Published on December 6th, 2020 | by Guest0
TikTok Videos May Be About To Get Longer
We’re almost in 2021, and TikTok is still available in the United States of America and Europe. Three months ago, that seemed highly unlikely. The Chinese-made app is not a favorite of the Donald Trump administration, and the President has made many threats in the past about banning it, forcing it to be sold, or otherwise forcibly evicting it from US territory. With Trump having lost the November US Presidential Election, that threat appears to have gone away. Faced with a new reality in which it gets to carry on trading with the rest of the world, TikTok and its executives have been considering their next big move – and it looks like it’s going to be long-form video.
When it was brand new, the central appeal of TikTok was its short-video format, managing to succeed with the same idea that Vine failed with many years before. More recently, it’s become a victim of its own success. Having seen how successful TikTok has been, other companies have attempted to imitate its format. That’s where the new(ish) “Reels” feature on Instagram comes from. Despite its gambling-orientated name, “Reels” has nothing to do with UK slots. It might be true that its parent company Facebook is involved in online slots, but that has no bearing on Instagram’s latest feature. “Reels” is, to all intents and purposes, a TikTok clone. Facebook will be hoping that it performs much better for them than their attempt to break into the online slots market has thus far.
TikTok vs. Facebook
To say that TikTok hasn’t been thrilled about Facebook blatantly barging in on their territory would be an understatement – and it isn’t the first time it’s happened. “Reels” is actually Facebook’s second attempt at defeating TikTok by cloning their service. The first was a standalone app called “Lasso,” which was quietly mothballed last year after failing to find an audience. When the company announced that it was trying again with “Reels,” TikTok was so offended that it put out a statement accusing Facebook of being a ‘copycat,’ and also of participating in the US government’s attempts to get them to shut down. It appears that they decided to back up their angry words with action. TikTok has accepted that other entities are going to continue trying to steal a march on the short-form video market – and so they’re branching out with something new.
At the moment, the maximum length for a video on TikTok is sixty seconds. There’s nothing to stop you from immediately starting a new video when your first one ends, but sixty seconds is all you have for a single broadcast. It’s this bite-size, easy-to-share format that’s made the platform so popular with young people in particular. According to numerous reports that have made their way onto the internet and first-hand comments from creators, that maximum video length is about to treble. It’s understood that a select number of high-profile creators have already been selected for ‘early access’ to three-minute-long videos, so you might even start to see them appearing on the app by the time you read this. You won’t be able to make them yourself unless you happen to have a very high-profile account, but some of your favorite creators might already have uploaded several.
Predictably, not everybody is happy with the prospect of such a dramatic change. The sixty-second limit is what attracted a lot of people to TikTok in the first place because it’s less demanding on a viewer’s attention span and allows for a lot of content to be viewed and consumed in a short space of time. With the limit expanded to three minutes, the fear is that TikTok will suddenly be flooded with full-length movie trailers and other commercials. Some commentators believe that’s what YouTube is for, and so expanding the time limit reduces the distinction between TikTok and YouTube. Those with longer memories have pointed out that YouTube itself used to be constrained by a ten-minute video limit, and so if this is a step in YouTube’s direction, it’s a step toward classic YouTube rather than the unlimited-length streaming platform it’s become today.
How will it affect TikTok users?
As the change rolls out across TikTok, there will inevitably be some users who threaten to leave, delete the app, and never come back. A small number of them will actually mean it and stick to it. Most of the rest will be back within a week. The controversy reminds us of when, many years ago, Twitter announced that it was doubling the character limit of Tweets. Very similar opinions were expressed at the time by people who felt that very short Tweets were what Twitter was for, and that longer-form messages would make the social media app too much like Facebook. Today, we wonder how we managed to get our point and a hashtag across in the same message with so little space to work with. We suspect that people will adapt to this new era for TikTok, and in time they’ll come to embrace it.
This change likely wouldn’t have happened if Facebook and others hadn’t infringed upon TikTok’s territory. When other companies attempt to mimic, replicate, or otherwise challenge your USP, the only option you have (if you’re not able to sue them) is to try to find a new USP. This may or may not be a great idea from TikTok, but there’s only one way to find out. If it fails, we’re sure they’ll go back to the drawing board and come up with something different for 2021. Even being able to make plans for 2021 is a bonus for them at the moment – as recently as four weeks ago, they would have been worrying about whether the app could survive if it lost access to its millions of users across the USA and Europe. TikTok has survived a challenging 2020, and now it’s looking to evolve. Three-minute long videos may or may not be its final form, but they’re coming, and they’re probably going to be here to stay. If you’re a TikTok creator, try to look at it as an opportunity. Your followers already love you, and nos you can give them even more of you in one go!