Short-form videos: is this the future of video?
Discover how short-form videos can increase audience engagement and gain advantage over the competition!
More than half of marketers (50 %) and more than 30% of social media marketers surveyed by HubSpot have integrated short-form video into their content strategy and they plan to increase their investment even further in 2022. There couldn’t be a more rational and forward-looking choice given that short-form videos produce a higher ROI than any other content, a fact that appears even stronger if we focus on social channels. Although this data would be enough to justify the use of short videos in your marketing plans, in this post we want to take the conversation even further and explain why the answer to the question in the title is, inevitably, a resounding yes. Short videos are extremely powerful tools that allow you to use a precious but increasingly scarce resource, namely the attention of the user-consumer, to gain an advantage over the competition and increase audience engagement.
A shrinking attention span
The average human attention span shrank by nearly a quarter between 2000 and 2015. While it stood at 12 seconds in 2000, now, 15 years later, it’s down to 8.25.
When it comes to maintaining focus on a given task or subject of conversation, we are more easily distracted than the proverbial goldfish (which has an attention span of just 9 long seconds).
It’s easy to see that it’s becoming increasingly difficult for marketers to make contact. Intercepting consumers who are less and less willing to give their time (even just 8 seconds), you’ll need to adapt traditional content and technologies to short forms, directing the action of communication in order to reach people despite the frenetic pace in which they live.
Recent research from Nielsen suggests that digital touchpoints that present a clear value proposition are able to hold people’s attention for much longer. In this regard, video continues to emerge as the most powerful and flexible tool. If it’s less than 2.7 minutes long, a video is also able to retain the majority of senior executives (59%), who, if given the choice, would much rather watch a video than read text.
How long does a short form video last?
The popularity of short form videos is closely linked to the proliferation of social media, which has contributed to further reduce the time beyond which people’s attention is lost over the past few years.
With the exception of videos on YouTube, which are most effective at at least 10 minutes in length, on other social platforms, the highest performing videos are much shorter.
For example, TikTok allows videos between 60 seconds and 3 minutes in length to be uploaded. A video on Twitter can last up to 2:20 minutes, while on Instagram Reels they can last up to 60 seconds. With the rise of platforms like TikTok, Reels, and Vine, short-form content has become the norm.
In general, we can conclude that the ideal duration of a short form video depends on the limitations and the platforms themselves. But even if there is no official length on which everyone agrees, short form those videos are generally considered to be those that last a maximum of 2 minutes and 30 seconds.
The short duration is obviously not a technical quality in itself. It’s a reaction to the infodemic that characterizes our days, and it imposes an effort of imagination on content creators that pushes them to acquire the skills necessary to create new content to convey the brand’s messages. (Two other examples of how video finds different solutions for the different needs of companies are infographic videos and corporate videos, which we discuss in our other posts).
How to differentiate short form videos: trend culture and audience
According to Hubspot, apart from the length, trend culture can also characterize short form videos. This observation has very interesting implications because it calls into question the distinctive characteristics of a brand, its value system, and its ability to update its communication in an omnichannel perspective in order to be able to make its content resonate with the expectations of the audience.
In the case of TikTok, for example, the forms of use and experimentation consist mainly of dances, sounds, and social challenges. Consequently, any brand that has wanted to make use of TikTok has had to do so by adapting itself – in an original way, in the best of cases – to these specific forms of expression, as they are imagined by the platform and actually acted upon by its users.
The other element of differentiation for short form videos is the target audience. Starting from the identification of different customer profiles, the company will create the most suitable short form video to respond to precise needs. For this reason, you must always take into account the channels used, the frequency, and the intentions.
The most popular short form videos brands will use in 2022
Among the short form videos that we will use the most in 2022, Hubspot points out 6: brand challenges, influencer ads, product teasers, user-generated content, and explainers or educational videos. Let’s take a look at each one.
