Short-form video refers to video content that is between five seconds and ninety seconds long. Short videos are intended to be quick, easily digestible content for viewers scrolling through social media production feeds or other outlets.
Common examples of short-form videos include TikTok videos, Instagram Stories and Reels, YouTube shorts, and Snapchat Spotlight and stories.
Short-form video content isn’t new. In fact, Vine – the short-form video app introduced in 2012 – was an early pioneer of the format. But what started as a niche platform has grown into something much larger, with tech giants like Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube catering to short attention spans and launching short-form video features of their own.
Today, TikTok is the most downloaded app in the world, and ranks number one for consumer spending according to a report by data.ai. Other short-form video platforms, like Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube, aren’t far behind.
This rise in popularity is due, in part, to the fact that short-form video is more accessible and engaging than ever before. With an average video length of 15-30 seconds, creators can deliver their message in a very small window of time – allowing viewers to consume content on the go with little to no commitment.
Data from Wyzowl found that 73% of consumers prefer to watch short-form videos when learning about a product or service.
Short-form videos can also be shared and watched from any device, which furthers their accessibility and popularity among users. From sending Snapchat stories on the subway to watching YouTube shorts in the dentist waiting room – viewers can access and engage with content at any time.
Short-form video is also generally cheap and easy to produce and requires minimal production effort. All you need is a smartphone and a good idea. Plus, hosting platforms like TikTok and Instagram are all free to use.
Platforms themselves are also tailored to user interests. TikToks algorithm suggests videos based on what users like to watch, while Instagram’s Explore page helps users discover new content that aligns with their interests. This focus on personalization and connection keeps viewers engaged with the platforms and your content.
In a nutshell, short-form video content is popular because:
Dive into short-form video marketing with these tips.
Most short-form video platforms are designed for content to be viewed on mobile devices in a vertical format.
Vertical formats allow videos to take up the full width of a phone screen, creating a more immersive and engaging experience for the viewer.
On platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat, users are used to scrolling through vertical feeds and will be more likely to watch your content if it’s in the same format. By contrast, horizontally-aligned videos can often appear small and difficult to view, resulting in lower engagement.
If you want to know the best sizes for content on every platform, check out our social media size guide.
Short-form video is just that: short. This means you only have a few seconds to capture your viewers’ attention.
Starting your video with a strong hook, through on-screen text, eye-catching visuals, or with a tantalizing story, can help draw your audience in and keep them watching.
The best types of short-form videos for marketing capture attention, evoke emotions, elicit action, and inspire engagement. Focus on creating an emotional narrative that will stick with viewers long after they finish watching.
Short-form video trends move fast, and the best creators are the ones who can stay ahead of the curve.
Are there sound bytes or songs that are being used again and again? Filters, animations, and visuals that you see posted day after day? Audiences are drawn to these trends, and incorporating them into your videos will increase the chances of your video reaching more people.
While short-form videos can technically be up to three minutes long, the best ones are less than a minute.
Short is the sweet spot on platforms like TikTok, which reported to WIRED Magazine that the optimal video length sits at a bite-size 11 to 17 seconds. In fact, the same report found that videos over 60 seconds actually stress users out – yikes.
Similarly, while Instagram reels can be up to 90 seconds long, Hootsuite reporting found that between 7 and 15 seconds is where you want to land.
Here’s a breakdown of ideal lengths on all short-form video platforms:
Consistency is key when it comes to short-form video marketing. Platforms like TikTok and Instagram prioritize accounts that post between three and five times per week, while platforms like Snapchat suggest posting multiple times per day.
Regular posting keeps your audience engaged and gives the platform’s algorithm enough content to choose from when surfacing videos. This will help you reach more viewers and build an audience of loyal followers.
Keep in mind that quality is just as important as quantity—be sure to post interesting and engaging content rather than simply churning out low-quality videos on a daily basis. Aim to spend some time refining each video and creating content that your audience will enjoy.
If you’re looking to reach a wider audience, teaming up with influencers or relevant brands can be highly effective. Data from Civic Science found that 14% of 18 to 24-year-olds reported purchasing products in the last six months due to a blogger or influencer recommending it.
Partnering with relevant brands and influencers can increase your reach and help create more engaging content for your short-form videos. Look for influencers with a similar target audience to yours with a good track record of producing high-quality content.
For brand partnerships, consider companies that have similar values to yours, or products that are complementary.
Bonus: Learn the basics of building an influencer marketing campaign in our complete guide.
One of the most significant barriers to brands and creators when it comes to short-form video content is resourcing. While a 15-second video might not seem like a lot of effort, creating original content does take time and effort.
Because of this, many brands opt to cross-post the same video across multiple social media platforms. While this can save time, it’s important to note that recycled content, especially content with clear watermarks, can hurt your rankings on platforms like Instagram.
In 2022, Instagram announced it would start prioritizing original content on its platform. This means that recycled content could be given less visibility, hurting your overall reach and engagement.
Does that mean you can’t cross-post at all? Well, not really. Check out our blog on removing TikTok watermarks so you can cross-post without getting penalized.
One of the best ways to leverage short-form video content as a brand is by showcasing your products in action. Explainer videos help potential customers visualize how and why they would use the product, building anticipation for it, if done correctly.
You can easily showcase a product’s features, benefits, and testimonials—all within a few seconds of viewing time. If your product has a niche use, like Vessi’s waterproof sneakers, show viewers all the ways they can use them in their everyday life.
Consider installation and set-up videos for more technical products. Your customers will appreciate the convenience and you’ll be able to better educate them on how your product works.
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