Top 5 Do’s and Don’ts for Making ShortForm Videos

People on social media love video, especially short-form videos. LOVE IT. Don’t believe us? Here are some statistics:

  • 91% of Instagram viewers watch videos every single day
  • Tiktok is the second most-downloaded app, after Instagram
  • Users spend the most time on video-based apps: 
    • TikTok (95 minutes per day)
    • YouTube (74 minutes per day)
    • Instagram (51 minutes per day)
  • Short-form video is the #1 form of content that creates lead generation
  • Videos are shared at a rate of two times more than any post or photo or tweet
  • Short-form video has the highest return-on-investment for companies

Still on the fence about making videos? We understand–change is hard! But it’s a TikTok world, and everyone is now racing to keep up with it. 

digit-ALL Short Form Video Infographic

But what does “short-form” mean? Short-form video means:

  • Reels can be up to 90 seconds long
  • TikTok videos up to 3 minutes long
  • YouTube Shorts are 60 seconds long

What else do you need to know about short-form videos? How about Five Do’s and Don’ts for Creating a Short-Form video!

#1 - DO: Know What Viewers AND Platforms Expect to See in a Short-Form Video

Humans love seeing and hearing the familiar, especially on social media, where they can scroll for long periods of time in an almost hypnotic state as they entertain themselves. And the platforms love people scrolling for a long time!

So let’s talk about what viewers expect to see when looking at short-form videos:

  • A vertical video
  • Closed captioning. The majority of people have their sound off when they are on social media. Also, you want to make videos accessible for people who can’t process through sound alone. 
  • An informative video (a how-to, a tip, a review)
  • Or an inspirational video (a behind the scenes, a lesson you learned)
  • Or an entertaining video (a fun fact, playing around with a trending sound)

You will see those who post angry topics or information that comes across as misinformation. This is a spot you never want to be in as a business owner.

Some of the biggest things a platform wants to see in a short-form video is:

  • No TikTok watermarks on an Instagram video
  • On-screen text created in-app to help with ranking; this means use Instagram to create text for an Instagram video, and use TikTok or Capcut (which is owned by the parent company of TikTok) to create text for TikTok videos
  • A style that fits the platform; for instance, curated (filtered, aesthetically pleasing) videos work well on Instagram and unfiltered videos do well on TikTok 

#2 - DON'T Purely Make Videos That Sale Your Product - Unless Someone Else Is Selling It

Look above and note that you should make a video that informs, inspires, and/or entertains. There is nothing above about boring someone or hard-selling your product.

If you are a chocolate candy maker, show the process for making chocolate (informational and entertaining) or the day in the life of a candymaker (informational and entertaining and inspirational). But don’t stand there with a box of chocolates saying “These are great, buy them!”

Unless…you send those chocolates to someone you know who loves chocolates and would showcase them on their feed. Then it’s okay to let THEM sell your product. 

For instance, MamaTot (@shoelover99 on TikTok) is constantly showing off moonshine or pickles or candy boxes or dresses. Some of those are paid content, and some are just things she likes. But she comes off as genuine and people trust her opinions.

This is called User Generated Content (UGC), and it has a high return on investment, especially for the Gen Z crowd. UGC evokes emotion, honesty, and is budget-friendly.

#3 - DO: Make Sure to Use the Captions!

There is closed captioning (which you should always be using) as well as the place where you can add text under your video: the captions. Use that space! 

  • Instagram Reels and TikTok captions have a 2,200 character limit
  • YouTube Shorts captions have a 5,000 character limit

Many creators have been using their videos to tease at what they’re about to discuss without using the video to discuss it. 

Why? Because they use the captions below the video to not only help SEO, but to discuss their thoughts with bullets. 

Why? Because people take longer to read, and that video plays over and over again as you read the caption, racking up more views for the creator. Sneaky but effective!

#4 - DON'T Expect Instant Results

Going viral as someone who’s just starting out and learning something–like short-form video–has the same results as winning the lottery. It’s a nice, pie-in-the-sky prize, but it’s not a typical result based off of lots of hard work and willpower.

