An Introduction to Short-Form Videos

By Adam Turner • March 8, 2023

With over a billion monthly users, TikTok has reshaped the way consumers engage with social media, and association marketing teams are looking to dive head-first into this growing medium. Even as TikTok faces investigations from the Treasury Secretary and Chair of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. over parent company ByteDance’s connections to the Chinese government, it has irrevocably changed the social media landscape, particularly in the wide-scale adaptation of short-form video content, which is video that lasts less than 60 seconds.

Social media companies are constantly “stealing” features from each other, which can be seen all the way back to AOL Instant Messenger competing with companies like PowWow and Yahoo! Messenger. Nowadays, that same trend appears on platforms like Instagram and YouTube, which have both risen to match TikTok as platforms for short-form video content. As such, even if the U.S. government’s investigation into TikTok ends unfavorably for the app, the short-form video content it popularized will remain.

No matter an organization’s platform of choice, short-form video content can help them reach a larger audience across demographics, and while there is the negative perception that short-form video is primarily composed of silly dances, this is only a fraction of the content available on these sites.

Marketing experts divide short-form video content into different genres, and there are several styles of content that match the marketing goals of trade associations.

Behind the Scenes

To members, association operations are a mystery, and while they regularly see the results of the hard work performed by association staff, the work itself often goes unnoticed. Behind-the-scenes videos serve to fill in that gap and give members an inside look at their association’s day-to-day functions.

Market research shows that modern consumers value authenticity in a brand above all else, and this trend exists between an association’s staff and membership too. If members feel that their association is not being authentic to its mission, the organization will struggle to retain and recruit new members.

Behind-the-scenes videos take a proactive approach to transparency and pull back the curtain for those curious about their association’s inner workings. They give viewers a preview of good things to come and generate excitement around the video’s topic.

For example, an association might record short-form video of behind-the-scenes content while preparing for its Annual Conference. Staff should record and post throughout the planning process, including at planning meetings, conference setup and during the event. By documenting the conference planning process, members viewing the videos will develop deeper connections to the conference, and by the time the conference begins, they will be thoroughly invested in the event.

Explainer or Educational Videos

While many don’t think of TikTok as a platform for educational content, short-form video shows its potential time and time again through explainer videos. This style of short-form video is comprised of quick, easily digestible lessons.

In the association industry, explainer videos can act as a powerful recruitment tool to reach potential Gen-Z and Millennial members. Especially in hands-on industries like the trades, explainer videos demystify potential avenues of employment and give advice on how to succeed in training programs.

Explainer videos can also serve as a first stop for consumers looking for help with an issue. Associations and companies looking to establish themselves as reputable sources of information among customers can leverage short-form videos to build their reputation. A plumbing contractor may make an explainer video giving simple DIY solutions to try fixing household problems before calling a plumber, or a medical association could produce videos explaining how to stay healthy during flu season.

No matter the topic, explainer videos demonstrate a company or association’s expertise. And when that consumer needs help in the future, they will remember the organization’s expertise and will continue to utilize its resources.

Product Teasers

Whether an industry trying to promote its new slate of products or an association with supplier members, product teaser videos help spread the word among consumers about an organization’s latest innovations. Product teaser videos could even open an additional stream of non-dues revenue through sponsored posts, but associations taking this route need to be careful to follow Federal Trade Commission rules surrounding social media advertising.

Filming a product teaser doesn’t require a skilled videographer, and in most cases, using a phone’s camera and TikTok’s in-platform editor will suffice for video quality. To maximize a product teaser’s reach, it’s a good idea to use one of the sounds that are trending on the platform. TikTok, as well as YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels, tracks the most popular soundbites used in short-form content, and their algorithm is designed to promote videos that use these trending sounds.

By combining videography with trending audio, associations will have produced a high-energy video that demonstrates the effectiveness of a product and garners excitement from consumers.

An association looking to add streams of non-dues revenue can offer sponsored posts as part of their advertising bundles with supplier members or similar vendor partners. For a price, the association becomes an “influencer” in the industry as it disseminates a brand’s video to its members. These videos can even be produced by the partner and supplied to the association, eliminating work for the association’s marketing team. If an association decides to take the route of posting sponsored product teasers, it should consult FTC guidelines surrounding online advertising. Most of the time, the only additional requirement is adding a tag in the caption indicating the video is sponsored.

Getting Started

For anyone looking to implement short-form video marketing in their association, the first step is to watch TikToks, Shorts and Reels. This will give the marketer a sense of the cadence of short-form content, and even if the video is unrelated to the association’s field, it still provides a basic template for the structuring and quality needed for a successful video.

Once the marketing team has a sense of the type of short-form content they want to make, it’s time to actually produce the video. Small investments like a phone tripod can improve the quality of the video, but ultimately, all the team needs is a phone to record.

When the video is ready to upload, associations should take advantage of TikTok, YouTube and Instagram’s focus on short-form video by posting the same video on all three platforms. This allows the association to reach a wider audience – from the Gen Z users who make up TikTok’s base to the younger Millennials who primarily use YouTube.

Short-form video will play a vital role in marketing to future generations as social media, and associations must start incorporating it into their marketing strategy, or they will be faced with the possibility of losing relevance.

About The Author

Adam Turner is a Digital Content Strategist at Naylor Association Solutions. He works with client associations on member communications with a focus on digital platforms.