1. Brand challenges
Yes, we are talking about the challenges of choreography, solos, and sound effects that TikTok has accustomed us to. This is how very short form videos are born. And brands, after the first moments of bewilderment, have quickly learned to channel the vitality and energy of the challenges to increase traffic, create community, and engage the audience.
2. Influencer Ads
Influencer marketing is not exclusively linked to short-form videos, but it has found a particularly fortunate trend in this format. Using famous personalities is also possible in this new, effective mode of communication that is capable of transmitting a feeling of authenticity, due to the effect of a (often illusory) “live capture” of moments of their private lives.
3. Product teaser
In digital and traditional advertising, teasers last between 6 and 60 seconds. They are short form videos that are structured in a way to create anticipation around a product or service. Brands use them on different platforms to promote their products in an organic way. Their production and distribution does not require a large budget. These videos possess certain qualities, typical of what Google calls Hero videos, that make them potentially viral.
4. User-generated content
User-generated content serves the same function as word-of-mouth or reviews written by people who use a certain product or service. They sound convincing because they inspire trust, and because they don’t come directly from the brand but are born in a context of sharing and co-production: this is why they are so successful among consumers. They contribute substantially to purchasing decisions and are therefore frequently used by brands throughout the funnel and especially in the decision and conversion phases.
5. Behind-the-Brand Videos
Genuineness, truth, transparency. In this case, short form videos capture, seemingly unmediated, a behind-the-scenes view of the brand. In this way, humanized, emotionally warmer content shows what goes on behind the company’s glitzy but sometimes distant official facade. Through this type of short form video, organizations raise the curtain and interact with their audience on a more open, deeper, and more personal level.
6. Explainer or educational video
Short form videos are also increasingly used to communicate educational brand content: tutorials, do-it-yourself, and explainer videos.
Given the ability of videos to provide useful information for product knowledge and a level of undertaking that helps users address their problems, more and more corporate decision-makers are including training in their agendas.
Explanatory videos are particularly effective in the decision-making phases because they can help clarify the potential customer’s last doubts. It is in this sense that they add value to marketing strategies: they improve lead generation and strengthen brand loyalty.
The secret to an effective short form video: balancing trend and brand identity
Marketing manager Kelsi Yamada, head of social campaigns at HubSpot, says short form videos are an easy and engaging way to connect with your audience. However, Yamada also warns about the potential backlash that can result from using short form videos in the wrong way, i.e., in a way that is inconsistent with the philosophy of the platform.
“Not every viral TikTok sound or meme format will align with your content strategy or brand, so don’t force it,”
Instead, Yamada advises focusing on your niche and trying to stay authentic first:
“Don’t be afraid to make something completely from scratch – trends have to start somewhere!”
Put another way, it’s about striking a balance between what’s trendy and what matches the brand’s identity and value system.
Why short form videos will dominate the digital space
Wyzowl’s 2020 report finds that as many as 84% of people base their purchasing decisions on what they see in a video. While it’s true that social media has caused a profound shift in the way we consume information, it’s also true that it has grown so dramatically because it has been able to leverage the incredible potential of video.
If we consider that rapid communication is essential to capture the ever-decreasing attentionpaid by audiences to brand content, we can easily understand how marketers today prioritize, on any platform, rapid, sometimes frantic content.
Short-form videos will continue to dominate the digital space for a number of reasons: not only because they allow users to consume more content on different platforms in the same amount of time (thus diversifying their media diet), but also because they entertain and inform at the same time.
Short videos, if professionally made – even better if they are made by specialists – offer companies the opportunity to show the salient features of products, services, and initiatives in a very short time.
Above all, thanks to a well-calibrated mix of graphics, music, and images, they establish a privileged relationship with the public. This relationship can then be enhanced by integrating it into a video strategy that uses data about the target audience to try to open and then maintain a vital dedicated communication channel that is calibrated to the actual preferences and buying habits of the individual consumer. In other words, a personalized channel.
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