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How to Make Short-Form Videos That Stand Out

Captivate your audience with expert short-form video tips for brands and social media managers.

Hannah Macready May 18, 2023
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Looking to make a splash with short-form video content? You’re not alone. Short-form video is all the rage right now, with GWI reporting almost half of all internet usage is devoted to watching video content.

But, with so many people jumping on the short-form video ship, standing out is more important than ever. Here are our top tips for including unique and compelling short-form video content in your marketing strategy — and captivating your audience.

Bonus: Claim your pack of free animated Instagram Reels templates created by Hootsuite’s professional designers. Easily customize them in Canva, and take your Reels game to the next level today.

What is short-form video?

Short-form video refers to video content that is between five seconds and ninety seconds long. Short videos are intended to be quick, easily digestible content for viewers scrolling through social media feeds or other outlets.

Common examples of short-form videos include TikTok videos, Instagram Stories and Reels, YouTube shorts, and Snapchat Spotlight and stories.


working from home in style 😎 #wfh #smm #socialmediamanager #corporatemillennial

♬ original sound – Hootsuite

Why is short-form video so popular?

Short-form video content isn’t new. In fact, Vine – the short-form video app introduced in 2012 – was an early pioneer of the format. But what started as a niche platform has grown into something much larger, with tech giants like Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube catering to short attention spans and launching short-form video features of their own.

Today, TikTok is the most downloaded app in the world, and ranks number one for consumer spending according to a report by Other short-form video platforms, like Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube, aren’t far behind.

stats on most downloaded apps in the world

Source: Hootsuite



This rise in popularity is due, in part, to the fact that short-form video is more accessible and engaging than ever before. With an average video length of 15-30 seconds, creators can deliver their message in a very small window of time – allowing viewers to consume content on the go with little to no commitment.

Data from Wyzowl found that 73% of consumers prefer to watch short-form videos when learning about a product or service.

Short-form videos can also be shared and watched from any device, which furthers their accessibility and popularity among users. From sending Snapchat stories on the subway to watching YouTube shorts in the dentist waiting room – viewers can access and engage with content at any time.

Short-form video is also generally cheap and easy to produce and requires minimal production effort. All you need is a smartphone and a good idea. Plus, hosting platforms like TikTok and Instagram are all free to use.

Platforms themselves are also tailored to user interests. TikTok’s algorithm suggests videos based on what users like to watch, while Instagram’s Explore page helps users discover new content that aligns with their interests. This focus on personalization and connection keeps viewers engaged with the platforms and your content.

In a nutshell, short-form video content is popular because:

  • It’s easy to create and share
  • It can be easily viewed on the go
  • Social media algorithms promote content users like
  • Algorithms make discoverability and virality easy
  • It requires minimal production costs

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13 short-form video best practices

Dive into short-form video marketing with these tips and best practices.

1. Use vertical content

Most short-form video platforms are designed for content to be viewed on mobile devices in a vertical format.

Vertical formats allow videos to take up the full width of a phone screen, creating a more immersive and engaging experience for the viewer.

On platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat, users are used to scrolling through vertical feeds and will be more likely to watch your content if it’s in the same format. By contrast, horizontally-aligned videos can often appear small and difficult to view, resulting in lower engagement.

If you want to know the best sizes for content on every platform, check out our social media size guide.

2. Hook your audience

Short-form video is just that: short. This means you only have a few seconds to capture your viewers’ attention.

Starting your video with a strong hook, through on-screen text, eye-catching visuals, or with a tantalizing story, can help draw your audience in and keep them watching.

The best types of short-form videos for marketing capture attention, evoke emotions, elicit action, and inspire engagement. Focus on creating an emotional narrative that will stick with viewers long after they finish watching.


Most Beautiful Places in Australia 🤩✨ #nature #adventure #explore #traveling • 🎥 @joaocajuda (IG) | @1amny (IG) | @Lola Hubner | @Michael Drake | @sailor.jay (IG) | @from.miles.away (IG) (DM us please for credits or removal 🙏)


3. Pay attention to trends

Short-form video trends move fast, and the best creators are the ones who can stay ahead of the curve.

Are there sound bytes or songs that are being used again and again? Filters, animations, and visuals that you see posted day after day? Audiences are drawn to these trends, and incorporating them into your videos will increase the chances of your video reaching more people.


pov: my British fiancée when i took him home for the 1st time 🤣 🤣 in the UK tax is included in price & tipping is very uncommon so he was SHOOK 😭

♬ Worsaaaaa – ✨Kae Da Don✨

4. Keep it short

While short-form videos can technically be up to three minutes long, the best ones are less than a minute.

