TikTok has transformed how video is consumed; creators use the platform to promote their businesses, music, and now it’s a destination for news and politics. Last month, TikTok announced that they would be expanding their maximum video time to 10 minutes—a move we’re attributing to their competition with platforms like Youtube for more traffic. (Originally, TikTok was created for short-form video content that lasted up to a minute. There was a more recent update to expand to 3 minute videos.)
This new update lends itself to many possibilities for creators, especially up and coming political candidates and advocacy groups, providing an opportunity to reach viewers quickly and get out as much information as possible. The new 10 minute video option is ideal for creating informed videos on specific policies, showing more videos of press conferences and speeches, or even showing viewers a more in depth look into candidates’ and staffers’ personal lives.
The biggest question here is: how are creators going to keep viewers engaged for 10 minutes? Viewers will typically drop off after a few seconds when scrolling through TikTok. It’s going to be more important than ever to create content that’s really engaging and worth the time to view.
There are a few TikTok accounts, like @underthedesknews, @traphousesports, @officialnickkosir, and @thedodo, that do really well in providing engaging content and in radiating their personality. Whether it’s @underthedesknews providing clear explanations on current events from literally, underneath their desk or @thedodo using compelling videos and music to amplify their storytelling mannerisms, the thing that makes them stand out is that they do something that is unique and others find hard to replicate.
There are pros and cons to venturing into longer form content; there is more room to be creative and think outside the box on how to engage audiences — for political campaigns, the difference could be hundreds of voters, and can even impact the result of their election. There is also the opportunity for visual storytelling, whether it be on a specific political issue or simply about promoting proper voting information in a level of a detail not possible with shorter-form videos. Do Big Things recently worked on an influencer campaign with Family Story to share awareness and raise the voices of single mothers — this outreach effort allowed single mothers and people raised by single mothers to use their creativity to share their story.
Longer form content also eliminates the need for creators to have the “like for part two” issue (meaning their content is already so long that they need to create a second video and viewers may drop off in between parts instead of having everything all in one).
Drop off can happen quickly, so anything that’s truly critical to the video must be presented in the first minute. Or the video can take viewers on an emotional journey where they have to find out what happens in the end.
It will be interesting to see how political campaigns and advocacy groups use this new tool to further their message and mission. It really is going to be a case of trial and error to see what works for their platform and audience.