Why Short-Form Video is the Future of Marketing
April 1st, 2022
By Miranda Soong
Courtesy of Dribbble.com
I think we all can agree that TikTok is one of the biggest media platforms on the internet today. With its rapid growth over the past few years, the app has become a model for success in this new digital age of media consumption. As a result of TikTok’s dominance on the internet, the emergence of short-form video content has solidified its place in consumer culture and marketing strategy. So now that more companies are attempting to emulate TikTok’s short-form video concept, like Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts, is short-form video content the new standard for the future of marketing?
The Demands of the Attention Economy
Courtesy of The Reboot
Whenever I come across a video on Instagram, YouTube, or TikTok, one of the first things I notice is the length of the video. Most of the time, I would probably choose to watch multiple shorter videos, rather than a 10-minute long video. With the rise in the amount of content that is available nowadays, consumers (especially Gen Z consumers, like me) have developed shorter attention spans as our brains have essentially been rewired to crave constant stimulation––around 8 seconds, as research shows. Additionally, according to Deloitte, the proportion of US consumers who watch short-form video (15 minutes or less) grew to 74% in 2018––composed of 84% of Gen Z and 81% of Millennials. This research exemplifies how consumers now demand content that is shorter, more “snackable,” and quick to the point; therefore, they are more likely to be receptive and responsive to marketing and advertising in this shorter format.
The Psychology of Short-Form Video
Now that we’ve established the demand for this shorter content, why do we, as consumers, actually prefer this type of content more? On the surface level, we know that this shorter format appeals to consumers more than longer video content because it falls within the limited time frame that our patience allots for each video. Due to the oversaturation of advertisements online, we’ve grown dismissive, overwhelmed, and more selective in the content we choose to engage and interact with. Thus, shorter, streamlined video content pushes marketers to increase the production value and effectiveness of their advertisements and content, which in turn, hooks the attention of consumers in a more efficient way.
Courtesy of Pew Research Center
We can also apply the concept of “social proof” to this discussion of the effectiveness of an advertisement. This refers to the social phenomenon in which when we feel uncertain, we often look towards others for answers on how to think, act, and behave. We see this phenomenon occur everywhere when it comes to consumption of goods and services, and particularly through influencer marketing and online reviews/ratings. According to Pew Research Center, roughly eight-in-ten Americans (82%) say they consult online ratings and reviews when they first buy something. Frankly, consumers often don’t know what they want until it’s shown to them. This is why companies are turning towards utilizing influencers, endorsements, affiliate deals, and brand partnerships to diversify their marketing and expand their reach in order to build genuine trust for their brand.
Relatability & Authenticity
With this trend of the reliance on “social proof” and influencer endorsements in consumer behavior, how are companies currently executing this strategy in their marketing efforts? I recently came across a TikTok video that sets this discussion up well: the young social media manager of Bed Bath & Beyond’s TikTok account participated in a TikTok trend that relied on the audio, but she was not able to use the trending audio due to licensing restrictions of the song. She expressed her frustration in trying to go viral on a brand account: “POV: you’re a social media manager and everyone’s asking you to go viral on TikTok but you don’t have access to any of the fun sounds.” In the past, this TikTok video may have seemed inappropriate for a brand to publicly expose their marketing struggles. But now, it’s actually deemed as relatable, humorous, and genuine in today’s consumer culture. The social media manager utilized self-deprecating humor and admitted a common struggle many social media managers also go through when trying to develop viral content for their brands’ accounts––something many other TikTok brand accounts seemed to resonate with in the comments of this video.
Duolingo's TikTok Account
This type of humor and intimate approach is something that clicks extremely well with younger audiences because these companies are adapting to the unfiltered and “unhinged” nature of popular culture on social media. Duolingo has a very notable and successful brand account on TikTok because of their creative freedom in content, quick participation in trends, and active interactions with users in the comments section––all of which really humanizes the brand and ultimately brings entertainment to the forefront rather than forced promotion of their offerings and services. I think we can all agree that consumers don’t enjoy being sold a product all the time, and Duolingo has successfully managed to detour from those traditional promotional strategies and instead appeal directly to popular culture and trends.
Short-Form Video is the Future
Due to the increasingly short attention spans of consumers in the attention economy, there has been a dramatic shift in overall consumer behavior, and consequently, in the traditional techniques marketers have relied upon for years. Now, marketers must shift their strategies around the consumer and adapt to the ever-changing trends in popular culture to stay relevant and relatable. So, props to all those social media managers out there running those TikTok brand accounts… you’re paving the way for the future of marketing!
About the Author
Miranda Soong is one of the Co-Content Directors this semester. She is a sophomore at NYU, pursuing Economics with a minor in the Business of Entertainment, Media, and Technology.