativity, challenging Shorts creators to deliver their message effectively in a brief window.

Insider tip: Focus on creating concise, entertaining content that quickly grabs and holds the viewer’s attention. This might include catchy visuals, quick facts, or humorous clips.

TikTok

The duration limit on TikTok is 3 minutes.

Strategic impact for your brand: The longer duration available on TikTok allows for more detailed storytelling and more comprehensive, relevant content creation.

This flexibility is great for in-depth product showcases, extended narratives, and engaging story arcs.

It offers room for more detailed and creative expression.

Insider tip: Delve deeper into your content whenever necessary, whether through storytelling, detailed tutorials, or extended interactions with the audience.

Source

5. Editing Options

YouTube Shorts

YouTube offers basic editing tools, including filters for video brightness, hue, temperature, and a vast audio library.

You have enough functionality to create polished, visually appealing content.

The focus is more on the content itself rather than the effects used.

Strategic impact for your brand: The type of content that attracts YouTube social media users focuses on quality and message.

Basically, you must use the available tools to enhance but not overpower the core message to reach your marketing goals.

Insider tip: If you’re using influencer marketing, select influencers who can convey messages concisely and engagingly. Their ability to use YouTube’s editing tools effectively to create polished content should also be a priority.

TikTok

TikTok has a vast library of advanced editing tools, including AR effects, green screen options, and filters.

Strategic impact for your brand: TikTok’s extensive range of creative tools allows for highly dynamic, visually creative content.

This can significantly enhance viewer engagement, as the platform’s audience appreciates and expects a high level of creativity and visual appeal.

Insider tip: Influencers who skillfully use TikTok’s extensive editing features, including AR effects and green screen, can add a creative edge to your campaign, making it more engaging and shareable.

Side note: inBeat offers an excellent (free) database for finding TikTok influencers. This tool can help you identify influencers whose style, audience, and content align with your campaign objectives.

All you have to do is select the right filters and keywords, like so:

Source

Next, compare influencers’ profiles in terms of average engagement rates, follower count, and post activity.

Wrapping Up

As you can see, each platform offers unique opportunities and challenges, from YouTube Shorts’ diverse audience and content longevity to TikTok’s trend-centric approach and younger demographic.

The key to success is aligning your campaign strategies with each platform’s strengths and audience dynamics.

And if you want to find the right influencers or assess your marketing budget, check inBeat’s free toolkit and kickstart your campaign.

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