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  • Chris Gib

Unleash the power of social media scrolling with short-form video: Part 1

Unless you’ve been happily living under a rock since YouTube hit the internet, you’ll already know that video has grown to become the most powerful and popular engagement tool for businesses.

Many companies have gone all-in with the concept, but many others are reticent, unable or unmotivated to realise the potential that video may have for their organisation. While compelling research and statistics can be found all over the internet to back-up the claim that video is essential to marketing success, we wanted to (over)share some of the learnings from our own experiments with short-form video on social media. Enjoy.

Emotion drives engagement. Make people ‘feel’.

If there’s one thing humans love to do on social media, it’s making their opinions and thoughts known to the world. As a result, content that is unique, divisive, edgy or even inaccurate (but not offensive or inconsiderate) can be very engaging because these types of posts are sure to solicit emotional responses. The engagement feeds the social media algorithms and increases impressions. Meaning that your message or brand will reach even more people. While your knee-jerk reaction to the suggestion of posting provocative content might be a resounding ‘no thanks’, our experiments showed that we were consistently reaching c500,000 Instagram accounts organically by posting these sort of micro-video memes 4-5 times a week, without any negative brand impact. Get in touch if you want to know more.

Laughs get shared. Are you funny enough?

Comedy, memes and amusing viral videos are the second most popular video content type in the world, so it’s only natural that they’d be the most shared short-form videos on social media. We suspect that every individual reading this article has, at some point, shared a funny short video with their friends or family – whether that’s via email, social media or instant message. Just don’t forget that comedy is subjective so a high level of consideration should be applied if you’re a business looking to deploy funny SFVs to promote your brand. We’re still big fans of how Dollar Shave Club and Old Spice elevated their brands using unique creative comedy, and there are plenty of ways to generate laugh-inducing short videos on a budget too. Also, don’t forget the power of funny animals! We love making videos and we'd love to help you develop your ideas.

Video views are vanity. Know what makes a difference.

Our dopamine levels peaked the first time one of our edgy little video-memes hit over 4 million views and 160,000 likes! Apparently, if you can find an internationally appropriate and currently relevant topic that divides opinion pretty much down the middle, you might luck-out too! But don’t get too excited – views and likes are “vanity metrics” that aren’t necessarily measures of success. What matters more from a social media perspective are the number of times a video is shared, and the level of engagement with comments on the post. Lower numbers of views with high levels of engagement is generally better in the long term versus high numbers of views that bring little meaningful engagement. Pro Tip: If you regularly post engaging short videos that are consistently being watched and shared try to make sure your branding is relatively prominent so your audience is very aware of who is delivering all this juicy enjoyable content.

The global shrinking attention span pandemic.

Nothing highlights the ever-decreasing attention span of humans more than seeing micro-teasers appear at the beginning of movie trailers. Hollywood now needs to put previews at the start of their previews to convince viewers that they should invest 3 more minutes of their valuable time on watching a trailer. Humans of today have so many distractions and choices that video marketers only have around 5 seconds to solicit their attention. This also is why YouTube ads are only skippable after you’ve watched them for 5 seconds or more. That is a very small window of opportunity to stand out from the crowd and hook your audience into watching the rest of your video content. Make it count. We might be able to help so get in touch.

Harness the # to maximise your reach.

The hashtag concept works across all social media platforms to helps algorithms match audiences with the kind of content they want to see and consume. Be aware that the algorithms of each social platform differ slightly in terms of how they use the hashtags, and that there exists many different ways to deploy hashtags in your posts. There are also some convenient tools online that can help you decide which trending and appropriate hashtags to use alongside your short form videos. Just make sure that your #hashtag #posting #strategy isn’t #intrusive or #jarring for your #audience.

Sharing is caring but it ought to be short.

Circling back to the issue of short attention spans, it seems that most of the humans active on social media are acutely aware of the fact, and generally tend to select shorter videos to share with their friends and family. As with hashtags, each different social media platform lends itself to varying lengths of short video, so marketers wishing to benefit from the power of social media sharing should tailor the length of their videos to match their chosen social platform(s).

For small businesses and start-ups with limited resource and budget, short-form video is an easy win that can really help elevate brand awareness. Why not check out part 2 of this article where we share more life lessons (and fails) around how brands can make short-form video work for them. For those of you that are already allocating time and effort into video marketing, we hope our experiences around deploying effective short-form videos can be of some assistance.

The marketing sphere is HUGE and we’re the first to admit that there’s always more to be learned - so we’d really appreciate your thoughts on anything we got wrong or might have missed. Perhaps leave a comment so that everyone can benefit from a wider range of valid opinions and experiences. Don't forget to explore part 2 of this article for more thoughts on the wonderful world of short form video.

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