3 Short-Form Video Trends Online Marketers Should Watch in 2021

Let’s face it, we love videos.

Videos of cats, babies tasting lemons for the first time, food recipes — you name it, we love it. And when it comes to marketing, this still rings true. Recent data shows that video content is one of the most influential forms of marketing out there.

A 2020 study by Wyzowl reported that people share videos at twice the rate than any other form of content. It also found that 84% of people were convinced to buy a product or service based on the brand’s video.

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More recently, short-form videos have taken over social media platforms.

So, how can you leverage short-form content to grow your business? And what are some trends to look for in 2021? See what HubSpot marketing experts are saying, below.

But there’s no universal number that everyone has agreed on. For instance, a short-form video on Twitter can be up to 2:20 minutes. On TikTok and Triller, it’s 60 seconds. On Instagram Reels, it’s even shorter: 30 seconds.

Brandon Sanders, a digital marketer for HubSpot Academy, highlights that what’s considered short-form can also depend on the platform.

“With the rise of platforms like TikTok, Reels, and Vine, short form video is actually getting shorter and lending itself more to 60-second to two-minute videos,” he said. “I think the perception of short-form content on platforms like YouTube is actually around that 10-minute sweet spot because content on YouTube tends to be more comprehensive and longer.”

So, when you’re thinking of short-form video, Youtube is the exception, whereas TikTok and other growing short-form videos are the rule.

How do short-form videos fit into your content strategy?

Aside from length, one thing that set short-form videos apart is the trend culture. TikTok, for instance, is run by dances, sounds and social challenges. So, to get on the “For You” page on TikTok — which is equal to the “Explore” page on Instagram — brands must often join in on the fun.

Sanders says short-form videos give creators an innovative way to showcase their content.

“The growth of social media is causing the human attention span to become shorter and shorter,” he said. “So, leveraging the power of short-form content will give you a leg up on your competition and help engage your audience.”

As with any new trend or platform, HubSpot Senior Content Strategist Amanda Zantal-Wiener says you should always consider your audience first.

“It all goes back to a very old question: Which channels are your audiences using and for what?” she said. “And therefore, for which channels does it make the most sense for your business to create this short-form content?”

This means that while short-form video is often known for its entertainment value, you can adapt it to align with your brand.

Short-Form Video Trends to Look Out For

1. More User-Generated Content (UGC)

Consumers generally love UGC. In fact, it influences their purchasing decisions more than brand- or influencer-generated content. Without using up too many resources, brands can publish videos that evoke emotion. Another benefit? It’s budget-friendly.

Short-Form Video Example: Chipotle

@chipotle

Out of this world delivery ha @cheekyboyos #chipotle #burrito #space #fyp

♬ original sound Chipotle

This is a great example of how you can leverage user-generated content in your strategy. In this instance, Chipotle collaborated with these content producers to create a fun, viral-worthy video.

One of Chipotle’s target audiences might be young, college students looking for inexpensive meals. This video features two creators who reflect the audience they may want to attract. Brands should keep this in mind when considering UGC and ask, “will my audience relate to this?” If the answer’s “yes,” move forward.

2. More Behind-the-Brand Videos

Consumers seek out authenticity and transparency in brands. With short-form video, you only have a few seconds to connect with your audience.

So, how do you do that? Well, there’s no exact science to it, but consumers tend to feel more connected to brands that show the people behind the brand. In one Sprout Social study, 70% of consumers said they felt more connected to brands whose CEO is active on social media platforms.

So, going into 2021, brands should pull back the curtain and engage with their audiences on a more personal level.

Short-Form Video Example: Sierra Nicole

@sierranicoleofficial

Text letsgrow to 81257 for biz credit tips ☺️ #entrepreneur #businesstiktok

♬ Sean Kingston feat. Chris Brown & Wiz Khalifa- “Beat It” – TBT 24/7 🎵

Trendy? Check. Informative? Check. Prompts action? Check! This video works because it has all the ingredients for an effective short-form video.

It first grabs the viewer’s attention by including a popular song and dance. The content addresses pain points viewers may be facing. Then, the call-to-action (CTA) in the caption rounds out the video by turning viewers into potential leads.

3. More Explainer or Educational Videos

In 2021, brands will likely focus on educational content in their short-form videos. Think how-to’s, DIYs, and explainer videos. A 2020 Wyzowl report found that viewers want to see more of this video style from brands.

Educational videos are great added-value content because they help audiences in their day-to-day lives. Brands that make education a priority in their marketing strategy can improve lead generation and build stronger brand loyalty. Similarly, explainer videos target users who are at the decision-making stage of the buyer’s journey and, if done right, they can turn decision-makers into customers.

It’s a win-win situation: Brands get to address their audience’s pain points and offer solutions, which is (surprise!) them. Not sure what I mean? See the example below.

