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Short Attention Span in a Swipeable World: Byte-Sized Joys of Life

Satisfying our short attention span is super important in today’s fast-moving digital world. With so much information bombarding us, people cannot seem to focus for long. We need content that can capture our interest quickly. Short-form video has emerged as a solution to this demand, revolutionising the way we consume and create content online.

Short-form videos burst onto the scene in 2013 with the debut of Vine, offering bite-sized entertainment that quickly captured the world’s attention. Vine’s success underscored a growing preference for concise, engaging content. Following Vine’s closure, TikTok emerged as a dominant force, satisfying the public’s appetite for short-form videos once more. Instagram and Snapchat soon followed suit with their “Reels” and “Spotlight” features respectively with Youtube joining the trend with “Shorts” in second half of 2020. These platforms we all know and love cater to the demand for quick, entertaining content, reflecting the evolving preferences of audiences with shrinking attention spans (some may even say we have shorter attention span than a goldfish).

Dr. Nia William, a lecturer and researcher at Bangor University specialising in children and adolescent mental health, elucidated why TikTok had gained such widespread popularity. She pointed out that “TikTok videos are short and sweet,” which is why our attention can easily shift from one to another. This mechanism contributes to addiction. When something brings us joy, it triggers the release of dopamine in our brains, driving us to seek more and more.

Furthermore, Dr. Williams highlighted the personalised algorithm on TikTok, which presents users with videos tailored to their interests.

Additionally, in a BBC interview, Gemma Briggs, a psychology lecturer at The Open University, challenged the notion of an “average attention span,” emphasising its task-dependent natures. Steve Joordens, a psychology professor at UTSC, echoed similar sentiments, asserting that attention span remains consistent across generations.

However, Joordens noted a shift in newer generations raised in what he terms as “ultra-distractible” world. He emphasises the importance of social connection in discussions about social media and attention. His research highlights how actions like laughter, smiling, and singing with others can release oxytocin, known as the love or trust hormone, counteracting stress hormones like cortisol.

Here are some key statistics underscoring the significance of short-form video content:

  • TikTok has emerged as the fastest-growing social media platform, amassing 1.53 BILLION users within a mere seven years.
  • 96% of consumers show a preference for short-form video when seeking information about a product or service.
  • Short-form video boasts the highest return on investment (ROI) and is hailed as the most effective format for lead generation and engagement.
  • Nearly one-third (33.3%) of all short-form videos are viewed up to 81% of their duration.
  • 47% of marketers acknowledge that short-form videos are more prone to going viral.
  • On average, adults in the United States dedicate 46 minutes daily to TikTok usage. Projections indicates that by 2024, this figure will rise to 48 minutes per day.

So, in short, yes, such videos can be useful for video marketing.

For effective results with your short-form video content, regular posting is key. You should aim to upload new videos daily, or at least on weekdays. This ensures a steady stream of content for the algorithm to select from and present to your target audience.

Find the Trend.

To create content that suits short-form video platforms, begin by dedicating time to consuming content on these platforms. Look out for recurring sound bites or songs, as they are likely part of a trend. Creators and brands often capitalise on these trends to increase their video’s reach. Moreover, if viewers recognise a trend in your video, they are more likely to watch it in its entirety

Hook the Audience.

On short-form video platforms, users tend to scroll rapidly from one video to the next. Consequently, it is effortless for viewers to overlook you video if it fails to captivate them instantly. To counteract this, begin with a hook. This can involve starting your recording with something visually striking or ensuring that your audio immediately grabs attention.

Whip Up Content That Hits the Sweet Spot.

Remember, you can use a trending sound byte or create an entirely original content but if your content is not relevant to your brand, it will not resonate with the preferences of your target audience.

The Magic Number 60.

TikTok has a 3 minutes limit to their videos but you should keep your videos to less than 60 seconds. Remember, we have short attention spans. You also can vary your approach on short-form video platforms. Mix it up by alternating between extremely short clips and videos lasting 30 to 60 seconds.

Just Keep Sharing.

For effective results with your short-form video content, regular posting is key. You should aim to upload new videos daily, or at least on weekdays. This ensures a steady stream of content for the algorithm to select from and present to your target audience.

Make Use of All Platforms.

You do not need to generate separate ideas for all short-form video platforms. While you may opt to post specific videos exclusively on one platform, you can effortlessly share your short-form content across all platforms (TikTok, Instagram Reels, Youtube Shorts etc.).

Never Go Horizontal.

Short-form video platforms are tailored for vertical viewing on mobile devices, While you can crop horizontal ones into a vertical format, it is best to record new short videos vertically to ensure optimal presentation. Posting a horizontal video on a vertical platform can make viewing less convenient for your audience and reduce its attractiveness on their screens.

Caption is King.

While the caption space on platforms like TikTok is restricted, it is still an invaluable tool for enhancing your video content. Make the most of it by providing extra content, including calls-to-action, offering additional information not covered in the video, and engaging your audience with prompts or questions. You can use caption to maximise the impact of your short-form videos.

In a world characterised by short attention spans, harnessing the power of short-form videos can greatly benefit brands seeking to promote their products or individual aspiring to establish a personal brand. By incorporating amazing visuals, concise messaging, and engaging stories, short-form videos have the potential to captivate audiences and leave a lasting impression. Implementing the strategies mentioned above allow creators to navigate the realm of short attention spans effectively. Ultimately, achieving success in their endeavours.


  • Evitts, J. (2022, September 4). Tiktok-addicted students delete app during exams. BBC News.
  • TLMUN Herald. (2023, May 24). The rise of short form content. Medium.
  • West, C. (2024, February 8). The ultimate guide to short-form video content. Influencer Marketing Hub.


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