Short is the sweet spot on platforms like TikTok, which reported to WIRED Magazine that the optimal video length sits at a bite-size 11 to 17 seconds. In fact, the same report found that videos over 60 seconds actually stress users out – yikes.

Similarly, while Instagram reels can be up to 90 seconds long, Hootsuite reporting found that between 7 and 15 seconds is where you want to land.

Here’s a breakdown of ideal lengths on all short-form video platforms:


Am I the only one that requires constant mental stimulation and challenges to solve orrrrrr… #quitmyjob #shouldiquit #workdrama #workhumor #corporatetiktok #corporatehumor

♬ original sound – Selenagomez fan

5. Post regularly

Consistency is key when it comes to short-form video marketing. Platforms like TikTok and Instagram prioritize accounts that post between three and five times per week, while platforms like Snapchat suggest posting multiple times per day.

Regular posting keeps your audience engaged and gives the platform’s algorithm enough content to choose from when surfacing videos. This will help you reach more viewers and build an audience of loyal followers.

Keep in mind that quality is just as important as quantity—be sure to post interesting and engaging content rather than simply churning out low-quality videos on a daily basis. Aim to spend some time refining each video and creating content that your audience will enjoy.

6. Partner with relevant influencers and brands

If you’re looking to reach a wider audience, teaming up with influencers or relevant brands can be highly effective. Data from Civic Science found that 14% of 18 to 24-year-olds reported purchasing products in the last six months due to a blogger or influencer recommending it.

Partnering with relevant brands and influencers can increase your reach and help create more engaging content for your short-form videos. Look for influencers with a similar target audience to yours with a good track record of producing high-quality content.

For brand partnerships, consider companies that have similar values to yours, or products that are complementary.

Bonus: Learn the basics of building an influencer marketing campaign in our complete guide.


Get it early on @roblox. Grill our new Garlic Guajillo Steak at the Chipotle on Roblox to try it in real life before it officially launches in restaurant. US & CAN, 13+ only. Drops: 7am PT & 3pm PT on 9/13 & 9/14; 25K codes avail. per drop. Terms: #roblox #robloxsim #chipotle #steak #steaktok

♬ original sound – Chipotle

7. Avoid cross-posting video content with watermarks

One of the most significant barriers to brands and creators when it comes to short-form video content is resourcing. While a 15-second video might not seem like a lot of effort, creating original content does take time and effort.

Because of this, many brands opt to cross-post the same video across multiple social media platforms. While this can save time, it’s important to note that recycled content, especially content with clear watermarks, can hurt your rankings on platforms like Instagram.

In 2022, Instagram announced it would start prioritizing original content on its platform. This means that recycled content could be given less visibility, hurting your overall reach and engagement.

Does that mean you can’t cross-post at all? Well, not really. Check out our blog on removing TikTok watermarks so you can cross-post without getting penalized.

8. Showcase products in use

One of the best ways to leverage short-form video content as a brand is by showcasing your products in action. Explainer videos help potential customers visualize how and why they would use the product, building anticipation for it, if done correctly.

You can easily showcase a product’s features, benefits, and testimonials—all within a few seconds of viewing time. If your product has a niche use, like Vessi’s waterproof sneakers, show viewers all the ways they can use them in their everyday life.

Consider installation and set-up videos for more technical products. Your customers will appreciate the convenience and you’ll be able to better educate them on how your product works.

9. Tap into user-generated content (UGC)

A great way to get more eyes on your short-form content is to tap into user-generated content (UGC). This can be anything from customer stories, reviews, and testimonials to videos of your customers using the product.

By leveraging UGC, you build trust with potential customers as they can see the real-life experiences of people who have used your products or services. You can then share this content on your channels for added exposure.

Similarly, building hype around product drops, launches, and promotions fits short-form video platforms well. 79% of TikTok users say they like it when brands come up with challenges, trends, and memes they can join in with.

Offer free products or trials for the best TikTok Stitch or Duet videos. Or, engage a famous influencer to talk about your product and create a branded hashtag–like Shaq and Papa John’s Pizza did below.


#duet with @karaleighcannella #shaqaroni Ayyye #🍕ole girl was hittin that #shaqaroni dance. i got $$ for the best duet

♬ Shaq-a-Roni – Shaquille O’Neal

10. Be authentic

Short-form video content is all about authenticity. Users are drawn to videos that feel honest, real, and sincere.

Data from Nielsen found that globally, an average of 64% of TikTok users say they can be their true selves on TikTok, while an average of 56% of TikTok users say they can post videos they wouldn’t post elsewhere. This sentiment isn’t limited to a particular locale, language or culture.

The best short-form video marketing highlights the human behind the brand, not just the product or service. High-production value is less important than creating an authentic connection with viewers.

