If you associate TikTok with one thing, it's probably short-form video content, 15-second videos.
But TikTok is now starting to promote using longer videos to grow its audience. To help achieve that, it won't be long until the TikTok algorithm starts to prioritize showing longer videos in-feed.
In July 2021, TikTok expanded the maximum length from 1-minute to 3-minute videos, but it's not stopping there.
Since then, the social media platform also introduced a wide-scale test of 5-minute videos. A select few users might even have seen TikTok's recent test of 10-minute videos (a new maximum video length) while scrolling through what's trending in your For You Page.
The video form content-focused app recently surpassed over 1 billion active users, and now it has leapfrogged even Snapchat and YouTube for total hours of content consumed on Android devices.
According to a report from App Annie in 2021, TikTok users watched 24 hours of content every month, while YouTube users consumed just 22 hours and 40 minutes.
As brands begin using TikTok, they need to be thinking about how the app is changing—and settling on the best TikTok video length is a crucial part of ensuring they stand out.
There are a few key reasons why longer videos are worth trying out.
TikTok has begun to promote longer videos to its users. While in June 2020, TikTok identified its optimal length as being between 11 and 17 seconds, by November 2021, it was recommended videos in the 21-to-34-second range.
Those numbers will likely keep ticking up as TikTok continues to push longer content. "Longer videos," of course, is relative. We are still only talking about 1-2-minute-long videos, not full-scale 15-20-minute YouTube videos.
It's important to remember that the average user isn't just consuming TikTok on smartphone apps anymore. TikTok is now a TV-first program.
At the end of 2021, TikTok released a TikTok TV app on many major smart TVs, including smart TVs from Amazon, Samsung, LG, and Android.
When watching on a home TV, viewers' attention spans are different. They're more attracted to longer videos than they are when they're on their phones.
Any product with a story behind its coming together will do well with a longer video. It's easy to see beauty brands, for instance, recreating some of the magic of a makeup tutorial or a 60-second video—maybe even a 2-minute video—about getting ready.
Food videos are viral on TikTok, but many users have one problem most creators try to keep their food videos short because they can become hard to follow.
To strategize your long-form video content, brands should look at how TikTok creators are doing it. TikTok recently highlighted the chef known as Salty Cocina, for instance, as an example of an influencer using a long-form video format effectively.
However, there are some things you should keep in mind before posting longer videos.
Most adept marketing teams say that the most important metric for TikTok success is not the content's total watch time—it's the percentage of each video that the average user watches.
In other words, marketers think they get more value out of TikToks with high completion rates, even if they are short videos.
ESPN, for instance, said in November 2021 that, among brands making longer videos, "I haven't seen it work exceedingly well for anyone."
To prove that point, few brands right now are making long-form TikTok videos. One of the few exceptions is the brand Black Rifle Coffee, which posts many new videos a minute in length and focuses on telling short narratives.
Another downside of longer videos, of course, is the cost. The longer your videos are, generally the more money you'll have to spend producing them.
And while the best branded TikTok videos should intentionally be low-budget to match the platform's predominant aesthetics, those costs can still add up.
For now, it's probably best to upload videos that are within the 21-to-34-seconds range that TikTok officially recommends, at least until it updates its guidance.
But it's important to keep in mind that there's a lot more space now for longer videos on TikTok than there was a year ago. Especially as more people start watching TikTok videos on their TVs, 1-2-minute videos might begin to go into vogue.
Before creating your first video to test TikTok's new time limits, here are some reminders for your video editor:
No matter what length you choose, when you post on TikTok, it's essential to be ready to engage directly with your viewers on the app.
TikTokers want brands to interact with them in the comments—including answering questions about new features, sizes, colors, and shipping details.
Chatdesk Teams is the only customer service company to integrate with TikTok comments, allowing you to respond to requests directly under each video. Schedule a demo to see how Chatdesk can boost your video marketing efforts on TikTok.