The Rise of TikTok: Why Short-Form Content Should Be Part of Your Marketing Strategy

by | May 4, 2022 | Marketing Strategy, Social Media Marketing

child with phone in his hands is lying at home on bed. Social Media tiktok is loaded on screen.

In terms of content marketing, long-form has been the status quo for decades. According to Core DNA, long-form content is any content between a short study and a novelette. There is undoubtedly a time and a place for this content. However, with shortened attention spans, the rise of the share button, and algorithms that require daily input to push out, it is more important than ever to master the short-form content game. In this blog, we will cover what short-form content is, why TikTok is the king of short-form content, and how to get started with a TikTok marketing strategy.

What is Short-Form Content?

Short-form content is typically any written copy of fewer than 1,000 words or videos of up to 3 minutes. Think blogs, Facebook posts, TikToks, and Instagram reels. These take less than 3 minutes to consume, are typically easily digestible, and are highly shareable.

These are the reasons short-form is taking an unprecedented lead.

Short-form content is easy to share, make, and engage with.

People expect their favorite accounts to turn out content daily. If the content is 10,000 words on the advertising industry’s effect on western societal views of femininity (if you actually are interested in this – check out Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein), then it is unrealistic for creators to put out content daily. On the other hand, if the content is an 11-second video to a trending song, it is a bit more manageable.

Short-form content is also easy to engage with. The likelihood of me clicking away from a post to an article to spend 15 minutes reading it is low. The likelihood of me reading a 100-word Facebook post with the highlights from that article is far higher.

Lastly, short-form is easy to share. Sending a study on “the effects of climate change in mixed-species breeding” in the family group chat is likely to get a thumbs up from Grandpa at best. Sending a TikTok of a grizzly-polar bear mix will probably cause some commotion.

Short-form content is bite-sized pieces of information that start a conversation.

Why TikTok is Different

Sample social media app interface on mobile phone showing shared

The king of short-form content creation and sharing is undoubtedly TikTok. According to Hubspot, Tiktok was the most downloaded app of 2021, it is the number one app for driving consumer spending, and it is by far the most engaging social media app.

Why is TikTok so popular?

Several reasons. But here are our top three:

1. The algorithm makes it easier to go viral if you follow simple hacks
2. The in-app video studio made making content quick, easy, and effective for Tik-Tokers of all skill levels
3. There is a high level of engagement. The advanced algorithm assures that everyone’s feed is highly tailored to their niche interests and preferences.

TikTok has democratized viral content. Anyone can go viral if they post enough content with enough consistency. This is appealing to creators that have come from other platforms where viral content comes from ad dollars spent, production quality, and partnerships with influencers.

TikTok revolutionized the production of content. The platform has abandoned the high production quality reels of Instagram for more casual content that anyone can make in two minutes. Additionally, the in-app video editing studio is far more robust than any other platform. Users can stitch together photos and videos, add voiceovers, edit the playback speed, and even use a green screen effect.

The exclusive use of short video content was no mistake. People’s attention spans are shorter than ever: we have shorter books, movies, and ads to account for that. Naturally, we are navigating towards shorter social content. Dr. Julie Albright explains the psychology of TikTok.

The short videos give users small dopamine hits, giving the platform an immersive experience.

Lastly, users tout the power of the all-knowing algorithm. TikTok’s highly advanced AI recommendation system determines which videos will appear on users For You Page. Users will joke that the algorithm will know things about them before they do because of how highly tailored content will be to users’ preferences, interests, and experiences.

Users with similar preferences will likely be exposed to the same content. For example, users will say that they are on “cooking TikTok”, “Batman TikTok”, or “Colorado TikTok” to explain what types of videos are coming up most frequently in their feed.

Additionally, users will reference that a video made it to the “right side” or “wrong side” of TikTok, depending on the tone of the interactions. For example, suppose the comments on a video are primarily negative. In that case, the algorithm likely pushed the video out to users with incompatible preferences for the video content. This will result in the infamous “wrong side of TikTok” comments.

Marketing Your Business Using TikTok

Utilizing TikTok to market your business will be unlike any other social media marketing you’ve done in the past. When you make promotional content for Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, you make ads. When you make promotional content for TikTok, you are making a TikTok. Users will scroll at the first sign of promotional content, so any videos need to flow seamlessly into a user’s For You Page.

Because of this, businesses are reframing how it looks to interact with customers on TikTok. Content creators are moving from scripted responses to funny, out-of-pocket replies and from perfectly posed photos to videos filmed in one take on their iPhones. This new content and interaction are fast, funny, and radically casual.

Making promotional content that works within this unique environment can be tricky. TikTok is a space for… whatever the opposite of ads is. So, brands have found ways to promote themselves differently.

