Social & Influencers

The rise of short-form video: How to make clips that really *sing*

A call-to-action is one of the most important elements to include, marketers say.
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Amelia Kinsinger

· 5 min read

When TikTok debuted in 2016, another app had already stolen the hearts (and eyeballs) of millions:

In 2017, was acquired by TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance. In 2018,’s accounts were migrated to TikTok. You might say the rest is history: Fast-forward five years, and TikTok is now a global juggernaut, boasting 1 billion active users worldwide.

While it has prompted data security concerns and even talk of a federal ban, TikTok has also spurred competing products, namely Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts. Marketers are increasingly interested in short-form video, typically defined as 60 seconds or less: About one-third of social marketers plan to invest the most in short-form video this year compared to other formats, according to a survey conducted by HubSpot.

As marketers continue experimenting with the format, they’re getting a sense of what works, what doesn’t, and how they can create the most impact.

“Don’t be afraid to test and learn,” Candice Beck, director of social, influencer, and Web3 at Chipotle, told us. “We have videos that totally outperform our benchmarks, and then we have videos that might not perform as well, and we learned from them…Being comfortable with that, and knowing that not every video is gonna go viral, is important.”

Recipe for short-from video success

Michael Woolsey is co-founder of Gassed, a social creative agency focused on TikTok ads. According to Woolsey, short-form videos should have a compelling introduction, quick sequences, and portray a clear call-to-action. Woolsey said you have about “two seconds to get them to stop scrolling,” noting that formats like a “how-to” explainer or listicle-style content are particularly useful.

It’s really about “making sure that we have some stopping-and-engaging content that people can visually engage with at a higher rate, with the main objective of still getting people to the site and converting,” Woolsey said.

Gassed worked on a campaign for Litter-Robot that followed a similar recipe. In one 29-second TikTok posted on the brand’s account, a robot voiceover highlights three features of the litter box, ending with a CTA prompting users to click on a link to learn more about the product.


Other marketers agreed that factors like a call-to-action are crucial. Austin Armstrong, CEO of social marketing agency Socialty Pro, said even compelling users to share a TikTok can benefit a brand.

“The share button is one of the highest-weighted metrics in the TikTok algorithm,” he said. “If you can get somebody to share a video, even if it’s with themselves…they’re going to come back to that video later. Or if they share it with a friend or anything like that, it turns one view into two views.”

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The Renegade is so last year

Marketers said that videos with an educational slant can also gain traction. Take The Hoth, an SEO agency with its own TikTok account.

Max Gomez Montejo, CMO at The Hoth, said the agency has been creating short-form videos that blend education and entertainment. “We call it edutainment, which is pretty much the way we entertain a user by providing education when it comes to SEO,” Gomez said.

Beck said Chipotle has also incorporated educational elements into its TikTok videos, like “what’s happening in our restaurants every day” in addition to “highlighting and spotlighting employees and our real ingredients that are coming in from the farms and our real techniques.”

On The Hoth’s TikTok, Gomez said different types of content, such as “unboxing” videos and “short interviews when we highlight a specific success story with one of our clients,” can perform well.

The Hoth also leans into its mascot on TikTok, an approach that other brands have found works well. In a TikTok posted last summer, the mascot laments the high number of TikToks featuring one of two songs, either “About Damn Time” by Lizzo or “Running Up That Hill” by Kate Bush.

Spread your wings

Aside from the content itself, Armstrong endorsed posting across different platforms.

“For me personally, TikTok, YouTube Shorts, Instagram Reels, and Facebook Reels are all my top-performing platforms. I’ll create one video and post it across all four and that has worked exceptionally well,” he said, later noting that “the vast majority of businesses and clients that we’ve worked with are seeing results across the board with the same videos.”

Chipotle has a strong TikTok following (2.2 million strong) and Beck said it is building out its presence on other short-form video platforms, like YouTube Shorts.

“We’re looking at YouTube Shorts and we recently posted a handful of videos over there. We’re sort of learning from the engagement,” Beck said. “There’s also an opportunity to lean in and just create content specific for YouTube, especially while they’re investing in Shorts right now,” Beck said.

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