Why are short-form videos so effective on social?

short-form video

As video became the leading form of content on social media, you may have noticed that the videos popping up in your feeds got shorter and shorter. This isn’t by design of the social networks (although platforms like Instagram and Snapchat do restrict video length) – rather, it’s the result of short-form video having consistently proved to be better performing than long clips on social.

In the strictest and most traditional sense, short-form refers to any video under 10 minutes, while any video longer than 10 minutes is considered long-form. However, the habits and desires of viewers are for shorter and shorter content, especially on social networks. Even a five-minute video is too long for social purposes these days.

As the data has piled up on social videos, publishers learned that short-form videos, specifically those under 1 minute, were the most effective component of their social strategies. Long-form video still has a place, though, but that’s on a publisher’s own site, where users might turn for in-depth content.

So what exactly is it that makes short-form video so perfect for social media? Let’s take a look:

Short videos for short attention spans

Social media is all about immediate gratification. Users are looking to consume content quickly, to keep up to date on breaking news and the latest trending topics. They simply don’t have the time or patience to sit through a lengthy video. The average length of a view on Facebook is only 18 seconds – talk about no attention span!

Also keep in mind that users are browsing social – and watching video – on their mobile devices more than ever. There are countless distractions for mobile users, both in the world around them and in their feeds. Short-form videos allow them to quickly consume a point or get clued-in to a story while on the go.

Videos drive engagement, and short-form does best

It’s well-documented that video is the most shared, commented upon, and “liked” form of content on social. The ability video has to prompt engagement is what makes it so crucial to social strategies, as those engagement acts push content higher in feeds and bring it to new eyes.

While video broadly stands above other content in driving engagement, short-form video stacks up even better. Videos that hover between 30 seconds and one minute are the most shared – and with Facebook’s changing Newsfeed algorithm, shares are more important than ever.

Check out this simple, short video from L’Express, that racked up more engagement than any other piece of content they’ve ever shared:

Short-form is highly flexible

This may seem counter-intuitive, but short-form offers a lot of flexibility in content and style. You can quickly cover a news item, rundown a list, give a look behind the scenes at an event or business, offer a quick gag, or just about anything else you can think of.

Longer video demands more content and more formalized structure, while short-form can (and should) focus on a single subject. It gives publishers the opportunity to experiment with different styles and concepts, offering their audiences variety while still delivering the information and entertainment they want.

Compare this piece from Women’s Health running down the habits of happy couples with the video above – extremely different style and content, but both wildly successful short-form videos:

Short-form video isn’t just the future of social video content, it’s the present. Users are devouring more video than ever before, and their social habits make short-form the most appetizing. It’s time to put your focus on crafting bite-sized clips for your audience – it’s what they want.

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