Don’t be afraid to show imperfections, behind-the-scenes content, and candid moments, in order to boost relatability.


Do u wanna see the results?? @iamjesserichards #neverletyougo

♬ Never Let You Go – Shouse & Jason Derulo

11. Be funny

Humour is a huge part of platforms like TikTok, not only because it’s fun to watch, but also because TikTok users are 1.4x more likely to buy something if a sponsored video is humorous.

Humour creates positive feelings towards your brand, naturally leading to higher engagement and conversions. Always avoid offensive content, but don’t hold back when tapping into current trends or cultural references that will make your video stand out.


Is it a problem? Maybe. Do I care? No. #scrubdaddy #smile #cleantok #cleaningtiktok #americasfavoritesponge #meme #pedropascal

♬ original sound – TheVincentMottola

12. Make your content accessible

Accessibility in social media is no longer a nice-to-have, but an absolute must.

People with disabilities should be able to view your short-form video content as easily as any other viewer. That’s why you need to make sure that any text or audio included in your videos is accessible and optimized for viewers who may have hearing or visual impairments.

This might include adding text overlays or captions, as well as any visual cues that might help viewers understand the content. Additionally, you should focus on providing high-quality audio that can be heard clearly.

Here are a few more tips on making short-form video content accessible:

13. Include a call-to-action (CTA)

Short-form video content is not complete without a clear call-to-action (CTA) at the end. This should be your cue to direct viewers on what they should do next, whether it’s subscribing to a channel or visiting your website.

On social media platforms like Instagram, you can also make videos shoppable and encourage viewers to purchase right away. If you don’t have the option to tag a product directly, add a purchase link in your bio or in the video description. This will help you capitalize on every view.

If you’re using links in your bio, be sure to add UTM tracking parameters to it so you can easily track how many people click through and make a purchase.

Short-form video tools

Creating and sharing short-form videos is easy when you have the right tools. Check out our top picks below.

Adobe Premiere Rush

Wow’d by all the professional transitions, cuts, and effects you see on TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube? Want to learn how to make them yourself? Adobe Premiere Rush is the perfect tool for creating high-quality short-form video content without needing a professional video editor.

three screens showing adobe rush video editing capabilities

Source: Adobe

With Adobe Premiere Rush, you can add transitions, customize titles, adjust speed, add audio, and even use colour correction techniques from within the app. Plus, you can export your new creation to any social channel, using the perfect aspect ratio for your viewers.

Adobe Express

Adobe Express is for those looking for a quicker way to edit on the go. While not as robust as Adobe Premiere Rush, it’s perfect for creating short-form video content quickly and on-the-fly.

Take advantage of the preloaded templates and themes, drag-and-drop features, and video resizing capabilities to create custom short-form videos on the go. Plus, add text, animation, and stickers to give your videos a unique edge.


Don’t make a new format like talking videos, harder than it is! Its easy as… 1. Hook 2. Value 3. CTA Save this video for later and let us know if it helps! #adobeexpress #videotips #contentcreatortips #videoformats #reelstips

♬ original sound – Adobe Express


CapCut is another fantastic video editing app if you’re looking to create impressive short-form videos. It is owned by the same parent company as TikTok, so it has everything you need to create viral content.

With CapCut, you can trim and merge clips and add various sound effects, custom fonts and stickers to your videos. Plus, the app is completely free! Check out more free video editing tools on our blog.


aesthetic use of overlay #capcut #videoedit #cccreator #viral #fyp #tutorial

♬ original sound – CapCut


Scheduling short-form video content can be a hassle if you’re doing it manually. That’s why we recommend using Hootsuite to set up an automated schedule for your content.

hootsuite analytics tiktok report

Hootsuite allows you to easily plan, post and monitor TikToks, Instagra, Reels and Stories, and YouTube videos in one place. Unlike many native schedulers, which have caps on how far ahead you can schedule content, Hootsuite lets you schedule posts as far out as you want.

With its robust analytics suite, Hootsuite also helps you understand your content’s performance and adjust accordingly. Plus, it supports multiple accounts, so you can manage all your brands and channels in one unified dashboard.

Create, edit, and schedule jaw-dropping short-form videos for any platform using Hootsuite. Try it free today.

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By Hannah Macready

Hannah Macready is a freelance writer with 12 years of experience in social media and digital marketing. Her work has appeared in publications such as Fast Company and The Globe & Mail, and has been used in global social media campaigns for brands like Grosvenor Americas and Intuit Mailchimp. In her spare time, Hannah likes exploring the outdoors with her two dogs, Soup and Salad.

Read more by Hannah Macready

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