Audience Engagement Guest Columns
4 mins read

Short Content is skyrocketing: What does it mean for digital video?

TL;DR: Short form video is gaining huge traction – YouTube Shorts are attracting 1.5 billion monthly viewers alone whilst TikTok has witnessed a meteoric rise in 2022. Publishers and content creators should grasp the opportunity using a blend of well-crafted short and long-form content, shared across a variety of platforms to maximise attention. The key word: flexibility.

With over half of the world’s population active on social media and the average person spending over four hours a day on smartphone apps, social platforms are the place to be for content creators seeking to reach a large and diverse audience. As individuals and organizations rush online to promote what they do, we are entering an era of increased competition for audience attention.

The currency of attention

In today’s digital environment, attention is a key currency. Multitasking is the norm, with 64% of individuals consuming content on multiple screens and platforms at once. For content to be a success, it must cut through the noise and convey its message before we are distracted by another source of digital stimulation. With this context in mind, it is no surprise that audience appetite for snackable content is skyrocketing. This is especially true for the digitally native Gen Z and Y, whose consumption preference is shifting increasingly to the consumption of hundreds of back-to-back bitesize videos.

As expected, social media platforms have responded in kind. To name a few, TikTok, a platform founded on short-form video, is seeing meteoric growth in 2022. YouTube Shorts are attracting 1.5 billion monthly viewers, and Facebook and Instagram Reels are fast growing in popularity. The short video format has been a key offering for most social media platforms, content creators, and viewers.

Community and connection

Beyond serving our ever-shortening attention spans, short-form content engages our desire for connection. Whole communities can be fostered around the re-creation of a viral trend or dance routine. For brands, this means that their content can reach a far wider audience simply by encouraging their followers to create their own content using the same sounds and visuals. Supported by the development of in-platform social media tools, short-form content further broadens the inclusivity of the creative industry. Using only a smartphone, everyone can create content, and thanks to powerful interest-based algorithms, has the potential to be seen or heard.

Another key characteristic of consumption of short-form content is that it tends to rely less on language and has an increased emphasis on visual messaging, cutting across demographics and geographies. For brands, this offers the opportunity to engage a truly global audience.

Trends and culture

The speed at which information spreads in today’s always-on, digitally connected world, means that brands must be able to create content rapidly in order to keep pace. Simple and quick to produce, short-form content can respond to current trends, memes, and culturally-important events in a way that more process and production-intensive content cannot. Within a rapidly changing world, reactivity is vital for brands to stay relevant. At TheSoul Publishing, the ability to react to trends has been a critical factor in our growth. Our combined TikTok viewership has seen a +275% increase to 3 billion views in the first four months of 2022, as compared to the same period last year (800 million).

Reach vs. revenue

For content creators, the value of short-form content is also found in its ability to quickly test new concepts and IPs (intellectual properties) and build large interest-based audiences. Short-form content is a great place for building brand awareness as well as re-engage existing audiences and subscribers.

Ultimately though, longer-form content has the capability to drive deeper engagement and further strengthen the relationship with fans and subscribers. For content creators, it is also a format where there are currently more obvious and proven monetization avenues.

No single form of content distribution should be used exclusively as they have a mutually beneficial role to play. A blend of well-crafted short and long-form content, shared across a variety of platforms, will enable brands to grab consumer attention, engage them as followers, and convert them into loyal fans.

Of course, the digital landscape is always evolving, and new trends will come and go. At TheSoul Publishing, we believe the key is to keep a flexible approach to industry changes and a desire to test new ideas and formats. This way, you can make the most of what social media has to offer while keeping tabs on your audience’s preferences.

Victor Potrel
VP of Platform Partnerships at TheSoul Publishing

TheSoul Publishing is an award-winning digital studio that produces entertaining, positive, and original content for a global audience. TheSoul reaches more than one billion social followers across Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Pinterest, and Snap. Its global creative team consistently delivers engaging, cross-platform content for all ages in 20 different languages. TheSoul’s channels include 5-Minute Crafts, Bright Side, 123 GO!, Avocado Couple, La La Life, Teen-Z, Baby Zoo, Slick Slime Sam and Polar. TheSoul Publishing has won numerous awards including ‘Digital Studio of the Year’ at the 2021 Digiday Video & TV Awards, ‘Best use of Pinterest’ at the 2021 Drum Awards, and is also a 2022 Webby Honoree for ‘Best Overall Social Presence in Media/Entertainment.