Video is everywhere. And as today’s largest social media platforms unequivocally prove, short-form video is King. But what defines a short-form video, where did it all start, and how can you make the most of it?

What exactly is short-form video?

A definitive definition of short-form video is elusive and debatable. So, for the sake of this blog post, we’re talking about true short-form video. Think TikTok, Instagram Stories, and Snapchat level short. With that in mind, that generally means anything up to and not exceeding about a minute in length.

If my memory serves and from my personal experience using these apps, I’d distribute credit for the pioneering of short-form video as follows:

  • Snapchat for being the first platform to introduce the now-ubiquitous “stories” feature.
  • Now defunct video-sharing app Vine for pioneering short-form video content.
  • TikTok (formerly known as for rapidly excelling the popularity of short-form video content.
  • And Instagram for doing a pretty OK job at implementing all of these features in its own, unoriginal way.

Why is short-form video so popular and effective today?

Before doing any sort of digging on the topic, my initial gut instinct to explain the popularity of short-form video is simply: en masse attention span shrinkage. While this is not the only variable at play, it’s certainly a large one.

We can also credit the success of short-form video to its repeatability. From a business and marketing perspective, someone is way more likely to fully watch/engage with, and even re-watch/re-engage with short-form video content than they are with longer-form content. And further still is its ability to be easy ‘meme’d’ and reused. Today, memeable content is viral content, and viral content gets seen by a lot of people. Take a look at the Twitter brand accounts for Wendy’s and Slim Jim — both are great examples of brands that have shifted their tone to better identify with a younger audience. They’ve fully embraced this sort of meme culture that’s taken over the internet, and their impressions are massive because of it.

The length of and likeliness for users to re-engage with short-form video content is why we see it go viral more often than long-form content. It’s one of the incredibly important tools that brands, like Wendy’s and Slim Jim, are using to connect with their audiences. We first witnessed this with Vine back in its heyday in 2013, and we continue to observe it happening and growing on platforms like TikTok.

The rise of TikTok and how it’s changed the game

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Speaking of TikTok, it’s nearly impossible to overlook the platform in today’s social media landscape. And with over 1 billion monthly active users, it shouldn’t be ignored. Ever since Vine’s demise, creators who largely become known for short-form video content were looking for a new place to share their work. Not only that, a new generation of creators has integrated with and even taken over Vine’s first hugely successful predecessor.

The main takeaway for businesses and their marketing departments is that: this format works and people like it. So how do you make the most of it?

What makes a good short-form video for marketing?

TikTok has really nailed it in terms of ad integration on their platform. Ads are interspersed on users’ feeds seamlessly between creator videos — no popups or intrusive tactics. That said, a good short-form marketing video should appeal to the platform’s audience and integrate seamlessly into the user’s feed without feeling forced. This method has been so successful that other platforms have adopted it also.

While it’s true that we got our start in more traditional video marketing more than 20 years ago, our working knowledge of the digital landscape continues to evolve. Short-form video still uses a lot of best practices that are prevalent in traditional marketing, and it’s important that you know how to best implement them. We offer training courses and professional video services that are sure to level up your short-form video marketing game.