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Over the past few years, short-form video has become one of the most engaging and fastest-growing content types across social media platforms.
TikTok, YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels have all seen meteoric growth, garnering billions of users. According to Statista, Shorts alone boasts 30 billion views daily and 1.5 billion monthly active users in 2023.
Consequently, vertical short-form video has immense potential for digital marketers and businesses alike, and many now incorporate it into their strategies.
However, there are several typical pitfalls you need to dodge to leverage the full power of vertical video. Here are the seven most common short-form video mistakes to avoid in your marketing strategy.
1. Expecting instant results
First off, it’s essential to keep your expectations realistic. While short-form video often gets high engagement and can go viral, don’t expect your follower count to explode overnight.
In the vast majority of cases, growing a following through short-form content still takes time, effort, and consistency. Especially if you don’t have an existing baseline activity on your Instagram profile or YouTube channel, the Reels and Shorts algorithm can be torpid.
An awareness of this is crucial when setting milestones for your marketing strategy, helping you draw up realistic plans and preventing disappointment.
2. Neglecting (brand) consistency
As mentioned already, consistency is key when creating short-form content, especially if you’re setting up new profiles.
This doesn’t just mean regularly uploading new clips. It also means producing content with consistent quality and branding.
The quality of your videography is key for engagement. And consistent branding — everything from editing style to logos and caption fonts — determines how memorable and recognizable your clips are.
When drawing up your short-form strategy, investing time and resources in these branding aspects in advance is well worth it in the long run.
3. Posting irrelevant clips
The next major pitfall for your short-form strategy is the type of content you produce.
Ultimately, your aim is to increase brand awareness, highlight your expertise and your products — and to convert viewers into customers.
That means your content has to be relevant to these goals.
Let’s say you are a graphic design agency. There is little point in putting efforts into reproducing TikTok dances or engaging in challenges.
Instead, focus on making your business relatable — e.g., “A day in the life of a graphic designer” — or showcasing your skills with hacks, demos and how-tos.
4. Making content too long and complex
Short-form content on some platforms can run up to 2 minutes and 30 seconds. If you’re not used to producing clips like this, it can be tempting to exploit this limit to the fullest.
In most cases, this is a mistake.
While it is possible to make longer videos, shorter ones are still more successful. According to information TikTok shared with select creators in 2022, later reported by WIRED, approximately 25% of the most successful videos on the platform are between 21 and 34 seconds long.
For Instagram Reels, the recommended duration is even shorter, with some industry experts putting it at a mere 7 to 15 seconds.
The bottom line? Keep your content short and zesty.
That means reducing the complexity of your message and the number of ideas you can communicate in a single clip. In most cases, focusing on bringing across one central idea is best.
Another implication of this short recommended video length is that it’s essential to put extra effort into your hook. The first few seconds of your video have to immediately captivate your viewers’ attention — they have to pack visual panache and the promise of information and entertainment.
5. Losing track of your target audience
Another common mistake many businesses make when integrating short-form content into their marketing strategy is losing track of their target audience.
Your marketing strategy should already be based around a clearly defined target audience and buyer personas. Short-form video content is no different.
However, there are several adjustments you need to make. Short-form content is particularly popular among younger audiences, Gen Z and Millennials in particular. According to data released by Kepios in early 2023, the vast majority of TikTok’s above-18 ad audience is composed of people aged 18-24 (39%) and those aged 25-34 (32%).
While older generations are slowly catching on to the use of short-form content, especially on Instagram and YouTube, the typical vertical video viewer is under 35. How you present your business needs to be adjusted for that.
6. Not including captions
On the technical side, a common shortcoming of short-form video content published by businesses is the lack of captions. It is a distinguishing feature of platforms like Shorts, Reels and TikTok that many viewers prefer to watch content on mute.
According to recent statistics, 69% of viewers watch videos without sound, especially when in public. Consequently, they tend to scroll past clips that lack captions.
In addition, well-designed captions with appropriate fonts, backgrounds, and colors can act as additional visual incentives and boost your overall engagement.
7. Forgetting your call to action
Finally, one of the most common mistakes in short-form video for business purposes is to forget your call to action (CTA).
Just getting viewers to watch your video is not the endgame. It’s to get them to take a particular action — to check out your services, start a trial, subscribe to your newsletter, follow your accounts, buy your products.
That’s why including a CTA is essential, even in the shortest of your videos. You can include it in your script, captions, overlay, copy and comments. But you need to include it.
The bottom line
Short-form content on Reels, TikTok and Shorts has immense potential for boosting your business’ visibility.
However, to succeed, you need to avoid the most common mistakes many businesses make when integrating vertical clips into their digital marketing strategy.
By circumventing the pitfalls above, you’ll be able to elevate your brand using short-form content and avoid frustration along the way.