Can TikTok really take on IG and YouTube with its 10-min long-form content?

Can TikTok really take on IG and YouTube with its 10-min long-form content?

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TikTok has extended its maximum length for uploads to 10 minutes. Known for its short-form videos that last 30 to 60 seconds, the social media platform first extended the video length last June to three minutes. The duration was later lengthened again in November 2021 to five minutes, and now those minutes have shot up to 10. Clearly, extending to long-form content has been on TikTok's agenda for some time, and there are no prizes for guessing that it aims to rival YouTube and IGTV. At the same time, seeing the success of TikTok's short-form content, rival platforms have also started to create their own version of short-form videos with offerings such as YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels. Snapchat on the other hand adopted TikTok's music feature into its offering.

TikTok's success is undeniable, Last year, the platform ranked top in breakout social app by spend, according to App Annie. While TikTok's latest move might make sense from a business expansion perspective, netizens didn't seem to be impressed. Some have pointed out that the purpose of TikTok was to have short videos and if it was going to be 10 minutes long, they would rather watch YouTube. Some added that they would be scrolling past the TikTok if it was 10 minutes long. 







TikTok's spokesperson told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE that it is always thinking about new ways to bring value to its community and enrich the TikTok experience. "Last year, we introduced longer videos, giving our community more time to create and be entertained on TikTok. Today, we're excited to start rolling out the ability to upload videos that are up to 10 minutes, which we hope would unleash even more creative possibilities for our creators around the world," the spokesperson said.

Speaking to MARKETING-INTERACTIVE on the latest move, popular Singaporean content creator Preeti Nair, also known as Preetipls, said the news came as a surprise  as she has always regarded TikTok as a platform for short-form content. Nair is known for long-form content and has a web series titled Nobody Asked as well as her podcast Chai Me, B*tch!. She posts regularly on TikTok, Instagram, YouTube and Facebook. On TikTok, in particular, Nair has 43.5k followers and 835.1k likes on her videos. Like many other content creators, Nair generally hosts her content on YouTube, Facebook and IGTV as these platforms are suited for long-form content.

"I think a 10-minute time limit for TikTok will be interesting because this means I can post entire videos on TikTok. It will be interesting to see how people are using this app and if users have the attention span to watch a 10-minute video while scrolling through TikTok. I'm interested to know what kind of content people will be putting out on TikTok now," she said. As of now, Nair plans to observe how her personal friends are consuming content, before deciding if it makes sense to drop videos that are more than five minutes long on YouTube. "TikTok will no longer serve as a place where I post teasers of my videos and direct viewers to YouTube and Facebook. It can be one of the main platforms where I upload full videos of my web series, Nobody Asked," she said.

While long-form video is still considered unchartered territory for TikTok, it definitely offers creators more space to play around and be creative. With this new format, Mandar Wairkar, creative director, Reprise Digital Malaysia said TikTok can now compete with the likes of YouTube and Instagram as well as increase its overall engagement time on the app. Additionally, it is also a win for the creators because it offers them a larger canvas to showcase their creativity, as well as bring about a new and wider set of audiences to the app. 

"What I would really be looking forward to is seeing how TikTok positions itself in this territory. If TikTok can provide creators similar help in context to interesting templates or a structure to help them get accustomed to with this long format, I’m sure we will be seeing even crazier and cooler possibilities from cooking demos, beauty tutorials to stand-up comedy sets, educational content, dance challenges and more," he said.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE's Content 360 is back for its 10th year! Running from 26 to 27 April 2022, the hybrid conference covers topics including the creator economy, value-based storytelling strategy, consumable content on social, as well as video and community content. Register today to learn, connect and level up with the best content marketers in Asia!

No risk to business

According to Wang Xiaofeng, senior analyst at Forrester even if the longer format of videos appear on TikTok, its key appeal as a short video platform won’t change as the majority of TikTok videos will remain short. Extending its video length limit simply shows the development of TikTok as a platform has grown into a new stage – focusing more on engagement and commercialisation rather than acquiring more new users. Moreover, longer video length limit would provide more room for content creators to provide engaging content and essentially more varieties of ad formats and larger ad inventories. She added:

By doing this, TikTok can explore more possibilities and test the waters, rather than disrupting its own key business model.

Nonetheless, attracting the right talent will take time and less likely to be in a large scale, said Wang. Citing Twitter’s doubling of characters for tweets from 140 to 280, she explained that user habits don’t change in a short period of time. “After Twitter doubled tweets length limit of its characters, majority of the tweets still remained short,” she said.

Last but not least, TikTok also has strong rivals to compete with who are well-established and mature platform. “YouTube is the go-to place for most consumers if they want to watch free long videos. It’s very difficult to convince consumers to switch to a new platform with similar offerings,” she added.

While the Internet might be abuzz with chatter about TikTok's latest decision, Kelvin Koo, managing director, Singapore at ADK said this move is not new. Douyin, which is also owned by TikTok's parent company ByteDance, introduced 15-minute videos in 2019. However, the success of that move is still uncertain, with short-form content and livestreaming still being the dominant content on Douyin. Koo added that the latest move by TikTok is largely driven by a need to grow market share.

"It will be interesting to see if ByteDance is banking on a different trajectory with TikTok," he said. Beyond the short snippets and instant gratification it offers, Koo attributed TikTok's allure and its meteoric rise to the creator community who are encouraged by the opportunity to go viral through the use of hashtag challenges.

"However, the skills required to make longer-form content is very different and the key would be whether the TikTok creators will be able to get the same kind of success they had with their 15 to 60-second videos," he said. The challenge for TikTok is whether the current creator community will bite, Koo said, and whether the social media platform can entice the existing YouTube creator community with the promise of greater monetary rewards and eyeballs. Hence, success for TikTok might boil down to who rewards creators more - YouTube's partner programme or TikTok's creator fund.

Geopolitics and trust may fuel growth

Aside from being the top breakout social app by spend in 2021, App Annie's data also showed that TikTok topped the daily downloads chart across iOS and Google Play worldwide for apps on Christmas Day. Without a doubt, this strategic move can be seen as TikTok building on its momentum from 2021 as it edges into the territory of Instagram and YouTube, 8traordinary's founder and MD, Jeffrey Lim, said.

While the long-form space might seem crowded, Lim believes that TikTok still has the opportunity to thrive. According to him, some common pain points for consumers are that Instagram still belongs to Meta, which may carry the stigma of privacy and trust issues. There also seems to ben an increase in ads on YouTube these days. 

"If TikTok can maintain the users’ data integrity while providing a platform for great entertainment, education and information with minimal disruption when a user is enjoying their videos, it will continue to thrive and attract more viewers," he explained.

Media.Monks APAC marketing director, Shashwith Uthappa, described TikTok's latest move to be bold as it looks to entice users from other spaces such as Instagram and YouTube. "We can’t put blinders on the fact that the geopolitical climate will play a significant part in the adoption of the social platform, for the new audiences TikTok seeks to engage," she said. According to Uthappa, Instagram and YouTube have a significant advantage on that given that they are US-based companies.

What TikTok can do to stand out is find connectors between short and long-form videos, like a teaser to the film.

Photo courtesy: 123RF

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE's Content 360 is back for its 10th year! Running from 26 to 27 April 2022, the hybrid conference covers topics including the creator economy, value-based storytelling strategy, consumable content on social, as well as video and community content. Register today to learn, connect and level up with the best content marketers in Asia!

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