The 11 Types of Short-Form Video You Can Leverage TODAY

The 11 Types of Short-Form Video You Can Leverage TODAY

Social media marketing in general is a highly effective way to reach out to customers and build a brand community. However, this is an area that has evolved quite a bit over the years. It used to be that simple organic posting from brands was enough to get noticed. Advertising was available as well, but both could coexist easily. Nowadays, there’s a lot more pay-to-play. With that said, we have plenty of advertising options – and one of the newer and most powerful options today is short-form video.

It’s safe to say that short-form video is the future of social media, and the future has already begun. Even Netflix is launching a short-form video platform called Fast Laughs. Fast Laughs will let people get a chuckle when they need it. And with their mobile app, this can be enjoyed just about anywhere. Similarly, YouTube has introduced Shorts, many of which are funny.

The bottom line is clear: Leverage short-form video or be left out of the conversation by entire generations. Young people are especially drawn to short-form video, as evidenced by the young demographic of sites like TikTok. However, this isn’t the only reason to embrace this format. As you will learn there are many other reasons and benefits of leveraging short-form video.

What is Short-Form Video?

what is a _____?

Short-form videos are short in length. No one definition, but if we look at the shortest character count of social networks, Twitter, and think of their maximum video length of 2 minutes and 20 seconds, it gives us a good guideline. On the shortest extreme is TikTok videos, which are between 15 seconds and a minute 3 minutes. Since the video is recorded within the app, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to exceed this.

You sould note that maximum video length on many newer social media platforms (which I will discuss below) are much shorter. In these situations, short-form video is your only option. Users have needed to learn how to present their message quickly. That’s true whether you’re cracking jokes or presenting a more serious message. Humor is very effective, of course, but it isn’t always appropriate in short-form videos depending on topic.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that the majority of all videos (60%) are less than two minutes in length. Part of this is because giphys are a kind of video, and they tend to be only a few seconds. However, a lot of these short videos are that way because, if a picture is worth a thousand words, a few seconds of video is worth ten thousand. Sometimes less is more.

The 5 Biggest Benefits of Short-Form Video Marketing

In this article, I’ll look at the benefits of short-form video in two major chunks. The first five are seriously major benefits, while others are less important. Nonetheless, all of them should be considered when forming your video marketing strategy. Overall, the major theme is that video helps your customers. In fact, 93% of them admitted in a survey that it helps them decide what to buy. Furthermore, customers find video preferable to photos or articles when looking into something new.

1) It’s perfect for declining attention spans

It's perfect for declining attention spans

These days, people prefer short-form video because it’s over quickly. And as a result, 58% of viewers will finish watching videos under a minute. But if the video is over 20 minutes, only 24% of them will do that. It could be that old-fashioned TV and radio commercials had the right idea. Because they are bought by the second, we typically keep those ads short and sweet.  In this sense, we have come full circle from short traditional ads to long infomercial-like tutorials, and back.

But why is this? Well, many of us believe that American consumers suffer from a short attention span. Many fashions and trends come and go rather quickly. In addition, with less leisure time and more overall stress, time comes at a greater premium. If something isn’t rewarding, we tend to abandon it. On the other hand, compelling content keeps us interested much longer.

2) It’s easy to distribute to, and is ideal for, social media

Social media loves short-form video. In fact, the Giphy is common on social media, where it became a consistent source of comedy. In other words, short-form video is a staple here. Even YouTube has a lot of shorter videos. Plus, there are plenty of social media options, depending on your target audience and product lines.

Better yet, consumers love it. In fact, according to Animoto, video in general is what they’d rather get from brands. This is especially true on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, where consumers look for new products and services. When you think about it, this makes a lot of sense. Each of these networks are places where people hang out with their friends and relax. But at the same time, people exchange ideas and their favorite products.

Although the statistics I mention here are more relevant to B2C brands, there is some carryover to B2B brands. In this case, you’d distribute the video through LinkedIn, Twitter, and newsletters. With video, the decisionmakers can rest their eyes from all the reading. In addition, they can watch the video on their phones or tablets while commuting.

3) It’s easier for viewers to remember

It's easier for viewers to remember

As a general rule, the shorter, the more concise, the less fluff, the more impactful. If you’ve ever sat in a meeting and felt like you missed the whole point because of what someone said after the main point, you know what I mean. Besides which, sometimes leaving “food for thought” is a highly effective way of making your point. Super Bowl commercials often feature this technique by being over the top.

