TikTok, currently the leading destination for short-form mobile video, has made numerous substantial updates to the app this past year. One of the more notable changes made was the introduction of three-minute videos, which has raised a lot of eyebrows. Some users are excited for the opportunity to create, share and/or watch longer-form videos. Others believe the magic of TikTok lies in its exclusively short-form video content that evidently captures the approximate 8-second attention spans of its main audience, Gen Z.

The question is, as TikTok increases its video length allowance, what does this mean for the future of short-form video content?

Inevitable evolution

The evolution of social media platforms is natural and unavoidable. Take a look at the evolution of Instagram over the last ten years. Instagram once ruled the social media scene with photo content only, until users decided that they wanted more from the experience, such as video content. With the recent upgrade of three-minute videos, TikTok is proactively adapting its experience to suit the needs of existing and potential users so that it can continue to increase downloads and usage, as well as keep its competitive edge. It’s not about the dissolution of short-form video, it’s about the evolution of a platform.

One of the key elements to TikTok’s success is the love of music by all age groups. The incorporation of music offers an element of excitement, creating new trends, memes, and challenges, and with new songs constantly being released on the platform, there’s always something new to do, a new dance, a new duet, etc. The ability to record and edit three-minute videos will allow this element of the app to thrive. Artists will have the ability to create and share full-length songs and music videos. Dancers can create, share and teach longer dance routines. Aspiring virtuosos can record longer duets and perhaps even release their own music on the platform. The introduction of longer videos ultimately provides an opportunity for the app’s music scene to flourish.

The hashtag #LearnOnTikTok has always been popular on TikTok, and you’ll even see it featured on the app’s Discover page. Whether it was meant to or not, TikTok has become a destination for education and learning. Creators are sharing insights and knowledge in the form of shopping hauls, beauty tutorials, cooking demos, cleaning hacks, music lessons, financial tips, and the list goes on. With three-minute videos, creators have more time to share their valued knowledge and they have more flexibility as to how they share it. There will no longer be a need for the ever-popular ‘Part Two’ and ‘Part Three’ video series.

Another reason for the upgrade may have to do with recent developments in e-commerce solutions, such as Live Shopping. Creators that aim to build a career on social media will not have to turn to other social media platforms to participate in Live Shopping events if they have the time and ability to do so on TikTok. It gives creators the ability to further build their brand and make a living on the app.

Listening to the creators

All in all, TikTok is doing the right thing by listening to creators, who are asking for more time to be creative on the app. One key point to remember is that TikTok is not removing short-form videos. Short-form videos will continue to exist on the platform, only now, creators and marketers will simply have more options. Audiences will not be forced to sit through a long video if they do not wish to, they can always swipe. If anything, this change gives more freedom to TikTok’s users to work with the app in a way that best suits them. In fact, creators will need to be hyper-aware of viewer retention in order to keep audiences engaged in longer-form videos.

In the end, only time will tell which videos triumph, short or long, and whether or not it has anything to do with the length of the video or simply the content of the video itself. If the change is met with enough resistance over time, it wouldn’t be the first social media platform to remove a feature that wasn’t performing well. It pays to remember that the attention span for an app that never changes has an expiry date. TikTok’s mission is to inspire creativity and bring joy. They never specified that this would be exclusive with short-form videos. As social media and e-commerce evolve, so will TikTok. With the ultimate goal of keeping users and creators engaged on the platform, it is important to listen to users and adapt accordingly.

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