YouTube Stories are getting the axe. Originally called YouTube Reels (yes, Instagram lifted the name), the feature was one of YouTube's first forays into supporting short-form content.
Anybody still using YouTube Stories needs to make peace with the platform by June 26th, when the ability to post the short, disappearing clips goes away. After that, all existing Stories will expire within seven days.
What Were YouTube Stories?
YouTube Stories were first called "Reels" and made available to anybody with more than 10,000 subscribers all the way back in 2017. The premise essentially lifted directly from Instagram popular stories feature, which lifted directly from Snapchat's, well, core feature. Users posted short clips to their dedicated following that disappeared after a short amount of time (typically seven days on YouTube, compared to the normal 24 hours for other platforms).
YouTube Stories opened up to more users in 2018. The initial launch seemed to be in response to a desire for more people to engage their YouTube following the way you might engage a social media audience. After all, with most popular YouTube channels spending more time creating longer videos uploaded less often, YouTube was facing a pretty big gap between itself and platforms that creators engaged with every day.
YouTube really isn't a social media platform in the traditional sense, but it certainly seems to be angling itself more like one.
YouTube Stories quietly persisted throughout the platform's multiple iterations over the following five years. And while exact usage stats for YouTube Stories isn't available, Sprout Social reports that up to 22 percent of marketers were using YouTube Stories in their marketing plans.
Why YouTube Stories Are Getting The Heave-Ho
When YouTube announced the decision to kill off the Stories feature, the company didn't provide an exact reason for the decision. It said the primary goal was to focus on other features on the platform.
Reading between the lines there, it's not unreasonable to deduce that Stories just wasn't as popular as the company had hoped. Especially compared to YouTube Shorts, which have absolutely ballooned on the platform over the past year.
While TikTok still leads the short-form vertical content pack, Instagram Reels aren't far behind. YouTube Shorts have a little ways to go in catching up, but have shown impressive growth since rolling out to everybody. YouTube Shorts also seem to be a viable contender in the face of potential or actual TikTok bans in various countries.
What You Can Do In Place Of YouTube Stories
No surprise here, but YouTube thinks that if you were posting Stories before, you should just go ahead and start posting Shorts. The company is continually iterating on the experience, trying to make it as addictive as its TikTok and Instagram counterparts. Of course, there are still a lot of features missing from YouTube Shorts. It is, subjectively, not as fun as an experience to use as a creator.
However, YouTube Shorts are proven channel growers. Creators who mix their usual long-form content with a few Shorts per week typically see notable audience growth. Plus, it doesn't hurt that YouTube was one of the fastest companies to monetize the feature for creators.
The other feature YouTube is leaning on to help creators foster their community without feeling the need to make more regular videos is community posts. These posts are text-based and also allow you to poll your audience or share other information without going heavy into content (kind of like a Patreon post).
While it's never fun to see a platform sunset a feature, the jump to Shorts shouldn't be too difficult for users who enjoyed making YouTube Stories. Just remember to always think "audience first" and you'll find a way to bridge the gap in no time.