Marketing

9 Ways to Embrace the Short-Form Video Revolution

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Marketers who are paying attention know the world of social media content development is shifting underneath our feet (yeah, again) thanks to the explosion of short-form, multi-frame videos.

Given the enormous success of TikTok, the reimagining of Instagram, and the readjustment of video distribution on Facebook, social media marketers can’t afford to ignore this new trend that is driving social media.

But before you ask your intern to teach your marketing team a synchronized dance to music they’ve never heard before, you might first want to explore some alternate ways to share your brand message through short-form video. Because it’s one thing for marketers to understand that the way video content is developed and distributed has changed — but it’s a completely different thing to embrace these new trends and be successful in the ways you make content on your channels.

9 short-form video tips that’ll make your brand messages sing

Lucky for you, we’re here to help (no, we’re not going to dance). Our goal is to help you understand the strategies, tools, tactics, and trends that will allow you to more effectively create short-form, multi-frame videos that help allow your brand messages to shine through TikTok and Instagram Reels.

Here are nine tips that will help your brand messages sing (pun intended) on TikTok and Instagram Reels.

Here are nine tips that will help your brand messages sing (pun intended) on TikTok and Instagram Reels. #socialmedia #contentmarketing Click To Tweet

1. Make music a major part of your messages

You don’t absolutely need to include music in your TikToks and Reels, but your videos are probably going to be much better for your brand if you do. In the case of Instagram Reels and TikTok, music is more than simply an entertaining element or a storytelling device — though, to be clear, including some fun music will probably make your short-form videos more watchable.

On TikTok and Instagram Reels, music is part of the trending experience. Users can tap on the screen to find other videos on the platform that use the same songs or music clips. This means that if your brand finds a meaningful and effective way to use a popular music clip, the likelihood of your video being seen significantly increases.

Having said that, please do not take this as a blank check to use just any sort of music clip in your videos. Relevancy and authenticity are important—and if you’re more of an Earth, Wind & Fire kind of brand, don’t try to fake it with Olivia Rodrigo or Willow Smith.

2. Use text on screen to help tell the story

You likely are accustomed to telling stories through video on other social media platforms. In these videos, you probably use voice and musical elements to tell the story, then use the post text to provide supplemental information. But on TikTok and Reels, the job that the post text would perform often is a major part of the video.

Text can serve a few different purposes for your short-form videos. For example:

  • You can use text to tell a story while the video on screen includes dancing or “acting.” Some TikTok trends feature users lip-syncing the words to specific songs, but then use the on-screen text to tell a story from his or her life.
  • Others use text to provide an introduction to the video.
  • In some instances, creators place text on the screen periodically to help provide emphasis or direct your attention. TikTok even has a feature that allows the text you write to be spoken by a female voice that is best described as half robot, half valley girl.

3. Embrace the strategic use of hashtags

Whereas hashtags are a supplemental way to share messages and ideas on most social media platforms, the hashtag plays a much more significant role on TikTok. In fact, the hashtag on TikTok is likely the single most important element on a post to influence content distribution. If you take a look at a video caption in Reels or TikTok, you’ll see that post text is virtually non-existent on any of the most popular videos on the platforms — but literally almost every meaningful post has one or more hashtags included.

One extremely common hashtag on TikTok is #fyp — short for “For You Page.” Anybody who uses this hashtag is trying to take a ride on the algorithm express straight to viral town. Sorry. It’s not quite so easy to go viral on TikTok or Reels, but understanding that you need to use hashtags is a good first step.

For additional hashtag inspiration, visit the “Discover” page on the TikTok app. Content on this page is grouped into some of the current most popular hashtags on the platform. If you have money to spend (like, a lot of it), your brand can even sponsor a hashtag trend on TikTok, allowing more people to see the hashtag and related trending videos — and subsequently your brand.

4. Shoot the videos naturally

As social media continues to evolve, the ways to develop video content continue to change as well. If you work on a team with old-school advertising executives (or if you are one yourself), the assumption might be that you need new cameras, high-quality microphones, lighting solutions, and studios.

While it may sometimes be possible that you would use some of these tools for developing TikTok or Reels short-form video content, that likely won’t usually be the case. The overwhelming majority of the time, your smartphone includes everything you need to make an amazing video. Don’t worry too much about sound, lighting, or even video quality. At the end of the day, it’s your message — and maybe your dancing skills — that will attract audiences.

5. Follow and create content around trends

Remember when your mom used to ask you “if so and so jumped off a bridge, would you do that, too?” Well, don’t tell your mom, but that’s kind of what will make you one of the “cool kids” on TikTok or Instagram Reels.

Yes, if you are one of the select few, you’ll be able to set your own trends, but let’s be real — if you’re this deep into this 101-level article about how to use TikTok, you probably aren’t going to be a trendsetter. Sorry. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be relevant. Look for the trends on the “Discover” page and look for the trending content you are seeing on your “For You” page. Then, explore ways your brand can participate with these trends in a way that promotes your brand voice.

6. Learn from influencers and power creators

Yeah, these are the cool kids you’re trying to be like. But don’t mistake their casual demeanor and amusing antics for unprofessionalism. Successful influencer marketing on TikTok or Instagram Reels is a significant feat and requires an impressive marketing acumen. If you are looking to be inspired by people who are having a ton of success, consider following these individuals:

  • Charli D’Amelio
  • Addison Rae
  • Zach King
  • Bella Poarch
  • Spencer X
  • Loren Gray
  • Dixie D’Amelio
  • Will Smith
  • Michael Le

7. Create specific content for specific platforms

When Instagram Reels first began, Instagram simply wanted content creators to start using its new tool. But a problem quickly presented itself when Instagram found that users were downloading their TikTok videos and then uploading them to Reels. That wouldn’t have been a major problem except for the fact that every downloaded TikTok video includes a TikTok watermark. Instagram didn’t like that.

This led Instagram to announce in February 2021 that its algorithm would de-emphasize videos with TikTok watermarks. However, if you’re simply uploading short-form videos from one platform to the next, you’re missing the mark anyway. Each platform has unique tools. Use them.

8. Use filters and effects

Filters and effects can have a major influence on your ability to reach audiences. But these kinds of filters and effects are not the same as the filters and effects that were first introduced by Snapchat or even Instagram a few years ago.

Today’s filters are key storytelling elements for content creators. A few of the top filters you may want to explore for your short-form videos include:

  • Beauty mode
  • Bling
  • Cartoon eyes
  • Inverted filter
  • Customized color filter
  • Portrait F4
  • Vibe V1
  • Vibe V6
  • Landscape B10
  • Video speed
  • Green screen
  • Voice effects
  • Blending effects
  • Double exposure
  • Transitions

9. Experiment

There is no single answer on how to be relevant on TikTok or on Instagram Reels. With all the tools, filters, sounds, effects, hashtags, and influencers, there are millions of options that all can lead to relevancy on TikTok or Instagram Reels.

However, because there is no single magical formula, you’re going to have to put in work to figure out what is going to be effective for you or your brand. You’re going to fail sometimes — but each new short-form video is a learning experience. Because new tools, features, and trends are introduced all the time, your willingness to continue to experiment is going to be an important part of your success moving forward. And if that doesn’t work, you still should end up with some cool new dance skills.

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About the author

Chad Buleen

Chad Buleen is a well-intentioned husband and father who loves to write about social media, digital marketing, and content strategy. His hobbies include competing in wrestling matches on the living room floor, being nominally effective at helping his kids with their math assignments, and spending time trying to convince people that working with social media is a real job.