They post content with workplace humor, share the cool parts of their processes, do skits to popular songs, teach users new tools and information, and anything else.

The NFL has a popular TikTok account. However, you will rarely ever find promotions for games or highlights on this account. Their most recent viral video was a repost of a high school student’s Snapchat of an NFL player visiting their school and racing their principal.

@nfl @Cheetah Bo Hill a legend for this 😂 #tyreekhill #dolphins (via @blake.bennett31 ♬ original sound – NFL

There is no one way to do TikTok right. However, there are about a million ways to do it wrong.

Here are a few general rules for making a successful TikTok for your brand:

  • Keep it short – the highest performing videos are between 21 and 34 seconds long
  • Make it accessible – adding captions increases impressions by 55.7%
  • Do something edgy – videos with a distinct point of view do better than ones without
  • Team up – partnering with creators boosts view-through rates by 193%
  • Hop on the train – Use trending sounds and hashtags
  • Casual is better – overproduced videos smell like ads from a mile away
  • Consistency is key – when building a following, it is recommended to post once per day
  • Engage – your comments on other posts will bring users to your page
  • Find your niche – whether it’s teaching a skill, doing dances to trending songs, or sharing videos of your office dog

Just remember, it’s better to get started and learn along the way than be behind the curve and fall behind the competition.  

And if you aren’t tech-savvy, find yourself a Gen Z intern to run your TikTok account.

@oldtownmedia Someone has to provide content for our fans 😎 #adagency #adagencylife #fortcollins #contentcreator #northerncolorado ♬ vibe for this year – joseph fagundes

So, if you made it to the end of this blog post, you can probably understand why people are moving towards short-form content and why a TikTok marketing strategy is becoming more necessary.

Wouldn’t it have been nice if this was a 49-second video with Harry Styles’ new single in the background?

If you decide to start ditching your blogs, guides, and brochures for reels, TikToks, and Facebook posts; be sure to remember why consumers are making that switch. They want fast, interesting, easily-consumable, and highly shareable pieces of information. Remembering why users prefer short-form content is key to making sure that your content best caters to them. 

If you are interested in learning more, make sure to subscribe to our newsletter! And if you are looking for a marketing team to help you reach your strategic goals, feel free to reach out, we’d love to chat.

Want to learn more?

See what else OTM has to say, sign up for our email list.

girl writing funnel on whiteboard

How to Create Your Full-Funnel Marketing Strategy

Whether you’re an owner/operator for your small business or a manager of a multi-location franchise, every business wants to convert its audience to customers. The best way to do that is by creating a full-funnel marketing strategy. When you leverage the entire sales and marketing funnel, from awareness through to nurture, you're not just marketing to your audience, you are guiding them through their entire customer journey. Below are the areas of the marketing funnel that you need in order to create your full-funnel marketing strategy. Step 1: Generate Awareness You want your customers to know about you and your services before they ever need you. By creating awareness, you are giving yourself a competitive advantage. You don’t necessarily think about the mechanics you know until you need one - but you have two or three in mind when you do because you’ve passed them on the road, seen an ad, or had a friend see one! You can create brand awareness through: Digital advertisements Radio advertisement Social media advertisement Public relations and community involvement These efforts will help you build the top of your full-funnel marketing strategy. Step 2: Show Up for Consideration & Conversion At this stage of the process, a potential customer is aware of their own need or want and is doing research on what will best suit their needs. Based on the need, they can be doing this research in a number of ways including: Talking to friends and family Running general google searches Viewing similar products or services Checking reviews online Having the proper SEO and reputation management procedures in place will help your business rank high for these searches. Ways to promote your business in the consideration stage include: Running Google advertisements Targeting keywords in your online content through blogs and optimization Regularly checking and responding to your online reviews Abandoned cart emails with promotional offers Take our work with our client Karrikins Group for example. To build a content strategy that would span the entire sales funnel, we launched a new website focusing on SEO and future content creation, along with a multimedia content distribution model incorporating email marketing, blogging, on and off-page optimization, and social media marketing. You can learn more about that project here. Once the potential customer has done their due diligence and selected your product, they have now converted into a customer in the marketing funnel. Congrats! Step 3: Maintain Customer Loyalty & Advocacy Now that you have the customer, you need to continue to work to keep them and turn them into a loyal customer and peer advocate. Not only will this continue to nurture your current customer relationship, but it will continue to help build your brand through word-of-mouth recommendations to friends and family. Actively engaging with current customers is more than a monthly newsletter, though that is a great place to start. Other ideas for creating lasting customer relationships that help feed your full-funnel marketing strategy include: Targeted digital advertisements to current users or lookalike audiences Welcome campaigns for new users Creating a loyalty program to reward repeat business Email campaigns based on content-type Reminders of upcoming product or service needs based on the product lifecycle It’s important at this stage to nurture your customers to ensure they are getting more from you than just a product or service. They are receiving additional benefits that keep them coming back. Creating a full-funnel marketing strategy is more than knowing you have a product or service your audience needs. It’s about knowing what they are thinking and feeling before or as they are doing it. Put yourself in their shoes and think through what it looks like to get from start to finish. By allowing yourself to understand their sales journey, you will be able to see how you can show up before they know they need you. Looking to build your full-funnel marketing strategy but not sure where to start? We’re here to help! Check out our strategy-first approach to marketing and get in touch with us.
Val in a taco costume

