TikTok is known for its short-form content; until 2022, creators couldn’t make videos any longer than 3 minutes. These days, the limit has been extended to 10 minutes, which gives users a lot more flexibility in the types of videos they make. The question is, are longer videos on TikTok really a boon for creators, or will they get ignored by viewers?
Even though the platform’s success came from the popularity of seven- to fifteen-second videos, demand has been increasing for slightly longer content. This shouldn’t come as a surprise; after all, every social media platform has had to adjust and innovate over the years. What worked in 2020 won’t necessarily succeed in 2023, which means it’s time to figure out what current users want. And in this case, apparently that’s long-form content on TikTok.
Why creators are making longer videos
A few years ago, TikTok was dominated by videos that were around 15 seconds long. These were the ones that were most likely to go viral, and the most likely to start pop-culture trends. However, they were never that great at converting views to followers. Even if a viral video got millions of views, the creator couldn’t depend on getting more than just a few thousand new followers from it. A few thousand followers is nothing to sneeze at, but it really should have been more considering how many views the video got.
This is one factor that led creators away from short-form content – it just doesn’t have a great payoff. Another factor that encouraged long-form content is a shift towards storytelling-type videos, where creators engage with their followers and develop deeper connections with them. This type of content not only entertains current followers, but also encourages new viewers to join in on the fun.
Seeing a 10-minute video on TikTok may seem out of place, but creators have actually been doing these longer videos for years now – they just had to split them up into multiple parts. How many times have you heard a quick message at the end of a video to “stay tuned for part 2”? The multiple-part video series of 2020 TikTok are now the long-form videos of 2023 TikTok. People are still just as interested in them as ever, and now they don’t have to search for the next part of the series in order to finish the story.
Short videos are still king on TikTok
There may be plenty of benefits to long-form videos on TikTok, but the truth is that short videos still reign supreme. In fact, it’s thought that the ideal length for a TikTok video is between 21 and 34 seconds. Why so short? Because of a few different factors.
- The attention span of the average TikTok viewer just isn’t that long, and it definitely doesn’t extend to 10 minutes. In most cases, users hop onto TikTok to be entertained; they aren’t necessarily looking for anything specific. They scroll through their For You pages, and see what grabs their attention. If they see a short video that looks interesting, it doesn’t take much of a commitment to watch the whole thing. If the video is multiple minutes long, though, they may immediately scroll past it because they simply can’t be bothered.
- TikTok’s algorithm considers several different things when deciding which videos to promote, and one of those things is how much of the video consistently gets watched. If 80% of viewers scroll past within the first 5 seconds of a video, TikTok will assume that nobody wants to watch it, and won’t promote it much. If 80% of viewers finish a video, though, TikTok will reward that strong performance with steady recommendations to new viewers.
- Shorter videos are easier to make compared to longer ones. In most cases, that is; if a complex topic has to be crammed into a video that’s less than a minute, that can be tricky. If the creator wants to make a video that doesn’t take much development, though, short videos are perfect. There’s no need to write a script, use various devices to sustain the audience’s interest, or structure the video with a clear beginning, middle, and end. This takes a lot of work out of the process, which is a big advantage for creators who post several times per day or week.
How to keep viewers’ attention during any video
Whether your videos are long or short, it’s usually best to have the same basic structure. This is how you keep viewers interested the whole way through, rather than leaving them feeling lost at the 30-second mark.
- Start with a hook
The first three seconds of each video may be the most important, because these are the few seconds that can convince a viewer to keep going. The goal is to grab their attention and tease their curiosity, which motivates them to continue watching until the very end. However, you shouldn’t give away too much in the hook – and you shouldn’t misrepresent the content of the video just to draw people in. A good hook is like a perfectly edited movie trailer. It reveals just enough of what’s to come, without giving everything away.
- Continue with the “conflict”
Whether you’re solving a problem, answering a question, or telling a story with a great punchline, your videos should have some form of “conflict”. Not necessarily in the conventional sense, but in the sense of dramatic tension that keeps the story going.
- End with a conclusion or call to action
The generic “like and follow” CTA is so last year – it’s best not to end your videos with that. Instead, point out other videos they could watch, tell them about videos you have in the works, or say something else that would make viewers want to see more videos from you.
Is it time for you to change the length of your videos?
Unless you’ve fine-tuned the length of your TikTok videos, maybe you should consider experimenting to see how your followers respond. With a little trial and error, you could find that your videos bring in even more followers than before.