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TikTok Vs. YouTube: Is TikTok Finally Shifting Its Preferred Content Type?

Feb 14, 2024

Social Media Platforms

TikTok Vs. YouTube: Is TikTok Finally Shifting Its Preferred Content Type?

Since bursting onto the scene in 2020, TikTok has proved to be ‘that girl’ with its bite-sized, entertaining videos for quick consumption. Noticing the masses flocking, platforms like Instagram and YouTube began switching things up in order to compete and win their audiences back. Reels and YouTube Shorts became the dominant content form on these platforms, all while TikTok videos continued to reign supreme. 

But fast forward 4 years and it seems the tides have turned. Abandoning its roots, TikTok is now switching things up to compete with long-form giant, YouTube, and with the platform now starting to incentivise those who publish horizontal videos, it seems the TikTok vs. YouTube competition is finally in full swing. 

@evhandd

TikTok just made a MASSIVE change to the algorithm, promising boosted views to anyone who posts videos over a minute long in landscape mode #longervideos #tiktokalgorithm #contentcreationtips #contentcreator #sturdydigital

♬ original sound – Evan

We’re always ready to support growth and change, but how does TikTok’s shift in its preferred content type affect creators and users on the platform going forward? Will the shift to long-form content be permanent and force the masses to flock elsewhere?

Read on as we conduct a deeper dive into the YouTube-isation of the world’s most-beloved short-form content platform and how this shift is set to change the digital landscape for good.

TIKTOK VS. YOUTUBE: THE UNENDING FEUD

The YouTube-isation of TikTok is nothing new. In fact, its journey towards increasing long-form content circulation began just one year after the platform took the socialsphere by storm in 2020, as it upped its video length to 3 minutes. It has since expanded to 10 minutes in 2022 and is now testing 30 minute-long videos as of January 2024. 

Nowadays, long-form content on TikTok is now continuously incentivised, earning creators extra views, revenue and guaranteed boosting privileges if adhered to. But what can long-form content do that short-form can’t?

Turning our attention to YouTube gives us all the answers we need.

In short, long-form content builds connections, establishes online communities, and resonates more with consumers. Videos that are longer in length also open up numerous opportunities for monetisation, an aspect that all platforms alike are striving to nail, making YouTube the go-to platform for marketers. Or so you’d think. Despite boasting a breadth of opportunities with its reign over long-form content on the internet, TikTok somehow still proved to be the star of the zeitgeist, forcing YouTube to switch strategies. And so YouTube Shorts was born.

The launch of YouTube Shorts meant that the TikTok vs.YouTube debate finally saw the two meet in the middle for the first time, with YouTube chasing TikTok’s audience and TikTok changing its services to mirror those of YouTube. What we’re now seeing is TikTok dominating the TikTok vs. YouTube discourse with its frequent in-app changes that are becoming more and more likened to YouTube’s winning features. 

But have these changes been welcomed with open arms by the TikTok community? If not, where is the reluctance to welcome change rooted? 

WHAT DOES LONG-FORM CONTENT ON TIKTOK MEAN FOR ITS COMMUNITY?

TikTok creators 

Upon its announcement in January to start rolling out horizontal videos, TikTok also pledged to incentivise the creators who begin posting landscape content with a guaranteed viewership boost, provided they have been posting on TikTok for more than 3 months. Other account/content requirements can be found below.

TikTok vs. YouTube

However, while some creators have taken a shine to the new feature rollout, there is an overarching sense of frustration from others who worry that it will take away from what initially made TikTok so popular; which is the ability to quickly scroll through lots of different kinds of content and for nearly anyone to make TikTok videos without extensive planning or resources. After all, TikTok’s ease of use and accessibility to all is what sets it apart from YouTube. If TikTok goes the full mile to change up its content, what USP will remain?

Comments from several established TikTok creators include, “I don’t always have a minute of content in me”, “now they want to be like ‘mini YouTube’ […] it leaves out creators who came for the short-form content”,and “long-form content […] is difficult for someone like me because I already work full-time, I have a family…so I don’t have a lot of free time”. 

The general consensus is that this gradual move to long-form content is shrouded in worry, particularly for the future of those who’ve earned their success through short-form content creation on the platform. 

Brands on TikTok

In camp two, we have the embracers of TikTok’s new long-form content strategy. The bottom line is that it’s a lot easier to monetise content when it’s in a longer form, making the YouTube-isation of TikTok more receptive to monetisation and ad opportunities. 

Consumers are also more likely to sit through a pre-roll ad for a video longer than one minute than a video that’s nearly the same length as the ad itself. 

But for these opportunities to come to fruition, and drive the shift to long-form content, creators need to back it too. After all, it’s their creativity and expertise that will be leveraged to bring these ideas to life. 

TikTok users

A Wired TikTok survey found that users felt videos longer than one minute were stressful. This indicates that shorter videos perform best among the TikTok community. 

The reality is that attention spans are shorter now thanks to ‘TikTok brain’ decreasing them from 12 to 8 seconds. That is, regrettably, less than that of a goldfish. But TikTok users aren’t all to blame for these fishy statistics. It turns out that short-form content releases dopamine in the brain, helping develop a vicious cycle of doom-scrolling. 

So why is it now that TikTok wants to shift its focus from this addictive short-form content to 30-minute videos? Can it really succeed at keeping us focused on one-minute-plus videos when it’s the exact reason our attention spans have been plummeting?

WILL TIKTOK SUCCEED?

Within the TikTok vs. YouTube debate, there can only be one winner. 

A multitude of factors currently suggest that long-form content on TikTok has a long way to go before it’s widely accepted by its community. Decreased attention spans from users and worries over resources and time from creators are testament to the fact that the YouTube-isation of TikTok should remain on hold. The introduction of features like YouTube TV also continue to prove that YouTube remains dominant when serving online users their preferred long-form content. Despite TikTok releasing its TV app on certain smart TVs, it still needs to up the ante if it wishes to compete with the 120 million people who watch YouTube on their TV screens each month.

Having said that, it seems highly unlikely that TikTok will relinquish its efforts to embed long-form content options into its repertoire. The speedy introduction of longer video lengths and horizontal capabilities is just the start and users and creators should now be on the lookout for its next feature rollout arriving sooner than we think. 

Our influencer marketing agency and social agency are located worldwide, with our agency network based in the USA, UK, UAE and China.

If you want to find industry insights, visit our influencer marketing and social media blogs.

@ Socially Powerful

Author

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Ella Proctor

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