Core Values Make the Difference in Our Culture at OTM

At OTM, the idea that we are committed to our core values is practically an understatement. Our core values are deeply embedded in everything that we do - from the way that our team members interact with one other to how we approach the solutions we provide to our clients. As a leadership team, we truly strive to incorporate these principles into every aspect of what it means to work at OTM, and they make all the difference in how our company operates culturally.What are our core values? Curiosity: We ask questions to understand, learn and apply. Care: We genuinely give a shit, about our work and our teammates. Integrity: We do the right thing, even when no one is looking. Earn It: We work for it, we own it and then we celebrate it. Perseverance: We don't give up because if it were easy, anyone would do it.How did we create our core values? This list is actually our second attempt at crafting a set of core values to guide our company. As a 15-year-old agency, we haven't always known exactly who we were as a team and what kind of company we wanted to be.  Our first set of core values were created around 7 years ago, and while they were nice to have - they never felt quite like the company we wanted to be and that was demonstrated by how little they served to guide us in the day-to-day. We didn't consult them when we hired, we didn't use them to determine what to celebrate, and we certainly didn't terminate employees because of them.  As the founder of OTM, and someone who has worked with a large number of startups, I believe a business requires a certain level of organizational maturity before its leadership can truly express who they are through an accurate set of core values.  If you are a business owner or executive and your current set of core values do not feel right, give it some time and then try to define them again.  We actually defined our current core values through our work with the StratOp strategic operational planning process, facilitated by a client and friend of ours, the amazing Stacey Pearson with Spinnaker Strategy. We are in love with our core values as a company, and they represent each of our team members in such a foundational way that it has resulted in a culture that we also love. Our core values aren't just a bunch of punchy statements on a wall: they are the guideposts for how we hire, how we work together, and how we determine what clients to work with. How we use our core values in our hiring process We use all five core values in the interview questions that we ask our prospective teammates to see if they truly exhibit the OTM way. We do not straight out ask "Are you curious." Instead, we'll ask questions like "What's the last thing you really geeked out on?" or "What's the last book you read?" We'll ask different questions in different ways to really get a feel if the person is going to enjoy the culture at OTM. We do this for every role in addition to asking technical questions so we can weed out those who aren't going to be a cultural fit for us.How we use them in our everyday work life Celebrating with our core values Before COVID required what is now a hybrid-remote workplace, we were all working together in the OTM office in Fort Collins every day. We have a set of 4x6 cards placed on our core value wall that correspond with each core value, and our team is encouraged to hand these cards out to their team members who are going above and beyond in demonstrating these core values. So, for example, if someone went above and beyond to figure out a new tool or process, someone who that process benefits might write a personal thank you on a Curiosity or Earn It core value card and give it to that person.  At the end of the month we would tally up who received the most core value cards and they would get a gift card. Cut to COVID We wanted to keep our culture strong through the high stress and uncertainty of working from home indefinitely, so we did a little research and found a program called HeyTaco. This program integrates right in with Slack and allows you to give people taco emojis  and assign a core value to them. At the end of each month, we tally who received the most tacos for each core value and the 5 winners are announced in our monthly team meeting and awarded a gift card. I have even gone so far as to dress us like a taco:  Performance reviews based on our core values We do reviews/check-ins for each of our team members regularly and the leadership team every quarter at OTM. We follow the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) and we use a program called Ninety to do all of our check-ins. In this system, every quarter, the team member evaluates themselves on how they feel they are exhibiting the core values and the managers do the same. This is a nice pulse check to really examine if there is anything that the individual needs to work on. Part of that check-in is called the People Analyzer and it evaluates the team member with a +, +/-, or a - on each of the core values and on Get It, Want It, has the Capacity to do it. + They exhibit the function most of the time +/- They exhibit the function some of the time - They do not exhibit the function most of the timeAn important note: if you see a (-) anywhere in the lineup, it's either the wrong person or the wrong seat, and your team's culture is undoubtedly feeling the incongruence. Get it: The person truly understands their role, the culture, the systems, the pace, and how the job comes together. Want it: The person genuinely likes the job. They understand the role, and they want to do it based on fair compensation and responsibility. Capacity: Having the time as well as the mental, physical, and emotional capacity to do a job well. Sometimes the job requires a certain level of intellect, skill, knowledge, and emotional intelligence and the person doesn't have that capacity. We've learned that core values make all the difference in how we operate as a team and as an organization, not to mention it's helped us find those perfect team members for OTM.
Long walk up steps