4) It’s easier to repurpose

For one thing, you can leverage longer videos and then splice and dice it. You can also create short-form video from images, audio, and text. Often, this is done when you want the same “look” or point throughout your marketing campaign. You can also easily use the same short-form video and post it to multiple social media channels with little or no change to the video. Typically, the biggest change would be making it shorter or longer to comply with formatting.

It's what's popular today

Do you want the best engagement in social media? It’s all about short-form video! So much so, in fact, that the TikTok revolution in short-form video is forcing other networks to debut short video aspects of their overall platforms. Finally, social media algorithms are clearly surfacing more of this content as it is engaging. They’ve always favored video and other content with high engagement rates, and it shows here.

11 Types of Short-Form Video to Include in Your Video Marketing Strategy

There are so many types of short-form videos that you can do that you should never run out of ideas. In addition, you should be able to find something which will fit just about any campaign type. Even traditionally long form video ideas are adaptable to shorter versions. Here are some starters.

1) Product Demos Focusing on the Features and Benefits of Your Company’s Products and Services

Product Demos Focusing on the Features and Benefits of Your Company's Products and Services

Most of us are used to these in longer formats. However, not all demos need to be complicated. In fact, many products are easy to use and enjoy. Not only that, but we don’t really need to see all the little bits of the process. For this video type, it’s mostly important to sell people on the possibilities.

2) Product Tutorials, How Tos, and Educational Videos of Your Company’s Products and Services

This one is similar to the above. However, there might be more creativity, or focusing on the “how” more than the why. At the same time, though, you still want to get right to the point. For instance, in a cooking tutorial, there’s no reason to display the time something sits in an oven.  Instead, focus on what’s essential to keep the length down and remain persuasive. According to some statistics, 84% of consumers have decided to buy something because of branded video.

3) FAQs – Responding to Customer Questions

FAQs – Responding to Customer Questions

These are a great way to dialogue with your fans and other members of the brand community. Collect questions via Twitter, Facebook, or an online contact form. Then, make a video that responds to the more common questions. To keep these in a short-form video format, consider doing one question at a time. As a bonus, this lets consumers watch only those vids that they feel are relevant.

4) Behind the Scenes Videos

For something that’s both educational and fun, try a behind the scenes look at your company. They have the added benefit of building rapport with people that are interested in your products and services. In other words, it helps your corporate entity lose its impersonal feel.

5) Teasers for Upcoming Events, New Products or Long-Form Video

Teasers for Upcoming Events, New Products or Long-Form Video

Not everything can be properly said using short-form video. To that end, consider using this format in a manner that’s similar to a movie preview: giving people a look at what you have to say in the main feature. This way, they can decide if they’d like to watch it or not. Same goes with event or product announcements. Consider pairing these with landing pages.

6) Live-Streaming Events

Surprisingly, livestreamed events can be made into short-form video. Probably the easiest way to do this is livestreamed announcements. Maybe your company is releasing the greatest development in the history of your industry. Or at least, it’s a major breakthrough. Use short livestreams to get people excited.

7) Highlights of Past Events

Think “office picnic recap” here. Especially if your company does events, it’s often advantageous to show a few of the best moments from the latest get-together. Or virtual event, for that matter. These short-form video examples get people excited about future events, or they help consumers gain a connection to your community. Consider a series showing different moments in each one.

8) Messages Directly from Executives

If you want a great way for executives to build a connection with consumers or other decisionmakers, check this one out. One example here might be to introduce the brand and its values. Another one might involve the executives talking about why they love being part of the company. Either way, it’s effective: If a CEO has a social media presence, then 70% of consumers will feel more connected to that particular brand.

9) Reviews & Customer Testimonials

Here’s one place where social proof can come into play. A lot of people like to be sure that something is good before they buy it. And when they hear from other end users, it’s a powerful tool. Of course, in some situations this same short-form video can help someone select between two products made by the same company. When that happens, it’s usually because that person is trying to meet more specific needs.

Further Reading: The Power of Customer Reviews in Marketing Videos

10) User-Generated Content (UGC)

It doesn’t matter whether this was on purpose or part of social distancing, but a large proportion of video content these days has been user generated. In fact, Vidyard found that this share was a whopping 60% last year. With people home all day, short form video became an important window on the world. Not only that, but it’s a great sales tool since UGC doesn’t go through the brand’s “filter,” but is authentic instead.

