Keep it Short – The Health Care Blog

By KIM BELLARD

OK, I admit it: I’m on Facebook. I still use Twitter – whoops, I mean X. I have an Instagram account but don’t think I’ve ever posted. Although I’ve written about TikTok numerous times, I’ve never actually been on it. And while I am on YouTube, it’s more for clips from movies or TV shows than for videos from creators like MrBeast.  

So forgive me if I’m only belated taking a look at the short form video revolution.

As is often the case, a couple articles related to the topic spurred my attention: Caroline Mimbs Nyce’s Twitter’s Demise Is About So Much More Than Elon Musk in The Atlantic, and Jessica Toonkel’s Wall Street Journal article Your Kid Prefers YouTube to Netflix. That’s a Problem for Netflix. I urge you to read both.

Ms. Nyce makes that point that, while Elon may be doing a pretty good job damaging Twitter, much of its woes really are due to microblogging falling out of favor. Her take:

In the era of TikTok, the act of posting your two cents in two sentences for strangers to consume is starting to feel more and more unnatural. The lasting social-media imprint of 2023 may not be the self-immolation of Twitter but rather that short-form videos—on TikTok, Instagram, and other platforms—have tightened their choke hold on the internet. Text posts as we’ve always known them just can’t keep up.

She notes that Twitter is still the dominant platform, by far, for microblogging, but quotes a prediction from data.ai: “While platforms like X are likely to maintain a core niche of users, the overall trends show consumers are swapping out text-based social networking apps for photo and video-first platforms.”

“Short-form videos have become an attention vortex,” Ms. Nyce reports, citing figures from Sensor Tower that users spend an average of 91 minutes daily on TikTok and 61 minutes on Instagram.  

Indeed, Insider Intelligence estimates that video’s share of average daily social media went over 50% in 2022, and will reach 60% by 2025. It predicts that the short video “craze” will cool, but admits: “platforms must contend with the reality that consumers still love short videos.”

Meanwhile. Ms. Toonkel quotes a father of a 8 year-old, who has stopped watching shows like Thomas and Friends: “Now, all he wants to do is watch gamers and basketball clips and highlights on YouTube.” She adds: “The Levy family learned what has become clear across the media industry: When it comes to children’s entertainment preferences, YouTube trumps all.”

She reports: “Netflix’s share of U.S. streaming viewership by 2- to 11-year-olds fell to 21% in September from 25% two years earlier, according to Nielsen. Meanwhile, YouTube’s share jumped to 33% from 29.4% over the same period.” Michael Hirsh, co-founder of WOW Unlimited Media, confirmed: “These viewers are watching on their iPads or on other platforms that have moved to shorter and shorter segments, and it’s a real issue for the streamers.”

Ms. Toonkel cities an animation studio that released one new children’s film on Roblox, and other that premiered on YouTube instead of a streaming service. In both cases, the streaming services were a secondary priority. “It’s really about following the consumer,” the studio’s global chief marketing officer told her.

Two weeks ago Pew Research issued a study directly on point: Teens, Social Media and Technology 2023. YouTube, to no one’s surprise, is the top platform for teens 13 to 17, with 93% using. TikTok (63%), Snapchat (60%), and Instagram (59%) followed. Facebook (33%) and Twitter (20%) are barely an afterthought.

Seventy-one percent of teen YouTube users go on daily, with 16% on “almost constantly.” For TikTok, the corresponding figures were 58% and 17%.

YouTube’s popularity isn’t just among teens, of course. The Social Shepherd compiled some fun YouTube facts, such as:

–It has some 2.7 billion monthly users, with 1.5b on YouTube Shorts;

–There are 122 million daily users;

–98% of US internet users are on YouTube monthly, 92% weekly, 62% daily;

–US children spend 77 minutes daily on YouTube;

–The aforementioned Mr Beast is YouTube’s biggest earner, raking in an estimated $82 million annually;

–70% of viewers have made a purchase after seeing the brand on YouTube.

Companies better be paying attention. Ms. Nyce warns: “In a recent survey by Sprout Social, a social-media-analytics tool, 41 percent of consumers said that they want brands to publish more 15- to 30-second videos more than they want any other style of social-media post. Just 10 percent wanted more text-only content.”

Digiday’s Krystal Scanlon believes: “The latest pivot toward video is in full swing, and unlike previous occasions, agencies must now master the art of short-form video rather than focusing solely on specific platforms.” She clarifies that not all platforms’ version of short form videos are the same, contrasting TikTok’s “short, engaging, creative videos” with YouTube Short’s “informational or tutorial-style videos.”

Her bottom line: “Simply put, the video content needs to be native to the platform, because consumers are fed up of seeing ads.” As TikTok said when introducing TikTok for Business, “Don’t Make Ads, Make TikToks.”

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Earlier this year Monigle released its Humanizing Brand Experience report. Among other things, it suggested a decline in consumers’ interest in “watching/reading about health and wellness topics,” and an increase in their distrust of healthcare providers.  Neither results are yet dismal, but they underscore that in a short form video world, even healthcare companies need to be rethinking their brand and content strategies.

Detailed web pages of health advice?  Who reads? Catchy TV ads? Who watches? Helpful videos with health information from respected physicians? Too long. Health is complicated, health care is idiosyncratic, so short form anything isn’t natural, but it may now be necessary.  

Those of us of a certain age may not quite understand or appreciate short form videos, but they’re not something we can ignore. Ms. Nyce’s closing thoughts are ominous:

Perhaps the biggest stress test for our short-form-video world has yet to come: the 2024 U.S. presidential election. Elections are where Twitter, and microblogging, have thrived. Meanwhile, in 2020, TikTok was much smaller than what it is now. Starting next year, its true reign might finally begin.

And, I might add, in a time of vaccine skepticism and rampant health misinformation, misleading/simplistic short forms videos pose an existential threat, unless countered by equally effective ones.

Time to up your short form video game, everyone.

Kim is a former emarketing exec at a major Blues plan, editor of the late & lamented Tincture.io, and now regular THCB contributor

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