TikTok generated an estimated $4.6 billion in revenue in 2021, a 142% increase year-on-year
TikTok had 1.2 billion monthly active users in Q4 2021 and is expected to reach 1.8 billion by the end of 2022
TikTok was the most downloaded app in 2020 and 2021
Social media expert, Gary Vaynerchuk, called his shot when it came to TikTok, formally known as musical.ly, back in 2016:
As cell phones, tablets, and other devices are being owned and used at younger and younger ages, reaching this demographic is going to become increasingly influential. Technology is beginning to skew younger and apps that can successfully capture this demo’s attention are going to pop. […] It is democratizing content creation for young people by giving them the resources (i.e., filters, control over video speed, access to professional audio) to make fun and entertaining content.
The trend is clear.
As the user base for social media apps gets younger and younger, we will have the first generation of digital native adults who can’t even fathom a world where smartphones and social media didn’t exist.
This generation is used to getting the information they want and need at blinding speed. If you don’t capture their attention fast, they won’t pay attention to you.
The rise of TikTok paved the way for the rise of micro content. Short bits of entertaining, educational, and inspiring content are taking over the entire world.
Why is micro content taking over the world?
The most obvious answer is that people’s attention spans have gotten shorter over time.
We live in a society of speed and convenience. This trains people to get bored easily and constantly chase new sources of dopamine.
Why watch a 10-minute video when you can get the information or entertainment you want in 10 seconds? Why read a book to get the information you need when you can read a handful of Tweets?
Micro content is taking over the world because of the slot machine effect.
Slot machines are addicting due to variable reward systems. Each time you pull the lever, there’s a new chance to not only win but win in a unique way. Slot machines are designed to mostly give you near-misses—two kings in a row instead of the three to win—so you feel like you’re on the cusp of victory.
With social media, you can chase the perfect dopamine high by endlessly checking your phone for the most entertaining, inspiring, or useful piece of content. The slot machine effect was already at work with the invention of the smartphone and social media apps.
But, micro content platforms like TikTok took the concept of the slot-machine effect and put it on steroids. These platforms are driving users to consume shorter pieces of content much more rapidly and driving creators to make this content at a breakneck speed.
Let’s look at the different platforms you can use to create micro content and talk about the best ways to use them.
TikTok: The leader of the pack
TikTok is the company that started this short-form wave. TikTok is an app that allows you to post short videos to your page. There are tons of different styles of content that work on Tiktok. You can create how-to videos, make funny clips, do reviews for products, and more.
There’s a little bit of everything on TikTok.
That’s where the “For You” page comes in. When you first land on TikTok, you’ll just see random videos that might not have anything to do with your interests.
But over time, the platform will learn what you like based on the following:
The videos you “like”
The videos you watch all the way through
Also, the videos you breeze right past
Eventually, your “For You” page will be filled with short videos that are tailored to your interests. This is what makes TikTok so addicting—non-stop mini clips customized to your tastes.
As a user, you have three different feeds:
For You page: recommended videos based on TikTok’s algorithm
Following page: videos from accounts that you follow
Friends page: TikToks from friends (you follow them, and they follow you)
Your goal is to make it to the “For You” page of people in your target audience. You can do that by posting videos with the optimized hashtags and tagging your posts with #foryoupage and #foryou to give them a better chance to reach the “For You” page of your target audience.
Instagram used to just be a site for posting your favorite pictures. Now it has its own short-form feature to keep up with its competitors.
Instagram, owned by Facebook, is known for taking features from other products and adopting them. Some could argue they just stole them. Either way, this is a strategy that has paid off for them time and time again.
First, they adopted the Stories feature from Snapchat. Now they’re taking a page out of TikTok’s book with their Reels feature. Reels work just like TikToks. You can post a short video (no longer than 90 seconds) and use those videos to build your audience on Instagram.
Even if you have a small audience, you can post Reels that go viral. I’ve personally made Reels that have gained more than 5,000 views in mere minutes. But those numbers don’t come close to what other creators have achieved.
Some things to consider when shooting Reels
In this video, short-form video expert Robert Benjamin explains that the IG algorithm tracks the percentage of time people spend viewing your reels. You want to make that number as close to one hundred percent as possible. This means instead of using all 90 seconds for your Reels, give your audience the content they need and nothing more.
Try picture reels:Here’s an example. Creators are using this technique, posting text as a very short video, because with a two or three-second “video,” you’re almost guaranteed a 100 percent completion rate on your videos.
