YouTube Stories: what they are and how to use them strategically

Are Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat stories familiar to you, but you’re unsure about YouTube Stories?

You might have heard of them, but you’re unclear about what sets them apart and how they differ from Shorts, a more recent feature.

Would you like to learn more about creating them and, most importantly, how they can strategically help promote your channel or business

To find this information, along with understanding the strategic dynamics of viral marketing and video advertising, how to do SEO on YouTube, and how to monitor results with YouTube analytics through the YouTube Marketing Course and Social Media Manager Course.

You can also take a look at our Web Marketing Course and learn how to create a marketing strategy that integrates the web and Social Media.

Keep on reading the article, and you’ll get more detailed insights into:

  • What YouTube Stories are?
  • How you can create your own stories on YouTube?
  • How you can strategically use YouTube Stories?

What are YouTube Stories

YouTube Stories have been designed with specific features that distinguish them from videos and stories on other social channels.

An important difference compared to other social networks is that YouTube Stories are available only for those managing a YouTube channel with at least 10,000 subscribers.

This means both channel owners and creators find in this tool a way to communicate more informally and quickly with subscribers and followers, providing short content comprising images and videos.

Notably, YouTube stories are accessible only on mobile devices. They were created with a specific goal, to allow you to connect with your audience informally and wherever you are.

For YouTube, the purpose was also to encourage greater use of the smartphone app, and the way stories were “designed” – as we’ll see – is well-suited for this purpose.

Another unique aspect is the duration of the publication, while competitors have a 24-hour story duration, here they remain active for a full seven days, a truly significant visibility difference.

Additionally, you have maximum flexibility, there’s no limit to the number of stories you can publish to reach your followers, and they can be progressive as content to present. Just stay within the 15-second duration for each video.


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YouTube Stories vs Shorts

Recently, YouTube, aiming to remain the second most-used search engine globally, has introduced a new feature called Shorts.

Following the success of short videos on TikTok, it was inevitable to have a similar version on this platform. YouTube Shorts were introduced in India in 2020 to test their functionality and popularity and are now available worldwide.

They can be found on the home page of the mobile app, and one of the main differences is that Shorts can be created by everyone, without the restriction of followers.

You can, for example, transform your existing videos on your channel into Shorts, with a maximum duration of 60 seconds (in vertical format). They do not have an expiration date, unlike Stories, there is no progression.

You can use the platform’s specially designed multi-segment camera to combine multiple clips, and there is also a music library available. Like TikTok, you can leave comments, give likes, and share Shorts.

Compared to traditional videos, you need to include #Shorts in the title or description to help the search engine identify the type of content.

From a corporate marketing perspective, the new YouTube Shorts feature could be used to focus on, respond to, or provide insights on a particular aspect since Shorts do not require the longer duration of a traditional YouTube video.

Alternatively, they can be used to present a fragment of a video that links to the complete video for more in-depth information.

For creators, it should be noted that a fund has been established to reward original and creative Shorts appreciated by the YouTube community. It started in October 2021, and the requirements can be found on Google.

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How YouTube stories work

Creating and publishing YouTube Stories is not a complex process, and editing them before publishing is intuitive, following a few simple steps.

You also have various tools available—adding a photo, a link, or music—that allow for a lot of creativity and flexibility based on your starting needs.

Another important aspect to remember is that it is possible to monitor their performance, even in the case of multiple stories, to understand which formats are more appreciated and make any necessary adjustments. 

Access the YouTube app and create your story

Firstly, you need to access the YouTube Play app, not through YouTube Studio. This has the advantage that YouTube Stories are more immediate and accessible for creators.

The second step is to click the camera icon in the top right (in the navigation bar), then select the “Create a Story” icon.

Finally, you can add a photo upload a previously saved video on your smartphone, or take a photo and create a video on the spot and add it.

Publish the story to make it visible

Before publishing your Story, follow the editing phase where you can, for example, add music, edit text, insert a video link, add stickers, and more, thanks to a series of tools provided to make a story original and engaging.

