YouTube Shorts is YouTube’s answer to TikTok and Instagram Reels, featuring vertical videos of up to 60 seconds in length.

Since launching in India in mid-2020, Shorts has seen rapid growth, with the number of monthly logged-in users climbing from 1.5 billion in summer 2022 to more than two billion a year later.

If you’re already creating Reels or TikToks, YouTube Shorts is an obvious addition to your social media strategy — and if you aren’t, there’s no better time to start than right now.

Either way, we’ve rounded up 10 of the best, most unique examples of YouTube Shorts to inspire you, covering everything from household name consumer brands to government agencies and higher education institutions.

Let’s get into it.

1. Beardbrand

With over two million YouTube subscribers, Beardbrand understands what it takes to succeed on the platform. There’s plenty to learn from all of its YouTube content, but we were especially impressed with the brand’s single-minded approach to YouTube Shorts.

Whereas most marketers try a bit of everything on Shorts, Beardbrand sticks to a single theme with its short-form video content: so-called “beard transformations.” They’re basically what they sound like — Beardbrand takes someone with a massive, unruly beard and trims it down to something a little more chic (with the help of the occasional Beardbrand product).

This single-minded focus means audiences know exactly what to expect from Beardbrand’s YouTube Shorts. If they like beard transformations, they’ll keep coming back for more.

The strategy clearly works, with most of the brand’s Shorts generating five-figure viewing numbers (and several surpassing 100,000 views).

2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Working with influencers, thought leaders, and celebrities is key to many social media strategies. Indeed, almost 85% of marketers say influencer marketing is effective, while the same proportion plan to use a dedicated influencer marketing budget in 2024.

As one of the world’s best-known higher ed institutions, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has greater access to these high-profile figures than most social media marketing teams.

Still, that’s no guarantee of success; they must make the most of these opportunities. Which they definitely did with this YouTube Short featuring a commencement address from engineer and YouTuber Mark Rober:

Rober clearly understands the unusual, intriguing content that tends to play well on YouTube. As a former NASA engineer, he’s the perfect fit for MIT’s audience. So it’s no surprise this video has clocked up over 2.5 million views and 150,000+ likes.

3. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WiDNR) punches above its weight when it comes to YouTube Shorts: despite only having 8,500 followers on YouTube, its Shorts regularly rack up thousands of views and hundreds of likes. That’s an impressive engagement rate.

In part, that’s because the agency knows how to create content that’s both useful and timely — two vital elements of social media success.

Here’s a great example:

As this YouTube Short succinctly explains, when fall comes around, trees in Wisconsin (and probably other places, too) often end up covered in spongy moth eggs. WiDNR shared this video in October 2023, making it a valuable and topical resource for anyone looking to protect their garden trees from moth infestation.

The agency also clearly understands why people come to YouTube, with how-to and tutorial-style videos consistently ranking among the platform’s most popular content types.

4. Tiffany & Co

Because YouTube Shorts is all about bite-sized content, and videos appear one after another in an endless for-you-style feed, you don’t have long to get your message across to viewers.

So does that mean YouTube Shorts isn’t worth your time? Not at all. You just have to get smart about how you communicate your branding, just like Tiffany & Co. does in our next example:

As you can see, the Tiffany & Co logo appears prominently in the middle of the screen from the very first frame of this video. And anyone who watches to the end will see it again, accompanied by the brand’s iconic Tiffany blue color scheme.

So, even if you’re not paying attention to the message, there’s a good chance you’ll remember the branding.

5. Transportation Security Administration

People are always talking about the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA’s) Instagram presence, but they’re well worth a follow on YouTube, too.

The agency is pretty prolific on YouTube Shorts, typically posting multiple times per week — way more often than it publishes “traditional” YouTube videos. That’s because it uses Shorts much like you’d use TikTok or Instagram Reels: as a platform for short, throwaway, and often funny video content like this:

Sure, this sort of content isn’t particularly educational or informative.

However, it plays a crucial role in raising awareness of the TSA as a brand and making it feel more human, which can often be a struggle for government agencies.

6. University of California, Los Angeles

There was no shortage of brands jumping on the Oppenheimer bandwagon in 2023. But only some could get involved quite as organically as UCLA, one of the locations used in the movie.

So you can hardly blame the institution’s social media team for getting involved through YouTube Shorts:

This is a perfect example of how brands can successfully join the conversation around viral and cultural moments.

You should get involved if a trend feels like a natural fit for your brand and audience. But if it feels forced, you’re better off steering clear because it could appear inauthentic.

That’s a big deal, with 71% of Americans saying they feel they can relate to authentic brands (and are therefore more inclined to support them).

7. Glossier

Cosmetics giant Glossier is a master at creating the types of content its audiences want to consume.

Even if you’ve never bought lip gloss, eyeliner, or foundation, you’re almost certainly aware of the popularity of makeup tutorials on YouTube. Between them, YouTube’s five most popular beauty-themed channels have approximately 73 million subscribers, and tutorials are a big part of their success.

So it makes sense for brands like Glossier to follow the crowd by sharing their own tutorial videos, just like this example:

As you can see, Glossier’s products are on-screen for pretty much the whole video, so viewers are more likely to remember them hours — or days — later (because you can’t expect everyone to be in the buying mood right now).

8. City of Las Vegas, NV

According to Google, the top two reasons people watch content on YouTube are “to relax” and “to feel entertained.” And it doesn’t get much more entertaining than watching someone ride a waterslide through the middle of a shark tank:

The City of Las Vegas is blessed to have so many high-profile and exciting events and attractions to leverage in its social media content.

But this can also be a double-edged sword: countless publishers and influencers are creating content about Las Vegas, making it hard for a smaller brand to cut through — even if they’re a government agency.

For that reason, the City of Las Vegas deserves plenty of praise for using various tactics to ensure its content stands out. For example, they published the waterslide video during Shark Week 2023, when plenty of people actively sought shark-themed videos.

9. Texas State University

It’s becoming increasingly clear that audiences on social media want to see content from real people rather than faceless brands. For instance, 86% of people say they’re more likely to trust brands that publish user-generated content.

So, the more genuine human voices you can get into your YouTube Shorts, the more authentic and trustworthy your content will be.

Texas State University does this effectively by placing its students front and center in its Shorts, just like in this video featuring advice for new first-year students:

Not only does this content play well with audiences, but it’s also comparatively easy (and cheap!) to create — especially for higher ed institutions with ready access to a vast, on-site audience of willing participants.

10. Liquid Death

Remember, people don’t watch YouTube Shorts to learn about the stuff you sell — they want to be entertained. This presents a real challenge for marketers: you want your product to be front and center, but at the same time, you need people to keep watching.

Liquid Death understands that it’s possible to do both; you just need to get a little creative.

Take the following example:

On one hand, this whole video is basically an insult — it’s all about how terrible Liquid Death’s branding looks. It’s a weird choice for a marketing video, right?

But it works because it’s funny, so you want to keep watching. Plus, the Liquid Death can remains on-screen the whole time, so it does a fantastic job promoting the brand’s product.

Clever stuff!

Want to learn more about leveraging new platforms, tools, and features in your social media strategy? Sign up for one of our upcoming social media conferences.

Featured image by Freepik.




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