Focus on capturing attention fast. You want the opening lines of your reels to be shocking, polarizing, spark curiosity, and convince people to keep watching. You can preview your reels on your story, but the story preview only shows the first few seconds of the Reel, so make sure you’re using that space wisely.
Repurpose Tweets for Instagram
There’s a second short-form content technique that creators have been using to get views and build an audience on the platform.
They take popular tweets, repurpose them into images, and post them on Instagram. I use the tool TweetPik that does this for you automatically.
You can do a stand-alone post like this:
Or you can create a carousel by adding multiple pictures with text.
Platforms play copy-cat. Virtually all video platforms are putting a focus on short-form content. YouTube now has its own version of TikTok or Reels in the form of YouTube Shorts because apps like TikTok are eating into their user base.
YouTube shorts can be up to 60 seconds long. The rules for succeeding on YouTube shorts are similar to other short-form platforms like Reels and Tiktoks.
YouTube is also pushing these videos to help you get views fast, take advantage of network effects, and go viral with lots of organic reach to people who don’t follow you.
Some things to consider when shooting YouTube shorts
Thumbnails: Use bright, eye-catching, and easy-to-read thumbnails for YouTube Shorts. Thumbnails have always been one key to success on YouTube, and it’s no different with their shorts feature.
Captions: If you’re talking into the camera, use easy-to-read captions on your videos so viewers can follow along.
Pattern interruptions: You want to add elements to your videos to keep readers from getting bored and leaving. You can do things like adding picture pop-ups, sounds, b-roll footage, and unique captions to hold their attention.
If you want to practice short-form writing, Twitter is the place for you.
Instead of writing 2,000-word blog posts to build an audience, you can write 280-character Tweets. Twitter helps you clarify your thinking. Since you don’t have room to ramble, you must force yourself to distill the essence of your message into each post.
It’s also a great place for writers to test out their ideas.
Instead of spending hours brainstorming impactful ideas and writing a ton of blog posts, you can either write stand-alone tweets or threads to test your ideas out. You can take the ideas that get the most traction and expand on them in blog posts, email newsletters, or books.
If a tweet goes viral, you can reap the benefits of network effects:
A phenomenon whereby a product or service gains additional value as more people use it. “Instant messaging is a market with strong network effects.”
The first tweet in the thread got nearly 213,000 likes and 11,000 retweets.
That single thread generated tens of millions of impressions.
Many people compiled the ideas from the thread and turned them into blog posts, further spreading the ideas.
Others took those compilations and translated them into different languages.
That single thread created a ripple effect and quite literally spread Naval’s ideas around the world.
It’s unlikely you’ll hit this big of a home run early on, but if you give yourself time, Twitter can help you build an audience that starts to compound quickly.
Some things to consider when writing tweets
Use lists: You can create lists on Twitter, which are curated feeds of people you handpick, instead of the standard timeline where you see everything. Make lists of Twitter users you want to study and network with.
Try doing a thread at least once per week: Threads have the best chance of going viral. Also, at the end of threads, you can use a call to action to get readers to take the next step, like joining your email list.
Practice using hooks: Hooks are things like attention-grabbing opening sentences, catchy introductions to threads, and formatting techniques you can use to get people to pay attention to your tweets and threads.
Right now, LinkedIn still has great organic reach.
Organic reach is traffic you don’t have to pay for. Platforms go through cycles. In the beginning, they will promote your content heavily on their algorithm because they’re trying to get more people to use their platform.
There was a time on Facebook when you could write posts that would go viral and reach people who weren’t following you. Then, it switched to incentivizing people to pay for ads by reducing organic reach.
Maybe LinkedIn will pull a similar move, but for now, you can reach tons of people who aren’t your followers and turn them into fans for your brand.
Some things to consider when writing on LinkedIn
Tell stories: Telling stories about your life, the field you work in, or the things you’re interested in tend to work better on LinkedIn than just creating “how-to” content.
Play around with different formats: Since you don’t have the character limit of Twitter, you can expand on your ideas and create content that is short-form but not incredibly short. For example, you could write a 250-word mini-essay and publish it on your LinkedIn page.
Use video and images: It’s as simple as taking a reel you shot for Instagram and repurposing it to LinkedIn. You can use the photo carousels you created for Instagram and cross-post them to LinkedIn too.