When TikTok took off in 2020 — with short dance clips or comedy clips providing much-needed entertainment for many users at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic — it set off a short-form video arms race.
Suddenly, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and other social platforms were rushing to roll out similar products, encouraging users to create videos up to one minute long that would be displayed vertically, in a scrolling feed with endless recommendations for what to watch next. Those other platforms spent the following years trying to catch up to TikTok’s popularity, especially among the important teen demographic.
But now, the leading short-form video company is changing course and pushing users to create and consume longer videos. On Saturday, TikTok will officially ditch its original “Creator Box,” and creators who want to monetize their content will have to join a new “Creativity Program beta,” under which they will have to create videos longer than one minute if They want to get paid through the app.
TikTok’s shift to longer-form content is in some ways a reversal of fortunes — it now follows its legacy peers into an often more profitable content format. The strategy could also encourage users to spend more time using an app that some teens say they use “almost constantly.”
But some TikTok creators are frustrated with the move, worrying that it will diminish what initially made TikTok so popular: the ability to quickly scroll through lots of different types of content, and for almost anyone to be able to easily create videos without extensive planning or resources. .
“I don’t always have a minute of content,” said Nicki Apostolou, a TikTok creator with nearly 150,000 followers known as “recycldstardust,” who creates content about Native American history and culture on the app.
“I feel like there are a lot of creators who came to TikTok because it was a short video app, and now they want to be like a ‘mini YouTube,’ and I feel like it’s excluding creators,” she said. Who came there for the short content.
TikTok spokesman Zachary Keizer said in a statement that the company developed the new creativity program “based on the lessons learned and feedback we gained from the previous Creator Fund.” As we continue to develop new ways to reward creators and enrich the TikTok experience, we value direct feedback and insights from our community to help inform our decisions.
“The short video model was really useful when TikTok first launched, as they could get people very quickly onto the platform, and it’s constantly scrolling and going fast,” said Christine Stein, a critical media studies scholar and doctoral candidate at the university. illinois chicago.
“I think TikTok is now (thinking): ‘We need to show (advertisers) that we can keep people on one video longer,’” Stein said. “But I’m interested to see how viewers respond because what kept them on the app was that the videos were short.”
Over the past three years, TikTok has steadily rolled out the ability to post longer videos on the app, increasing the time limit from one minute to three-, five-minute, and eventually 10-minute videos. The platform is now testing 15-minute uploads, although they are not widely available.
Last month, the platform informed creators that it would close its Creator Fund in the US, UK, France and Germany, leaving them no choice but to join the new creativity program if they wanted to continue getting paid by TikTok for their work. content.
Under the new program, adult creators with 10,000 or more followers can get paid from the app for videos longer than one minute that meet a number of other criteria.
TikTok promoted the program to creators by highlighting this Videos longer than one minute encourage viewers to spend more time on their content and “build trust… through more communication, information and educational content,” according to a recent blog post from the company.
TikTok also said that creators should expect to get more money per video under its new creativity program. Some creators have already posted about making thousands of dollars in their first months on the program.
One creator, known as “Justine’s Camera Roll,” said in a video posted in October about the program that the pay was “a lot of money for something I was doing for free.”
For the company, pushing longer content may be a good business decision.
“It’s a lot easier to monetize content when it’s long-form… There’s more potential with ads and monetization,” including ads that run before or during videos, said Scott Kessler, technology sector leader at research firm Third Bridge.
Consumers are also more likely to watch a pre-roll ad for a video longer than one minute than a video of roughly the same length as the same ad.
TikTok has also long been a place where creators can use short clips, combined with the platform’s powerful discovery algorithm, to direct viewers to their longer content on other sites like YouTube.
“I think what they want to do is be able to say, ‘Hey creators, you can put the full video here, not just the first 30 seconds,’” Kessler said.
However, some creators say they joined TikTok — rather than YouTube or other platforms — specifically because they wanted to create short-form content, and that the changes may make it harder for them to make a living from the app in their chosen format.
Ali Tabizon said monetizing her TikTok videos has “changed her life” since she started using the app four years ago, allowing her to cut back on her work hours and spend more time with her son. Her astrology videos are often less than 10 seconds.
With the new creativity program, she and some of the creatives were hesitant about the changes.
“I’m really scared because I’m watching hundreds of videos on YouTube of people working on TikTok and posting about new algorithms, and I’m trying to stay on top of everything, and from what I’ve learned…the attention span today’s generation is about eight to 10 Seconds,” Tabizon told CNN last month. “Even me, when I see a one-minute video, if it’s not someone I’ve been following for a while, I’ll probably skip it.”
That could mean having to work harder to come up with longer-form content that her 1.2 million followers and others want to watch. However, Tabizon has begun testing more videos longer than one minute, and she said of the new program: “If the pay was more, I think it would be worth it.”
TikTok says creators who make longer-form content have on average doubled the money they earn in the past year. The company also says it recommends longer videos in the same way it recommends short ones, based on user preferences rather than video length.
Creating long-form, entertaining videos may require more resources, which not all creators have, said Laura Riegle, a TikTok creator known on the app as “laurawiththecurls.”
Riegle has amassed nearly 120,000 followers on the app since 2020 with short, fun videos showcasing everything from hair care tips to trendy dances and styling experiments. she Even when creating relatively simple “storytime” videos, where you sit and talk to the camera, creating videos longer than a minute means investing a lot of time and effort, she said.
“You have to cut things up, and sometimes you re-record the same thing a few times and then you have to put things together,” Riegel said. “Long-form content definitely takes up more time and that makes it more difficult for someone like me because I already work full-time and have a family…so I don’t have a lot of free time.”.”
TikTok also offers ways for creators to earn money from their videos beyond the app’s monetization box, such as subscriptions or “tips” from followers. The company says user earnings across all of the platform’s monetization features have nearly doubled over the past year.
But some creators are skeptical about these alternative payment options. “Do you know what it’s like? Singing in the street,” Apostolou said. “I don’t find those things sustainable and I feel weird asking my fans (for payment).”