A Change Log: Tracking Success – A Monthly Status Report

We live in a fast-paced world. And with that comes change, both planned and unplanned. Tracking these changes is important to our business growth, but it's also important for us to remember what we've done right. This blog post will discuss how you can keep track of your success by utilizing a monthly status report or "changelog." Building a business from the ground up means you have to build your systems and processes from the ground up. As the organization matures and you begin iterating on existing processes, keeping track of the changes across an organization is virtually impossible. We have SOP's for just about everything in the company but we started to lose perspective on the changes in terms of the quantity, impact and timing. What I wanted was to get a snapshot of the changes in our organization. One afternoon I was reading a Change Log for a tool that we use trying to understand if an issue we'd been experiencing was fixed yet or had been changed. I thought this would be a simple and effective way to track high-level business changes. If software developers had used changelogs for decades to document their systems and platforms, why couldn't we do the same for a business? They're different but similar. I took the idea and started off in a core tool of ours, Notion. I set up an empty page and created a header with the Year-Month at the top. Underneath I created four more sub-headers, Team Changes, Client Changes, Operational Changes and Service Changes. That was it! Our first entry looked like this: 202109 -Team Changes: Dee joined our team as a storyteller, "XXXX" has started maternity leave. -Client Changes: No new clients. -Operational Changes: No operational changes. -Service Changes: Decided to pilot a shift in our subscription services in terms of project configuration, moving them to annual plans After some refinement (and copying over data from our leadership team report) we were able to backfill the first two months of our changelog. To be honest, I'd forgotten about some of the changes we've made over the last few months. It was nice to look back and realize the meaningful and purposeful change we've introduced over just the last 2 months. Moving forward, we will append snippets from our weekly team meetings to this changelog as we go. Since its really a changelog around how the company operates, we'll be sharing this with the full team and keeping it accessible to all within Notion.
Post-it note ideas

When Is It Time to Change Your Most Successful Plans

As a leader, I’ve learned that it is important to always be trying new things. If you are not constantly evolving and changing your approach, then someone else will come along and do it for you. However, this doesn’t mean that we should change everything at once. So how do you know when to change? It's typically easier to create new change but what about changing what was once "right"? In this blog post, I want to share a thought around revisiting your customer journey and KPI metrics and how leaders evaluate past decisions and know when they need to stop doing what has been successful for them and start looking into other ideas or approaches. The first element to focus on is your customer journey and how your customers are interacting with your products or services. Many aspects of your customer journey, defined or undefined, evolve over time for a variety of reasons. A primary driver of change would be technology, but who knows, maybe a pandemic will upend everything you've built. As external factors evolve consumer's lives, you must continually evaluate each stage of the customer journey (i.e.: Awareness, Consideration, Purchase, Retention, Advocacy) is being experienced. Are the tools and tactics you're using inside of each stage still relevant to you AND your customer(s)? Take an hour out of your day and re-walked the customer journey and participated in the process yourself for a moment. Take a look back and 3-4 of your past leads/prospects and do some research around their experience with your organization as it relates to the customer journey. Once we've reviewed our customer journey and realigned it with the customer expectations, metrics are your next stop. We all have metrics and we're not going to cover in this post discerning between vanity and real metrics, but let's spend some time looking at the metrics as they relate to the customer journey. Each stage has metrics nowadays we can track everything from impressions on ads, to engagements within email newsletters, live chats on your website and thats just scratching the start of the customer journey. Now is the time to make sure your metrics are applicable and I'll give an example that we see happening a lot right now. For example, retail storefronts typically count "door-swings" as a KPI. This is a great measurement for the Consideration stage, but what happens when those numbers fall lower and lower but your sales are climbing up and up? Does it mean that you have a hot product? Or that you have targeted better customers? Or does it simply mean that the customers have done more evaluation (consideration) online (typically Awareness) and your customers are self-qualifying themselves? If you make an assumption that it's one of those three scenarios without analyzing the reality, you're making broad assumptions and doubling down on something that is unsubstantiated with data. If so, maybe you should consider adding live-chat functionality and pairing that with your door-swing KPI! So in closing, it is important to remember that you are always a student of your customer. If you're not constantly re-evaluating and learning more about how they interact with your business, then someone else will come along and change the game on you!