The importance of short-form videos on social media in 2021 and the years to come

Key highlights and takeaways:

  • Short-form videos are one of the most important trends for social media in 2021.
  • The modern-day social media user’s attention span has significantly decreased. This has created a way for marketers to target these users with shorter videos.
  • If used strategically, short-form videos can drastically improve a brand’s social media presence by increasing engagement rate and awareness.

What is the deal with short-form videos on social media?

TikTok, Reels, and other short-form videos are pretty much taking over the internet, being among its most commonly uploaded content types. Not only are they getting the highest numbers of engagement compared to other content types such as gifs, pictures, text, etc., but they are also getting an increase in upload, i.e. more people are uploading short-form videos than ever before. Such a trend was seen before with Stories. Back when Snapchat started getting a spike in users thanks to its then-revolutionary type of content (stories or short-form videos that disappear after 24 hours), Instagram was quick to snatch that and add it to its platform which has taken from Snapchat’s users and increased the numbers of uploads on Instagram. It also shifted the engagement from posts to Stories on Instagram. Then, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and other social media platforms started copying that by incorporating their own version of “Stories” on their platforms. This is what’s currently going on with short-form videos. After TikTok’s success with its short-form videos, Instagram introduced its own version of these short videos, called “Reels.” Even though these tend to be shorter than TikTok’s videos (15 and 30-second videos compared to 30 and 60-second videos), they are still creating a new trend or pattern in the type of content that people are interested in. As a matter of fact, with 2020 coming to an end, Reels are witnessing higher engagement rates while Stories and posts are seeing their engagement rates decline. We are even expecting an even bigger increase in engagement once more creators and brands start creating their own reals on Instagram in 2021 and in the years to come.

Why are we witnessing this trend?

Well, there are many reasons why short-form videos are taking over the digital content realm. However, one of the most important reasons behind such a pattern is related to the modern-day consumer. In fact, people these days have short attention spans. According to research, our attention span has significantly decreased throughout the years. Indeed, the average attention span went from 12 seconds back in 2000 to 8.21 seconds in 2015, and it keeps on getting shorter and shorter. In order to fight back against this fact and keep the modern-day customer and social media users interested in what they are seeing, marketers need to constantly stimulate them. An easy way of doing so is through short-form videos, as it tends to be difficult to keep the interest of someone using long-form videos. Another reason why short-form videos are booming is due to the fact that not only social media users but also pretty much everyone is constantly triggered by plenty of content and other triggers. Hence, it tends to be tough to grab the attention of someone with all of these attention grabbers. Additionally, FOMO, or the fear of missing out, also had something to do with it. In fact, it all started with the 24-hour content type (Stories, first introduced by Snapchat). This type of content tapped into people’s fear of missing out on what others are doing knowing that if they do not watch the content within 24 hours of it being uploaded they will not be able to watch it again. This has created a need for people to watch content types other than static posts which are available for consumption no matter when.

How can we benefit from this trend?

Short-form videos offer many benefits and advantages for your business. Here are some ways that might help you reap rewards:

  • Short-form videos are way easier to remember: One factor which can significantly positively impact you is having content that is easier to remember by your audience. Not only do short-form videos hit the spot for people with decreasing attention spans, but they also tend to be easier to remember. For instance, while remembering a 2-minute video is not something to be expected for the average social media user, a 15-second short video can definitely be remembered if it correctly stimulates and interests the viewer.
  • People almost always finish watching short-form videos: According to research, 53 percent of videos that are 90 seconds or less are fully watched. However, this is not the case for longer videos that have a completion rate of around 10 percent.
  • Short-form videos are significantly cheaper to produce than longer videos: This one’s pretty logical… It will definitely take less money, time, and personnel to produce a short video. Why opt for the more expensive product knowing that the cheaper one outperforms it almost all the time?

Are there any tips to best utilize short-form videos on social media?

Of course, and here are the most important tips you need to keep in mind in order to fully grasp the benefits of short-form videos on your social media platforms:

  • Include an attention-grabber: People do not view or consume your content (gifs, memes, pictures, texts, etc.) if they are not interested in it, so why would you expect them to watch your short-form videos if nothing is triggering an interest? Including an attention-grabber is a must to make sure that something about your short-form video actually grabs the attention of your target audience in order to watch it and hopefully engaging with it. One way of doing that is by focusing on the thumbnail by making it as eye-catching as possible. Second, the first few seconds of your video are the most important seconds when it comes to captivating them. In fact, according to research, 65% of viewers who watch the first three seconds of a video will continue on to at least the ten-second mark, and 45% will watch for thirty seconds. Do you know what this means? The shorter your video is the better it is, which takes us to our second tip.
  • Keep it short… really: With the average consumer bombarded with hundreds of triggers every time they try to do something, keeping their attention focused on your particular content online is a tough job. This is why it is recommended to keep your videos as short as possible. The reason behind this is quite simple as the shorter your video is, the higher its completion rate tends to be.
  • Optimize it for social media and social sharing: Create your short-form videos, and really any type of content you are producing for your social media platform, in a way that is optimized for social sharing and viewing. Have shots that are easily seen by viewers and avoid text that is too small to be easily read by your audience. Additionally, you need to make sure that you are creating different versions of your short-form video. The reason why you will need altered versions is mainly due to the best aspect ratio for every platform. What works on TikTok will not necessarily work on Twitter Stories, Reels, Facebook Stories, etc.
  • Know what to include in your short-form videos: We get it, it sometimes is a tough job coming up with ideas for your content. Here are some ideas that are sure to help you win your audience with your short videos. Film videos that show people how to do something; it is always recommended that the content is related to your industry or your business. Highlight your brand’s skills and area(s) of expertise. Show some behind the scenes or introduce your employees to the world. Use short-form videos for branding purposes. Use humor if the situation permits it. Indeed, funny content tends to be dramatically circulated and shared on various social media platforms.

What is the future looking like for short-form videos on various social media platforms?

You can expect to have a domination of short-form videos throughout 2021 and even in the years to come. People’s attention spans are not going to increase. On the contrary, the average attention span is constantly decreasing, which means that the shorter the video is the better it is for both the brand and the viewer. Does this mean that pictures are going to get more engagement? Not necessarily. As a matter of fact, the modern-day consumer is uninterested in static posts as they do not grab their attention as much as videos do. This is further proven by research that shows that 59 percent of senior executives would rather watch a video than read text, when both are available. However, aim to have shorter videos. Indeed, stick to 15-second Reels for the time being as they outperformed the 30-second Reels in terms of engagement rate.

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