As you create videos, you may tell yourself, “The algorithm hates me!” The algorithm is a thing, however, not a person. Just like your washing machine doesn’t hate you, neither does the “machine learning” behind a social media platform. 

The most important thing to remember about any social platform’s algorithm: it pushes content in front of people that like similar content. So if you’re a cat food company, this means your short-form reel shouldn’t be about bags of cat food. No one is looking at bags of cat food on purpose! Instead, get your food brand in front of people who most likely have cats or will one day adopt a cat by, yes, showing videos of cats!! That’s what people are looking at. So give it to them!

In the long run, you want people to engage with your content because that pushes your videos in front of more people like them who want your cat food. This means you want comments and shares and saves–whatever makes the viewer CLICK a button to interact with your video. 

You also want a Call-to-Action, or a CTA. Don’t just go “Look at this funny cat video!” You want to say “Do you have a funny cat in your life too? Buy them our Salmon-Flavored Kibble Crunchies. They’re as good as they sound!!”

Again, though, you can’t control how people behave. But you can control what you do. So set goals along the way that are achievable and aligned to your marketing strategy. Some may include:

  • I plan to post three short-form videos per month on Instagram, and crosspost them on Facebook
  • All short-form videos will feature on-brand topics
  • I will use hashtags that will focus on my target market versus a random approach

#5 - DO: Remember Quality Followers Need On-Brand Videos and Hashtags

When it comes to followers who engage with you, it’s NOT important to have a high follower count (it is but it isn’t, but it shouldn’t be your first goal). It’s more important to have qualified followers who follow you for the reason you’re on social media, not because you had a one-hit dog video go viral but you sell insurance. Those 20,000 new followers want to see more dog videos, not insurance videos.

Talking about on-brand videos, make sure to be using hashtags that people follow who may also like your services. For instance, if you are a cat food manufacturer with funny cat videos, maybe hashtag your videos with #catstagram or #funnycats and other high-ranking hashtags people actually follow–because, again, are there a lot of people purposely following #catfood or #salmoncatfood?

Search is happening all the time on social media. In fact, younger people are turning to social media like TikTok and Instagram–not Google!–to search for products and services for at least 40% of their searches.

Homework for You

Now that you have some basics and some do’s and don’ts under your belt, here’s this week’s homework.

This week, we have a SMART goal for you regarding short-form videos (and feel free to use our past blog, “How to Create Short Form Videos for Instagram,” to help you out!):

  • Choose a day looking at TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts searching for videos you think people watch that would also watch your videos. (Are you a tax consultant, look at what people are watching to save money! Because no one–at least no one who will buy from you–is following #taxes when it’s not April.)
  • Save at least 10 videos in each app
  • See which format you’d like to try first from these 30 videos 
  • Write down what you’d need to do to make that happen (setting, sound, person(s), products)
  • Give yourself one week from the day you write this down to create it and post it

And remember, it does not need to be perfect!! It just needs to be done.

digit-ALL is a full-service marketing company that focuses on the people side of marketing. We focus on websites, social media, content creation, blogs, newsletters, and even corporate event planning. We’re here to help when you’re ready for it.


6 Short-Form Video Trends Marketers Should Watch in 2022, Martina Bretous,

7 Short-Form Video Mistakes to Avoid in Your Marketing Strategy, Hasan Saleem,

50+ Important TikTok Stats Marketers Need to Know in 2023, Stacey MacLachlan,

Get Started Creating YouTube Shorts,

How to Make Short-Form Videos That Stand Out, Hannah Macready,

Is Google Losing the Search War to Social Media Platforms?, Arman Ali,

Social Media Algorithms: A 2023 Guide for Every Network,Christina Newberry, Eileen Kwok, and Nick Martin,

The 11 Types of Short-Form Video You Can Leverage TODAY,

The Ultimate Guide to Short-Form Video Content, Werner Geyser,