Anyone doubting that shorter is better, at least in terms of how social media is evolving the past couple of years, need only look at statistics measuring the booming popularity with the briefest bits of online video on the site known for endless hours of far longer material.
Short-form king TikTok, of course, saw its popularity skyrocket during the pandemic, topping 1 billion users as older generations got into creating videos alongside their younger family members.
TikTok’s success spawned copy-cat offerings from OG social-media platforms Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Facebook is even overhauling its long-time Newsfeed to create a video-first experience that eschews the stories that were part of the user interface for years.
The move to create a specialized place for shorter videos has certainly paid off for Alphabet-owned YouTube, which saw views of videos of less than 1 minute jump 135 percent between the second quarter of 2021 and Q2 of 2022, according to stats compiled by Tubular Labs.
“Short-form video is all about reach,” according to Tubular’s latest review of social-video trends. “Platforms have prioritized this content in algorithms to reach new followers and show up on discovery pages. Shared music tracks and trends also allow users to find new creators in alignment with their preferences.”
YouTube, of course, has long hosted millions of hours of longer-form video devoted to seemingly every imaginable topic, in some cases, live-streamed or recorded programming that lasts for hours.
But right now, the hot trend is short. Indeed, views of videos less than 1 minute have grown rapidly in just two years, tracking TikTok’s booming popularity, according to Tubular figures. Videos of less than 1 minute comprised only 11% of YouTube traffic this quarter two years ago; as of July 1, those brief videos comprise 57% of YouTube views.
And the short videos are coming overwhelmingly, 95%,from creators and other individuals rather than brands or media companies, according to Tubular.
For creators who jumped on the short bandwagon, it’s been a good ride. Tubular pointed to LeoNata Family as one example of creators producing short videos for both TikTok and YouTube. The account already claims more than 9 million subscribers and has attracted 6.6 billion YouTube views this year already.
Tubular tracks video viewership statistics and patterns on most of the major social-video platforms, including TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube
The shift to short at YouTube and on other sites represents something of the Revenge of the Viners, those early creators who saw their popularity blossom on Vine, which limited videos to no more than 6 seconds in length.
Twitter bought Vine in 2012, even before it had officially launched. But the service’s lifespan was nearly as brief as its content. Twitter shuttered Vine four years buying it. Twitter executives couldn’t figure out ways to better monetize the traffic the platform was generating. Indeed, monetization continues to be a challenge with shorter videos, whose viewers are less likely to stick around for an ad that might run longer than the original clip.
TikTok and its China-focused corporate twin, Douyin, started with limits on video length nearly as brief as Vine’s, just 15 seconds, but have been increasing those limits to 1 minute for many creators.