From Reels To Shorts: How Leading Social Platforms are Following the Short-Form Video Trend

Updated: Jan 7


Remember in 2016 when Snapchat was one of the most popular social media platforms among young adults? Snapchat’s method of ten-second stories that only lasted a day was ideal for the short attention spans of Gen-Z. Other applications such as Vine, and the later eventually Tik Tok, challenged Snapchat’s ten-second story with several-second videos that showcase comedy, skits, and dancing. Instagram reflected the decrease in Gen-Z’s attention span. This was shown in the decrease of the information shown in Instagram posts, minimalist captions, and limited hashtag usage under posts.

Today, it is common for Gen-Z to quickly scroll through their social media feeds without barely glancing at an image. Apps that were intimidated by the rapidly increasing popularity of Tik Tok are beginning to follow their formula of short-form videos. Instagram, Youtube, and Reddit now have sections dedicated to this digital space. Yet, what is it that makes short-form video more appealing than traditional advertising and marketing methods? In addition, how is this form of video content changing the future of technology and the digital space?

What makes a video short form?

Short-form videos are usually around ten seconds to a minute long. These videos are short enough to keep the audience’s attention while also getting their message across in a straightforward way.

68% of people are satisfied with videos that are under a minute long

49% of business videos are less than 60 seconds long

21.8% sales increase in selfie ring lights for use in short-form videos

Joining the Short-Form Video Space

Over the past year, more apps have been trying to implement short-form videos into their digital space. These apps have started to advertise using this video format in their commercial ads as well as on social media. Apps are adjusting their layout and methodology to dedicate a section of their platform to short-form videos.

Instagram Reels

In August of 2020, Instagram introduced “Instagram Reels” to their platform. Reels function in a similar fashion to the well-known app Tik Tok, Reels encourages users to edit, filter, and add audio over video clips into 15 second long videos. Instagram has evolved its platform to incorporated its Reels feature into many areas of the application. The Reels function is almost identical to Tik Tok. They are so similar, users can mistake the two platforms or not remember which one they were initially scrolling on.

YouTube Shorts

About a month after Instagram had announced their Reels, YouTube unveiled plans of short-form videos in their website and application. Though not formatted the same way as modern-day short-form videos. The first video ever posted on Youtube was a short-form video. This now-viral video, “Me at the zoo” (2005), is only 18 seconds long. Youtube Shorts has now made space in its platform to showcase an identical format as Instagram and Tik Tok. Youtube Shorts allow users to record videos along with a multi-segmented camera, speed controls, and the option to record with music.

Facebook Reels

In hopes to attract the Gen-Z audience, Facebook revealed they are in the process of testing a new feature titled “Reels” as well. Earlier this year, Facebook had discussed plans of sharing existing Instagram Reels to their news feed. This dedicated section to short-form videos does not shy away from re-using their Instagram function. It appears that the project is still in testing, however, it is no doubt that this feature was heavily inspired by the increasing short-form video trend.

The future of short-form videos seems bright as it becomes increasingly relevant to social media and technology. This type of feature may cause apps to evolve and shift their platforms to more creative methods of user interaction.


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