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In a recent edition of her “3 Things for Thursday” newsletter, social media engagement genius Lori Lewis said that if there’s one thing you do new in 2022, it’s to make short-form, vertical video a priority (think TikTok.)

TikTok has now overtaken YouTube in US average watch time. It’s the most downloaded app globally and has surpassed 1 billion monthly users. Moreover, in a recent survey of the most popular apps in 2021, TikTok surpassed the almighty Google to grab the top spot. 

Recognizing the trend, Instagram has followed suit, saying that they no longer consider themselves a “photo-sharing app.” Instead, they are giving priority to their Reels content.

And lest you think, “TikTok is only for teenagers,” keep in mind that a third of its users are over 30. And the largest portion of their demographic has a household income of over $100k per year. Needless to say, these numbers mean we should be paying attention to the mania.

My purpose is not to encourage you to incorporate TikTok into your social media strategy. I’ll leave that for people much smarter than me. You have to decide for yourself if it fits into your overall social plan and whether you will get enough ROI out of your efforts. However, I am saying that this is a trend too significant to ignore. People are now consuming video in the short-form, vertical format. Our highly-produced, professional videos might still have some relevance, but not nearly as much as they once did. Users expect videos to be short, vertical, and easily consumed, whether on Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok.

Three things to keep in mind:

  1. Keep it relevant. Spend some time on the app getting to know the culture. If you haven’t watched videos in this format, they definitely have their own style and rhythm. As with any community you enter, you need to speak the language and respect their rules. You can’t communicate with people who aren’t listening. 
  2. Keep it interesting. Short-form video on platforms like TikTok has made attention spans even quicker than they already were. That means the first 3-5 seconds are critical to keeping their attention. Then use multiple hooks throughout the video to keep their attention. TikTok’s research on their ad platform shows that videos using a variety of scenes saw a 38% lift in conversions.Recently I heard someone say, “in a world where information is cheap, attention is expensive.” So work hard to get their attention, then work even harder to keep it.
  3. Keep it short. Again, TikTok’s research shows ads between 21-34 seconds long experienced a 280% lift in conversions. Most platforms allow videos longer than that, but that doesn’t mean you should use all that time. It’s like the old radio adage: It’s too long only when it becomes uninteresting.

Again, I’m not pushing you to start TikTokking (is that a word?) But you should be thinking about what people want, and the most popular app in the world is a pretty clear indication of what they want. 

Attention spans are dwindling, currently at the level of a housefly. “Snackable content” is here to stay. So instead of complaining, let’s think about how we can use it for good:

  • Send out quick videos to your audience on a texting or email platform. 
  • Find someone on your staff whose job is to push out new videos regularly. 
  • Have your air talent post quick videos from the studio.

The possibilities are endless. Have fun. Be creative. Talk to people in the language of the day. Like it or not, there’s no going back.

P.S. If you’d like help planning or executing your social media strategy, Vidare Creative has a partnership with Killer Bee Marketing. Contact paul@vidarecreative.com for more information.