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January 24, 2022

Honey, I Shrunk the Vids!

David Brashears

Short form video blog article.

How the short-form video content trend is here to stay.

For years, television content came in nice neat little packages of 20 or 40-minute episodes that were then blocked to provide commercial content windows for 15 or 30-second spots.  Then the web age opened the frontier for people to create their own content of any length and format.  With that change came a new era in audience behavior where advertising and marketing evolved and became more sophisticated in the way it analyzed and curated content for each user.  Branded content became a more viable option where relevant and compelling storytelling regarding the brand position, belief, and behavior could be shared with an audience in a way that mirrored the classic television episodic or even a full-feature film structure.

However, in the past few years, video content has become faster, tighter, and–most importantly–much much shorter. People’s content consumption has gone from 30-minute television episodes to 5 to 10 minute online videos, and now to 5 to 30-second content skits.  So, why the change and is it here to stay?  Let’s take a look at the behavior behind this short-form video trend, and we’ll give you some insights on why you need to be investing now to keep your loyalists connected with your brand position and message.

First, let’s answer the most obvious question.  Yes, you should be investing in video content.  Yes, that video content needs to be developed to be easily used in a host of different formats and lengths.  Yes, the short-form video should be a part of a complete multi-channel video content campaign strategy.  After all, a survey done by Animoto found that 93% of consumers they surveyed said that video content helps them make buying decisions—and it’s their #1 favorite kind of advertising to consume on social media.

Consumers Want Bite-Sized Content

People have a screen in front of them for a much larger percentage of their waking hours these days.  They are constantly being bombarded with new ads, banners, offers, and promotions demanding they make an immediate decision on what content they will engage.  That has led to a new consumer audience behavior that makes nearly-instantaneous judgments on what content has value to them.  Many have explained this as a severe reduction in modern consumers’ attention span, but I’m not sure that’s completely accurate.  There is still plenty of evidence that audiences are still up for listening to 1 to 2-hour podcasts, watching a 2-hour movie, or even listening to hours and hours of audiobooks.  People haven’t abandoned the classic longer-form content structure.  However, what modern consumers have become masters of is making near-immediate judgments about every piece of content they are presented with—thanks in no small part to the massive mountains of garbage content that have been thrown at them over the years. The modern audience is constantly reviewing, analyzing, and making judgment calls on everything they are presented with, and they don’t tend to look back.

So, that’s where the beauty and power of short-form video really start to shine, and why it has become so popular (and looks to be pretty sustainable moving forward).  Let’s think about it, if you spent all the money and time producing a really compelling branded content video and put it in front of your audience, they are going to take the same amount of time (on average about 8 seconds according to AdAge research) to make a decision about your content as they would with a 10 second skit.  So, if the first 8 to 10 seconds of your 30 minute branded video doesn’t capture their attention, the other 29:50 doesn’t really matter.  On the other hand, if you invest in creating sixty 10-second videos (that’s around 10 minutes of brand content), you get sixty opportunities to engage with a potential audience, rather than once.  You can start to see the appeal, right?


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Short Means Simple, Not Stupid

The other big thing we need to talk about is the content strategy behind short-form videos.  There are some fast and loose rules for building the kinds of short-form videos that will build equity between your brand and your loyalists. 

  1. Don’t Over-Produce – Most platforms where short-form video is reigning supreme are social media based (TikTok and Instagram are the leaders) and the content should reflect this.  It should have a candid feel of a video shot on a phone by an amateur.  If you create short form videos with perfect lighting, effects, professional actors, and great sound, you’re going to stand out in a bad way.  When a person is consuming funny little skit videos and rolls over to some highly produced piece of content, it takes them out of the experience and immediately reminds them they are watching a commercial from a company rather than having a community experience.
  2. Make It Interactive/Shareable – Your branded short-form content should regularly ask the audience to interact with the messaging.  With “duets,” polls, covers, and other interactive options available, your best content will be the videos that are clever and shareable among the community.  Come up with a fun challenge or interesting piece of media that people will want to take on as their own content.
  3. Keep it Clever and Relevant – The biggest challenge with short-form video content is getting enough of the brand’s position and message across in an extremely tight time limit while still having it be compelling and within the brand personality.  That means you don’t have time to share a 3 point presentation on why your brand is great, or why someone should buy your product.  In most cases, you don’t have time to share even one complete point.  Short-form is a Headline.  That’s the time you have.  So, come up with a ton of great “headline” concepts and see which ones perform.  The beauty of this media format is that you don’t have a ton of investment into one particular concept, so take full advantage by trying a lot of different things.  The key, though, is that it needs to be original, and it needs to resonate/reflect your brand’s sense-of-humor, convictions, and worldview. 

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Short-form video is not new, it’s been around in its modern form for over a decade now, and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.  Consumers like the low-stakes format where they can watch a lot of different messages in a very short amount of time.  If you want to build some groundswell around your brand campaign that you can use to guide them into more in-depth content like longer videos, articles, websites, etc., then you should be working with your agency partner to develop a short-form video strategy.  There’s never been a better time to build your cult brand community than right now.  So, reach out to our team, and we’ll help you build a video content strategy that will delight your audience.  Let’s show your brand loyalists that you understood the assignment!