Social Media Companies Mess Up
Everywhere we turn we can’t stop seeing the social media giants (Snap, Instagram, YouTube, Twitch) push short form videos. Is there really data to justify this or is this a reaction to the rise of the controversial platform where short form video really took off, TikTok? Many things have been crammed down our throats from the social media companies and technology giants like newsfeed, photo tagging, and shoppable commerce that have now become commonplace. On the flip side, we remember things like ICOs, FourSquare (or Gowalla), the YO app that failed even with a ton of funding and publicity.
Companies also fail, Vine, acquired by Twitter, was one of the pioneers of short form video content but failed due to its lack of creator support. More recently, Facebook shuttered its Substack clone, Bulletin.
Finally, copies can live in tandem with the originator. Facebook’s newsfeed was in direct response to Twitter, while Instagram stories was built to challenge Snap’s ephemeral content.
Short Form Video Push
Anyway, as we move into short form video content, we notice that YouTube has opened up a shorts cafe in the heart of New York (in Soho on Broadway) and Instagram has been prioritizing Reels as has its parent site Facebook. Snap has been calling attention to short form videos for the last few years. Twitch started with short form videos albeit focused on gamers. In addition, these companies have modified their terms of service for creators, with the goal being to get more people to create short form content (as opposed to only a few that have the wherewithal to create longer form video content).
So, going back to the original question, is this driven by data or by the desire to jump on a trend and prevent TikTok from getting further traction?
Pros and Cons
First the pros behind short form video.
- It’s the right length. BuzzFeed, and other sites have proben that we all have limited attention spans.
- In general people care less about affecting others around them. Sadly etiquette has gone out the window as I’m noticing (anecdotally) more people watching videos in public places without headphones. Thus, the “you’re in public” argument goes out the window.
- Video has higher engagement and thus higher ad rates than any other advertising format.
- Video is the language that the kids of today have grown up with. Instead of writing essays, some kids opt to create a movie.
And now the cons of short form video:
- It still is a lot of work. Written words are still easier (at least in my opinion). You don’t need to find actors, camera angles, lighting, and sets. But maybe that will change as more “creator spaces” pop up.
- The linear nature of video is not appealing to a lot of people. A 2 minute video still takes 2 minutes to consume, whereas an article which the publisher (or algorithm) might think it takes 5 minutes to read, can be read in 3 minutes. (Yet, this is why ad rates are high, because the engagement is higher, content (or ads) can’t be skipped).
- Videos are hard to consume in public places, especially at work. However, this is changing because of selfish consumption habits (see above) and the work from home trend.
The jury is still out whether TikTok is successful because its TikTok or because its short form video. Either way, we don’t think TikTok will be going anywhere by itself (maybe because of government regulations) in the next five years.
What do you think? Are you a short form video creator? What do you think of the new monetization rules? Drop us a note and let us know what you think!