The Rise of Short-Form Video & the Gen Z Social Revolution

Kris Boger - Head of Product Marketing, Europe at TikTok

Short form video is here to stay and it brings great benefits for brands, says TikTok's Head of Product Marketing - Europe, Kris Boger

The fact that short-form video’s popularity is increasing probably won’t be news to you, but what is driving its rise? And what does it mean for brands looking to connect with customers through the format?

We lead busy lives; we have shorter and shorter attention spans and are used to having all the information we could ever need in the palm of our hands. While this has infinite benefits in connecting us with the world around us, for marketers it means that the competition for people’s attention has never been tougher.

Think about the last time you used your phone – in fact, you’re probably using it right now to read this. How many times has a notification, an advert or an urge to check another app distracted you from what you were doing at a moment in time? 

This sense of being pulled in all directions is felt by most of us today, but it is strongest amongst younger generations. Gen Z typically have an attention span of just 8 seconds; a few seconds shorter than millennials, who come in at approximately 12 seconds.

It’s no surprise then, that short-form video has seen its popularity surge in recent years, with these generations leading the way in consuming it.

What is short-form video?
With a running length of seconds or minutes, short-form videos are a snappy way to create, share and inspire viewers. For brands, the format offers an effective and exciting way to reach audiences they may not have been able to before, by engaging them with short, impactful video messaging that consumers can relate to.

For both individuals and brands, short-form video provides the space to push traditional boundaries and enter into a fun, creative environment that is loved by a diverse range of users – essential for capturing imaginations, driving engagement, and increasing brand affinity.

Platforms such as TikTok offer brands a great opportunity to achieve their marketing goals; to form new connections and build consumer advocacy amongst a continuously growing audience in a brand safe environment.

Benefits for brands
Many brands are recognising the power of short-form video and including it as a central feature of their marketing strategies, particularly those looking to target diverse, engaged, and younger audiences, who can be notoriously difficult to reach.

Done right, short-form videos can cater to increasingly short attention spans, while removing deliberation amongst viewers about whether they should keep watching or not. But, importantly, brand content needs to have creativity and authenticity at its heart to really capture an audience’s imagination and drive results. 

Imaginative, fun content that people love creating and consuming is the cornerstone of short-form video. Brands can invest heavily in the area, but unless they truly get into the mindset of their audience, the authenticity won’t be there, and the opportunity for genuine engagement is lost.

Immersive experiences
Short-form video is so powerful because it can create immersive experiences for users that in turn can drive impressive results for brands. Innovative video formats, and ‘sound-on’ by default environments mean users are always engaging with something new, creating a combination of visual and audio stimulation that is hard to turn away from. Videos are discovered through a content graph instead of social connections, and this is what drives the surprise and joy that comes from each video being something new the user hasn’t actively looked for.

When you enter an app like TikTok, you are met with an avalanche of new trends, which emerge and evolve on a daily basis. These include performing the dance routine to a new song, seeing a beauty hack that shows you how you should really be using dry shampoo, or helping to drive a new trend through a Hashtag Challenge. There are a huge amount of possibilities for brands to join in with these trends, and therefore have a voice in the conversations that are shaping today’s culture.

The role of sound
A key element of short-form video is sound and music - its prominent role means all videos on our platform have a soundtrack. As such, music discovery is a natural by-product of TikTok’s short-form video content, teasing people’s interest in a song that they then seek out and use in their creations. For example, “Dance Monkey” by Tones and I, which topped Spotify’s Global 50 list, was driven significantly by its use as the backing track to more than 4 million short-form videos.

Similarly, Doja Cat rose to fame after her song ‘Say So’ went viral across short-form videos. 'Say So' inspired a generation to perform a memorable dance routine that's now been performed by millions of users. The track has amassed hundreds of millions of streams across multiple platforms and has since charted globally.

Short-form video is here to stay
In a challenging year for us all, the coronavirus pandemic has seen a rise in the consumption of short-form video, which has risen further in popularity as most of us spent more time at home during lockdown and are looking for a distraction from the world around us. Undoubtedly short-for video is keeping people, especially young people, entertained, informed and engaged. In short, short-form video is here to stay. We look forward to seeing it fully cement itself as a permanent, effective and important way for brands to reach consumers for years to come.

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Written by

Kris Boger

Head of Product Marketing, Europe at TikTok


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