Guest post by Jake Robert, Virtual Studio Coordinator
Jake Robert is the Short Form Video Lead at Arcbound. He draws on his background in film to direct the production of short-form video content for clients. Jake has studied the ins and outs of social media content creation and gathered hundreds of thousands of views on his work.
In our fast-paced digital age, attention has become a prized commodity. With instant gratification at everyone’s fingertips, capturing it has become even harder. A recent study by Microsoft Canada highlights a concerning trend: Over the past two decades, our average attention span has dwindled from an already brief 12 seconds to a measly eight seconds. The repercussions of this shift are vividly evident in our contemporary media consumption habits, where short-form video content has quietly risen to dominance.
The emergence of short-form video as the prevailing online content format represents a fascinating trajectory that commenced around 2012 with the advent of Vine, a now-defunct social media platform. Vine’s distinctive feature limited creators to a concise six-second video format, igniting a frenzy of creativity among users who reveled in the brevity and the comedic opportunities it posed. It became the go-to platform for sharing jokes, skits, and even bizarre occurrences, like a viral video of a baby who’s sister covered them in peanut butter when their parents stepped away.
Musical.ly, a platform initially known for out-of-sync lip-syncing videos, soon posed a formidable challenge to Vine’s dominance in the short-form video content arena. Eventually, Chinese tech giant Bytedance acquired Musical.ly and rebranded it as TikTok, effectively extinguishing any hopes of Vine’s resurgence.
Today, TikTok stands as a digital titan with a staggering one billion monthly active users, surpassing even Google as a premier search destination. Its diverse content landscape spans medical and financial advice, live sports streams, and product reviews, encapsulating the full spectrum of human interests and curiosities.
What sets TikTok apart is not just its content diversity but its democratic nature, allowing ordinary users to shine as content creators. Whether it’s President Biden addressing the nation, or your neighbor Stan passionately dissecting his affinity for Milwaukee drills over Ryobi, both can attract millions of likes and views.
If you’ve got a message to share, the power of short-form video is undeniable. It has evolved into one of the swiftest routes to amassing a substantial, engaged social following. This ascent can be attributed in large part to the formidable algorithms platforms like TikTok use, crafting a perfectly tailored viewer experience through nuanced analysis of user preferences.
With that in mind, short-form video—deployed across a variety of platforms—serves as an indispensable tool for businesses and content creators seeking to reach their specific target audiences effectively. By embracing concise, engaging video content, you can capture fleeting attention spans and establish a direct connection with the individuals who are most likely to resonate with your messaging.
But success in this arena requires finesse. In a world where the competition for viewer attention is fierce, the first few seconds of a video can determine whether the audience sticks around long term. Short-form video content is an art, and crafting it involves a balance of brevity, engagement, and entertainment. If you aren’t able to lasso viewers attention, most algorithms will cease sharing your content with larger audiences.
How do you make video—and the algorithms—work in your favor?
Here are my five keys to creating compelling short-form:
- Start with the hook. The viewer should have an idea of what your video is about within the first four seconds. But don’t give away too much as you want the viewer to remain for the video’s duration. Create intrigue early and reveal the punchline late.
- Be an expert on your opinion. People aren’t flocking to short-form videos for facts they could easily find on Google. They want nuanced opinions from individuals with real experience. They watch creators who speak with conviction and passion. Simply put, opinions are generally entertaining and drive community engagement. Be sure about yours, and stay consistent from video to video. Viewers want to know where you stand.
- Be authentic. Drop the sales pitch and ditch the teleprompter. People don’t want polish—they want to see the real you. Don’t worry about high production value. Instead, imagine yourself sitting in a coffee shop conversing with your audience over a flat white. How would your tone of voice and choice of words change? That brings me to my next key.
- Connect with your audience. In this day and age, people look to video for connection. They see video as an opportunity to bond with you. Treat your audience like a valued customer and give them the content they’re asking for. Find ways to craft the information you’re presenting into the most compelling format (hint: storytelling is typically where it’s at!). Don’t leave it at that, either. Respond to follower comments to show that you’re engaged too. Doing so will build a strong sense of community.
- Look the part. Every visual detail affects the way your content is perceived. Use that insight to your advantage. Match your style to the impact you’d like to have. If you’re aiming to build authority, make sure you look the part: Dress in scrubs if you’re a doctor. Wear a suit if you are a lawyer. If you’re attempting to build a more casual relationship, you’re better off keeping things less formal.
While short-form video undeniably reigns supreme, it’s vital to acknowledge that not everyone aspires to become a video creator. The enduring appeal of long-form content, including books and in-depth podcasts, persists. What short-form content offers is a gateway, enticing individuals to sample a taste of a brand or creator’s offerings before committing to deeper engagement. In a digital landscape overflowing with options, these bite-sized introductions are key to sparking curiosity and preventing audiences from moving on to the next online distraction.
Note, too, that you don’t have to do it alone. Our team works with clients to create compelling video, handling every step of the process, from writing powerful prompts to directing, filming, and editing video into highly snackable, sharable content perfect for those short attention spans. One hour-long session can be turned into tens of clips that can be distributed across multiple channels.