The secret to viral YouTube Shorts success

YouTube Shorts help creators connect with their audience in a quick and engaging way. But what makes some YouTube Shorts more successful than others?

We looked at 1,000 YouTube Shorts from the top 100 U.S.-based YouTube channels, measuring their video tags, views per hour, length, and engagement rates to see what the most popular Shorts had in common. Our results give creators a guide on how to optimize their YouTube Shorts to get more views and engagement.

In this article, we’ll show you what makes a YouTube Short go viral, how sharing on social media can help, and why tags and descriptions are so important. By the end, you’ll have all the knowledge you need to create YouTube Shorts that stand out and get noticed.

Key takeaways



Analyzing top YouTube Shorts

So, what’s the secret sauce that makes these short-form YouTube videos successful? Let’s take a look at what the most viewed YouTube Shorts from the top U.S.-based YouTubers had in common.

The most popular YouTube Shorts got a ton of views — an average of 218.5 million per video. That’s about 12,900 views every hour! The most popular Shorts also had an average of 5.4 million likes.

Could these videos’ length make a difference in engagement? Shorts that were longer than 41 seconds got 31% more engagement on average than shorter ones. As for the subject matter, the most popular types of YouTube Shorts tended to be about entertainment. Almost half of the most viewed Shorts (49%) fell into this category.

If you don’t think much about tags or descriptions when making YouTube Shorts, you might want to give them a try. We found that, on average, the most popular YouTube Shorts had around 24 tags per video.

The Shorts that used tags adequately, meaning they had an adequate number of relevant tags optimizing their searchability and discoverability, got 7% more engagement than those that used very few tags. These videos either had too few tags or the tags weren’t detailed enough, so their visibility may have been more limited in search results.

For the most viewed YouTube Shorts with descriptions, the average length was 60 words. They also had 62% more comments than videos without descriptions.

But what percentage of the most viewed YouTube Shorts actually used which features? Here’s the breakdown:

The social reach of YouTube Shorts

YouTube Shorts aren’t just popular on YouTube — they can also make a big splash on other social media platforms. In this section, we’ll explore how cross-posting your Shorts across social media can take their reach to the next level.

We looked at top-performing YouTube Shorts’ VidIQ ratings: social engagement-based ratings ranging from “bad” to “great,” depending on Facebook likes and Reddit upvotes, comments, and posts. These engagement rates of the YouTube Shorts that were shared as Facebook videos were 29% higher than those not shared on Facebook and 56% more likely to have a “good” social engagement rating.

But, since only 41% of the most viewed YouTube Shorts were actually shared on Facebook, many creators may be missing out on social media engagement opportunities. For the best chance of YouTube Shorts success, share these videos on other social media channels, especially Facebook. It can help get your content in front of new audiences and encourage more interaction.

Putting YouTube Shorts to work

From picking the right length and category for your Shorts to using tags and descriptions effectively, our study gives creators a clear roadmap to make short-form content that performs at its best. Don’t forget about the power of cross-posting on social media — sharing your Shorts on platforms like Facebook can give them a big engagement boost.

Whether you’ve been making YouTube Shorts for a while or you’re just getting started, try out the different approaches we just discussed. See what works for your audience, and most importantly, have fun with it! You’ve got what it takes to make YouTube Shorts that stand out from the crowd.


For this campaign, we scraped 1,000 YouTube Shorts from the top 100 YouTubers in the U.S., as listed by Social Blade, with each video lasting up to 60 seconds. We analyzed each video using VidIQ to explore the strategies employed in the most viewed YouTube Shorts across these channels. The data was extracted from April 4-10, 2024

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