Finally, short-form video can be used to leverage trends. This is what TikTok is all about! Generally speaking, TikTok has a reputation for young, hip users. On the other hand, before TikTok was all the rage, we had other platforms fulfilling this function. Remember, trends are always an important part of marketing and should be leveraged as appropriate.

The Best Platforms for Short-Form Video Distribution

Now that you understand the reasons behind using short-form video, and the types to consider, let’s think about distribution. As we all know, posting everything to your website isn’t always beneficial: it takes up a lot of space on your servers! Plus, going this route is less effective for reaching your customers. It’s usually better to meet them where they are. With that in mind, here are some better options.


This is the platform that really put shorts on the map. With TikTok recently expanding its maximum time length from 60 seconds to 3 minutes, there’s plenty of room for expression. Videos should be filmed vertically, with dimensions of 1080×1920.

Further Reading: How to Make Your First TikTok Video: For Newbies Only!

Instagram Reels

The TikTok-inspired Reels used to have a maximum of 15 seconds which was later expanded to 30 seconds. If it’ll be longer, similar to a video over 60 seconds in your feed, you must switch to IGTV. Specifications for video is the same as for photos: square, landscape, or vertical and in the same proportions.

Instagram Stories

These have a maximum length of 15 seconds, so you’ll have to keep it very short or stitch together a series of videos.

Further Reading: 8 Ways How to Use Instagram Stories for Online Store Promotion

YouTube Shorts

One of the newest members of this list are YouTube Shorts. While they are still in beta testing, YouTube has already expanded their length from 15 to 60 seconds. Shorts also appear on your YouTube channel as archived videos, an added bonus to increase channel engagement.

Further Reading: 15 Viral YouTube Shorts Ideas

Pinterest Idea Pins

Another newer member on this list are the recently announced Pinterest Idea Pins. These can easily be recorded on the mobile app with video recording and editing for up to 20 pages of content. It is also easy to add a voice over recording and copyright-free background music is available to use as well. The maximum length of a Pinterest Idea pin is 60 seconds, making it easy to repurpose those TikTok Reels. These Idea Pins are also automatically archived to your Pinterest profile page to encourage continued engagement.

Facebook Stories

Besides sharing the link to a video on your profile, it’s possible to add one directly to Facebook Stories. Facebook gives the instructions for this, but curiously, they don’t publish limits or specifications. Many will use this as a secondary distribution channel for Instagram Stories.

LinkedIn Stories 

Similar to all of the other Stories formats, LinkedIn stories are content that stays up for only 24 hours. You also must add Stories from the mobile app. The video is taken from your cell phone camera and is a maximum of 20 seconds.

Instagram / Twitter / Facebook / LinkedIn / Pinterest Posts

It should also bear reminding that you can post short-form video as a post on the “normal” social media channels. All of these platforms allow you to upload a short-form video as an eternal post, with only Instagram limiting you to one minute (unless you want to post on IGTV) and Twitter literally limiting it to the defined short-form video maximum of 2 minutes and 20 seconds.

The Final Word on Short-Form Video

With all the options for short-term video these days, there’s little reason not to use it. In fact, increasingly this type of marketing material is becoming critical if you want to reach younger consumers. Even B2B brands are finding out just how valuable it is. Leverage short-form video and figure out how to repurpose it for maximum benefit or get left behind.

Hero photo by Yan Berthemy on Unsplash

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Neal Schaffer
Neal Schaffer

Neal Schaffer is a leading authority on helping businesses through their digital transformation of sales and marketing through consulting, training, and helping enterprises large and small develop and execute on social media marketing strategy, influencer marketing, and social selling initiatives. President of the social media agency PDCA Social, Neal also teaches digital media to executives at Rutgers University, the Irish Management Institute (Ireland), and the University of Jyvaskyla (Finland). Fluent in Japanese and Mandarin Chinese, Neal is a popular keynote speaker and has been invited to speak about digital media on four continents in a dozen countries. He is also the author of 3 books on social media, including Maximize Your Social (Wiley), and in late 2019 will publish his 4th book, The Business of Influence (HarperCollins), on educating the market on the why and how every business should leverage the potential of influencer marketing. Neal resides in Irvine, California but also frequently travels to Japan.

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