Short-Form Video Example: Soy Yo Candle

Soy Yo Candle used this formula to create this short-form video. Presumably, one of the biggest struggles of owning candles is making them last. In just a few seconds, the brand presented a problem, offered a solution, and promoted their product. It can be as simple as that.

Another highlight in this video is that it caters to viewers who may be discovering the brand and those who already know it. Because of the value it offers, the brand can reach a broader audience organically.

Takeaways for Video Marketers

Short-form video requires taking a more authentic, human, and creative approach to marketing. Kelsi Yamada, an associate marketing manager who works on HubSpot’s social media campaigns, says it’s a low-commitment and engaging way to connect with your audience.

“You can get a good laugh or learn something new in a minute or less on TikTok or Reels,” said Yamada. “On the flip side, it’s also relatively easy to create, which means there are more people who can share their humor or points of view. Because of this, brands should figure out what their unique point of view is, and how they can stand out in the noise.”

The desire to be on-trend is always tempting. But Yamada stresses that brands should be selective about which trends they partake in.

“Not every viral TikTok sound or meme format will align with your content strategy or brand, so don’t force it,” she said. “Focus on catering to your niche and staying authentic first. Don’t be afraid to make something completely from scratch – trends have to start somewhere!”

With this in mind, it’s all about finding the balance between what’s trending and what’s on-brand for your business.

1. TikTok

With 69% of its users between 13 and 24 years old, TikTok is definitely the platform of the Millennial and Gen Z population.

TikTok video short form video example

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The TikTok homepage features a timeline of videos separated in two tabs. The “Following” tab with videos posted by the user’s followers, and the algorithm-driven “For You” page based on user behavior (what they like, comment on, scroll past etc.)

TikTok Discover tab

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The “Discover” tab on TikTok highlights trending topics and hashtags, a great resource for marketers to generate new content ideas.

B2B marketers have been wary of using the platform, but it could be because success on the platform relies on emotional appeal. Yet, that emotional appeal may be exactly what they need.

According to a LinkedIn study, B2B strategies that appeal to emotions are seven times more effective for revenue generation than “rational messaging.”

So, it may be time to start practicing those dance moves.

2. Reels

Some call it TikTok 2.0, but Instagram Reels is proving to be its own beast.

Instagram Reel short form video

The Reels tab on Instagram is a scrollable video timeline, similar to what users see on their Explore page. From this page, users can click on the music the account used to see what other Reels feature that sound.

With over 1 billion active monthly users, Instagram already had consumers’ attention. When they launched Reels back in August of 2020, it became another marketing tool for brands and a worthy opponent for TikTok.Instagram caters to a broader age demographic than TikTok. And when considering their other marketing features, Reels is another way for brands to expand their reach in 30 seconds or less..

3. Triller

Triller is Tiktok’s musical theater friend (or rival), the one who bursts into song anytime, anywhere without cause or notice.

Triller Discovery Page

Triller’s homepage looks similar to other short-form video platforms. However, They have made music a prominent feature on the app by making top and trending music a main tab.

The platform is popular among musical artists and allows users to edit 60-second videos within the app. This includes music, filters, effects, and transitions. Triller grew in popularity earlier this year when there was some uncertainty surrounding a TikTok ban in the United States.

The app reports having 13 million active monthly users who spend an average of 20 minutes a day on the app. With music playing a key role on the app, marketers should use music as a storytelling element in their videos.

For instance, the song “You Got It” by Vedo, a song about unlocking your potential, has been making its rounds on Triller. A recruiting firm could use that sound to create a short video targeting job seekers. The song would also work great as a backdrop for a business coaching company advertising its services. The limit does not exist.

4. Hippo Video

If you want to take short-form video content beyond social media, there’s Hippo Video. The video marketing platform gives brands a one-stop shop to produce, distribute, and analyze their video content. Users can also embed forms, CTAs, and annotations within the video, making conversions easier.

Hippo Video Homepage

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For example, let’s say a SaaS company is launching a new product and the marketing team is using Hippo Video for the email campaign.

On launch day, they can send a product teaser video to current customers and include a “Schedule a Demo” CTA, leading users to a meeting scheduling page. During the campaign, the team can track key metrics like total plays and average watch rate — taking video analytics to another level.

5. Magisto by Vimeo

Vimeo recently acquired Magisto, a video editing software that makes video marketing easy through artificial intelligence (AI).

The first step is uploading your videos. The software will then analyze the videos and put it together based on the video editing style you’re looking for. They have over 10 editing styles ranging from real estate and fitness to Facebook and YouTube ads.

Magisto Homepage

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Once you select the style you’re looking for and the video is complete, you can distribute it on social media platforms and track the analytics.

This platform is ideal for brands that don’t want to spend too much time or too many resources on video marketing. This app does it so you don’t have to.

There are hundreds of ways to incorporate short-form videos into your marketing strategy. But no matter which trends come and go, it will always come back to your audience. Try a few approaches, and listen to where the data tells you to go next.

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