2021 Marketing Trends Part 2: Short Video Reigns

Summary: This week, we’re talking short-form video and its current reign over content marketing and, well, the internet in general.

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When asked how they’d most like to learn about a product or service, two-thirds of people said they’d prefer to watch a short video.

Over the coming weeks we’re diving into the five marketing trends our team is paying attention to at the onset of 2021, offering you context, guidance and insight into each one.

Last time, we talked about the slowly crumbling third-party cookie and how its disappearance will affect advertisers and websites in the coming year. This week, we’re talking short-form video and its current reign over content marketing and, well, the internet in general. 


Short-Form Video’s Rise

Much has been made of Tik-Tok’s success. The app become one of the world’s most popular social platforms in the space of just a few years, surpassing 1 billion downloads at the start of 2021. And it’s not just Tik-Tok. With the platform’s success have come many copycats and competitors, all of which are built on the popularity of short-form videos.

Before you write this trend off, it’s more than Zoomers making dance videos to share with friends and the big brands who are sponsoring them. When asked how they’d most like to learn about a product or service, two-thirds of people (66%) said they’d prefer to watch a short video, according to Wyzowl. Short-form video content is how people in 2021 learn about new things, connect with their community, and, important for all advertisers and business owners, discover new brands, products and services.

The big platforms know this and are increasingly making their videos and livestreams shoppable, allowing businesses to make a sale directly from a video. Tik-Tok started testing shoppable livestreams with Wal-Mart in 2020, and Instagram Reels videos became fully shoppable in December 2020.

Whatever your industry, audience or preferred platform, short videos (generally defined as under 1 minute) offer an opportunity to connect with and delight your audience, sell your product and get leads into your funnel in 2021.

The Top Platforms

Below are a few of the most popular platforms for short video content at the start of 2021. All of these platforms prize authenticity, content and substance over slick production values. This is good news for small businesses who want to wade in to the waters. You don’t need a full production team to get started, just a point of view and something to talk about.

Before we dive into the top social platforms, a quick note: Don’t forget about your own channels, places like websites, landing pages and product pages, where short video content can help close a sale or convert a lead. In a recent study, 73 percent of people said they more likely to buy an item after watching a video explaining the product.


If you haven’t heard of Tik-Tok, you’ve likely been living under a rock for the last year. It was everywhere in 2020, with countless viral videos on everything from cranberry juice to that coworker you love to hate. The key for brands is to find an authentic way to contribute content to the platform, or to partner with content creators who feel like a natural fit. It’s easy to jump on the Tik-Tok bandwagon without understanding its Gen-Z audience and ending up with a cringe-worthy moment.

Brand Doing It Well: Chipotle

Chipotle has done of an excellent job of finding partnerships with Tik-Tok content creators that make sense for their brand. They’re account feels relevant and authentic to the Tik-Tok audience.

Instagram Reels

Instagram Reels, which allows users to create 15-30 second videos set to music, was released in 2020 to compete directly with Tik-Tok. Initially, Reels looks to be a success, particularly with brands. The NBA was among the first brands to jump in. They reported 22% higher engagement from their IG Reels videos than from other video content they posted to the platform.

Brand Doing It Well: Sephora

Sephora uses IG Reels to post make-up and product tutorials and quick before and afters. The videos are short and not highly produced, but wildly popular. They’re a great example of how to use short video without a huge investment of time and equipment.


YouTube, of course, is an ideal place for short video content. A good way to wade into the YouTube waters is to produce product videos that highlight a particular product, service or line. These have a simple set up and production, and you are guaranteed to be the expert on your product line. They can also be easily repurposed for use on your website.

Brand Doing it Well: Home Depot

Home Depot does a great job spotlighting key products and lines in short explainer and how-to videos. They then repurpose these videos on the Home Depot website, turning it into a content-rich experience that customers can browse and explore.

How to Get Started

  1. Choose a platform based on your audience. With the boom in video sites, it’s impossible to be successful on all of them. Pick one or two based on your audience and product and spend time really getting to know the audience and the visual style. What are users looking for, what are the most popular videos on it, how you fill a niche?
  2. Customize your content to the platform. What works on Tik-Tok likely won’t on Instagram Reels or Facebook.
  3. Seek out partnership. Look for potential content partners or influencers on your chosen platforms. Content collaborations are often a good way to get started with minimal production needed from you.


Do you produce short-form video for your brand or business? We’d love to hear how you use it. Share in comments or on our social channels. In the coming weeks, we’ll share more about our next 2021 trend: visual search.

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