Why and How Does ‘Short Form Video’ Like TikTok Work?

Why and How Does ‘Short Form Video’ Like TikTok Work?
Why and How Does ‘Short Form Video’ Like TikTok Work?

This is a blog post explaining what short form video is, why it’s popular, and also why it can be hard to ‘crack’ for B2B communication. Lots of TikTok tips too.

So, short form video is… what is used to describe video clips of less than 60 seconds posted across social media channels. TikTok is at the forefront of making a success of short form video popularity followed by Meta (which is Facebook and Instagram). All those platforms put the videos in a position on the app to give them priority. Twitter also works with video, but they can appear anywhere within timelines with no set layout style. I also personally don’t like how content presented to me on Twitter can suddenly be risqué just because of something it thinks I want to see, or because someone I’m connected with liked it.

TikTok and Instagram audiences are younger (hey Google, what’s the age group of TikTok? ‘Largely 18 to 34’, and Instagram? ’18 to 24 years’), and short videos fuels their appetite for younger visual craving attention spans.  And on that note…

When did short form video really take off? Okay, lets go back to April 1990 when Jeremy Beadle presented a brand new TV series featuring home video clips; ‘You’ve Been Framed’! In those early days it would get an audience of 15 million viewers (the highest audience X Factor ever achieved was 14 million, that was in 2010 when Matt Cardle won). 

Over 700 episodes of ‘You’ve Been Framed! were created up until when it got axed last year. Short, simple video clips often less than 15 seconds so attention spans were constantly rewarded with the next clip and the next clip, and before you know it the end credits are rolling with the continuity announcer saying ‘Next on ITV…’.

TikTok is like an endless episode of ‘You’ve Been Framed!’

What ITV learned was the very nature of the programme meant the viewing audience would always increase throughout an episode, so the programme was a valuable ratings tool to increase audience share. Often ‘You’ve Been Framed!’ would move around the Saturday schedule so a brand new TV series could follow with the highest audience at the start as possible. Frequently ‘You’ve Been Framed!’ didn’t have adverts in the ad breaks, just trails for other ITV shows.

So why does short form video work? Let’s go back to a time when we lived in caves and hit each other with stone clubs. Our basic animal instincts are to conserve energy and not die. Fast forward to modern day, and although day to day life holds less risks to survival, the brain is still drawn to simple wins, to enjoy something with the least effort. 

So fast forward to TikTok in 2017. TikTok is like an endless episode of ‘You’ve Been Framed!’ mainly featuring your favourite type of video clips (it learns what you like so it keeps you watching- genius), and you don’t need to press fast forward, just one swipe of the finger gets you to the next clip. Welcome to the stealer of time!

YouTube has been a part of my video production process since the UK version of the platform began back in 2006. Read my blog here.

So my business needs to be on TikTok then? Now it gets challenging. Until last week TikTok was the place to be (but over 100 million of us in less than two weeks have flocked to Threads as it’s ‘the new place to be’. We are a fickle bunch). 

Although we’re all waiting to discover the point of Threads, TikTok with it’s ability to learn what we like, is making the biggest success of short form video. But what the audience expects to see there, especially B2B ones, is totally different to what they expect on Facebook and certainly Linkedin. It’s simply not the case of just uploading the same video to both platforms.

In a nutshell the TikTok viewers:

  • Have micro attention spans,
  • Are the most open minded social media consumers,
  • Are under 30,
  • Spot bullshit and desperation in micro seconds,
  • Expect and want to see your heart on your sleeve.


What should you consider when making TikTok content? Keep a consistent style so videos relate to each other- film them in the same place, same person / people, same shot size, similar clothes colours, but not the same clothes, because it will look like you have ‘block filmed’ a few videos at the same time, it will look desperate, lazy and obvious. 

TikTok videos are to feel ‘in the moment’, like you’ve just had an idea, opinion, or mini rant and you picked up the camera and did the film when you had the feeling to, not a schedule.

For a business just starting to use TikTok I would say: 

  • Drop the brand bible look- it’s too salesy for TikTok, 
  • Videos need to be people lead- a human face on camera,
  • Keep videos to around 30 to 40 seconds,
  • Teach, learn, inform about your industry or sector,
  • Have a clear message about the video content in the first two seconds,
  • Always have subtitles (they help with the above two second rule). 
  • Learn the mechanics of TikTok- make a film and put it in drafts and watch it a few times before going live.
  • And most importantly don’t be on TikTok for the sake of saying ‘we are on TikTok’.



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