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3 Strategies for Making Better Short-Form Videos on TikTok and Instagram

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Short-form video has graduated from a fun bonus feature to a must-have element of a brand story. Shortly after TikTok went viral, Instagram made the decision to launch a new video function that allows anyone to create video content to help them resonate with a wider audience.

Reels might seem to be playing second fiddle, especially given TikTok’s ubiquity with Generation Z and the fact that the app has seen more than 2 billion downloads in its young life. However, Instagram’s massive reach means that it is resilient and can undoubtedly fill gaps in the market. If TikTok were to flounder, Instagram is poised to pick up millions more users than it currently has.

As marketers, we can see the indispensable benefits of short-form video. So if both TikTok and Instagram are offering powerful platforms, does it really matter which one your brand is using?

Which Is Better for Short-form Video Content: TikTok or Instagram?

Both platforms hold sway over the general public, but while posting to both platforms is smart, marketers need to understand that content cannot simply be copied and pasted from one channel to the other.

Not only will editing features vary across platforms, but so will the algorithms, the audiences, and the types of content those audiences prefer to consume. The same piece of content can have different resonance depending on the platform. Reels has a larger caption limit, for example, so longer videos and more complex stories have a better chance there. TikTok is a speedier beast, with a 100-character limit.

The way audiences engage with both platforms differs as well. TikTok offers the “duet” option, making it more interactive. TikTok also relies on a trend culture and the ability to provoke viral memes via challenges, dances, and lip syncing. In contrast, users on Instagram are less tuned in to entertainment value; their primary motive might be just to connect with their friends, catch up, or view more aesthetic content.

How to Create Short-Form Video Campaigns on Instagram and TikTok

There isn’t a set of guiding principles that can lead marketers in creating content for both TikTok and Instagram. However, if there were, the No. 1 priority would be knowing the platform inside and out.

If you know each app well enough, you can create content that feels native to each platform, even if much of it is reused. Here are some tips to optimize your short video content, no matter where you’re delivering it:

1. Set Yourself Apart from the Pack, But Watch What They’re Doing

You want your videos to share unique insight into your industry. You might even offer behind-the-scenes treasure or insider tips. Yet at the same time, you want to be looking to your competition for inspiration and guidance. How are your competitors using video on their social profiles? What seems to be working for them? You can use this information to help guide your videos or provide inspiration for marketing campaigns. Furthermore, by creating unique content specific to your brand, you give your videos a chance to stand apart from the others and offer new views not yet discussed.

2. Play the Long Game

Many marketers who fail to make a name for themselves on TikTok or Instagram give up too early. They post a few videos, see little traction, and switch tactics before figuring out what went wrong and how to make it better. Learning how to please the algorithm and the audience will take time — on either platform — so keep watching the metrics and tweaking your strategy. After all, practice makes perfect.

3. Answer the Questions People are Asking

Entertainment goes a long way, but if you want to use social media to grow your audience and deepen your customer relationships, video can be a great tool to illuminate your brand. You can do this by answering questions that prospective customers are asking.This allows you to address any hesitation people might have about your brand and its values while also nurturing your current audience. Remember, entertaining and authentic content always wins on TikTok and Instagram.

When it comes to video marketing, many brands are losing out because they’re hesitating. Unsure whether they have the skills or the strategies to make video work, they would be better off simply pressing “record” and getting started. Fortunately in the long run, every video you make is a chance to learn and make a better one next time.

These strategies can help you make content for both TikTok and Instagram, reusing and repurposing where necessary. The most important thing to remember, however, is that when it comes to short video, you have to be in it to win it.

About the author


Hope Horner

Hope Horner is CEO and founder of Lemonlight, a video production company that produces branded video content at scale. Hope is a three-time entrepreneur who has been featured in Inc., Entrepreneur, Forbes, and other publications highlighting her successes in the Silicon Beach community over the past decade.