Once you have saved the changes by clicking “Save”, you are ready to publish it by clicking “Publish”. If you want to delete it, perhaps because you don’t like it, simply click on the story and go to the three dots at the top of the menu, then click “Delete”.

YouTube Stories are visible at the top of the “Subscriptions” (collections) feed, the YouTuber’s channel, or can be found on the Home page. 

There are two options, you can watch the most recent story (recognizable with a red circle around the profile), or view all the stories of a YouTuber by going to the “Stories” tab of the channel and then click the thumbnail to view.

To move to the next video, click to the right of the player.

Monitor performance

You can check both the number of views and comments for each story post or their total related to the entire story. In both cases, the information is located at the bottom of the player.

This option is also very useful for multiple stories to understand which formats are more appreciated or, finally, to customize content based on generated visits.


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Tips for using YouTube stories strategically

YouTube Stories can have various benefits, considering their characteristics, primarily their duration but also the fact that they are an excellent tool for engaging the community.

This naturally leads to a spontaneous question, do they generate income?

  • Take advantage of their short duration: compared to regular videos, they allow for a good return. Keep in mind that YouTube stories should be seen as a tool, an additional opportunity (compared to actual videos) to communicate directly with your subscribers, not as a replacement. For example, if you are a creator, use them to promote your channels. You can use them to tease upcoming videos and inform followers about channel updates. If you are a company, you can showcase a new product launch or a new collection, and discuss the story behind a product, and how it’s made. You can use features in YouTube Stories like the Breaking News sticker to grab attention. You can also include a link that directs to the full press release or a website landing page with news about the new product. Another option, if you are a company, is to collaborate with a YouTuber/Influencer who advertises your products through their Stories. Also, remember that YouTube Stories are the ideal tool for creating multiple stories, composed of various individual videos that are simultaneously online.
  • Engage and grow your community: what has been said leads to another strategic aspect. YouTube Stories enhance your image and community through various available functions such as image sharing, creating polls and stories, as well as editing and sharing, and product placement. You can read followers’ comments, respond in a personalized way with the reply option (adding a photo or video), ask questions, interact with users if you offer a service/product that can meet their requests, and get feedback from the audience through comments. Followers can comment on stories with likes or by writing a message. Comments are visible all the time. The comment moderation settings you have chosen for your regular videos also apply to YouTube Stories, so you can save, review, remove, report, or hide comments.

  • Forge Collaborations to Expand the Market: why not leverage them to establish partnerships with companies offering complementary products or services (non-competitors) and mutually support each other? A suggestion, approach a potential partner, and ask them to send you one or more videos explaining what they do, which you can upload to your story. You can reciprocate by sending them your videos, thereby gaining mutual benefits in terms of increased visibility in a new market for both of you. Moreover, if both of you become moderators of the comments, you can manage your comments and direct them to the respective story feeds.
  • Generate Leads: one of the simplest ways to generate leads and, consequently, subscribers/customers is to post a story containing a specific question to answer in the comments. You can also add a comment with a specific CTA (Call To Action) and a link that can be used, for example, to increase registrations for a webinar, course enrollments, traffic to your channel/website, and so on. Keep in mind that YouTube Stories are visible to both subscribers and non-subscribers, this significantly increases the visibility of the published content. Non-subscribers can find it in the “Home” tab and the “Up Next” list below the videos. If they want to subscribe while watching the story, they can click the “Subscribe” button within the video. Subscribers, on the other hand, access it through the mobile app via the “Subscriptions” icon at the bottom of the screen.

Conclusion and strategic advice

As you’ve seen, to make the most of YouTube Stories, you need knowledge of both YouTube and social media in general.

To become an expert in their management and in creating an effective digital strategy, I recommend exploring the extensive Social Media Marketing training from Digital Coach.

You can choose the most suitable paths for yourself or your employees, depending on your business needs.

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