Guide: Acing short-form videos – how brands leverage snackable marketing

short from videos

Short-form videos have turned out to be more than just a fad, and the enthusiasm in this hub of trends can be used to elevate brand equity and form a candid relationship with consumers – from a quick guide on short-form videos for marketing to how brands use this format on a tactical level, here’s all you need to know.

The guide includes creative best practices for short-form videos, expert insights on Shorts and Reels, and campaigns leveraging this format.

Reels, YouTube Shorts, or any other short-form video format designed to encourage creative creation of content while giving the reins of control to consumers – who can now create videos at their convenience and discretion. Algorithms too are seeing prioritizing short-form video formats off late – this however could be attributed to platforms pushing the use of these formats further.

The Significance Of Instagram Reels & YouTube Shorts

After short-format multi-segmented videos were fairly popularized by TikTok, the short video space was up for grabs by a dominator, and Instagram was one of the platforms that seized the opportunity and began a launch in the beta phase in India followed by a full-scale rollout, after first testing it in Brazil, France, and Germany.

Meanwhile, YouTube also launched Shorts, the short-form video tool for users to directly create and share catchy videos on the platform using their mobile phones. The YouTube team built the product across three key areas: Create, Get discovered, and Watch.

The maximum length of recording was 15 seconds at the time of the launch and has now been increased to up to 60 seconds on both platforms. Creators are able to use the multi-segment camera to stitch multiple video clips together, overlay music in these videos, and control the speed of the visuals.

While the short-form video ecosystem has witnessed players like Instagram, there are over ten homegrown short video apps such as Roposo, Josh, Vigo Video, and more, and platforms such as Moj that has grown to 120+ Mn monthly active users within the span of a year, and generates 90+ Bn monthly video views.

Instagram Reels

With features such as shoppable tags, Remix, Insights that shows metrics including Plays, Accounts Reached, Likes, Comments, Saves, and Shares, along with the full-screen vertical Reels Ads, brands and advertisers can create campaigns and measure results on the platform itself.

Remarking the potential of Reels, Varsha Ojha, Vice President & National Head, Brand & Digital Marketing and Corporate Communications at Radio City & Mid-day, shares, “Reels is one of the most actively consumed contents in the world. It has the ability to make a song popular, use the current or hyperlocal trends to create content fostering enhanced involvement and participation”.

Reels are distinctively for content discovery and finding newer content, here Instagram factors the relevancy of the content the user is shown and how users with similar interests have engaged with these posts. As Reels also focuses on trending content, how fast the popularity of a Reel grows is a major factor, which means if a Reel is being widely shared and engaged with as soon as it is posted, the probability of it reaching more users is higher.

Instagram also mentions it avoids showing political content on Reels, to keep the content fun and engaging, although such Reels can be directly seen on places like the user’s profile. Tabs that enable the discovery of new content also rely on assumptions made by the platform, in such cases certain guidelines are followed to avoid certain types of sensitive content.

Creative Best Practices For Reels

There are certain indicators that help Instagram decide to recommend a Reel or not. The platform determines to show users a Reel if the user will likely watch it till the end, like, comment, or engage with it, or go to the audio page and make their own Reel.

Low-resolution, watermarked reels that focus on political issues or are made by political figures, parties, or government officials on their behalf are signals that will make Instagram avoid recommending a Reel.

Reels the viewer liked, commented, or engaged with recently, history of interacting with the person who posted, the audio track used, video pixels, and whole frames, along with popularity, are signals used by the platform to recommend Reels.

Arun Srinivas, Director – Global Business Group, Facebook India, states that diverse, vernacular, and regional content is the current driver of Reels in India, and people adopting digital presently are inclined towards this kind of content.

YouTube Shorts

The expanded music library of Shorts available for commercial use with appropriate licenses and permissions, Green Screen mode can be used to devise a photo from the Gallery to be used as a background for Shorts or serve the purpose of a real green screen background, differentiating the subject with a replaceable backdrop. The functionality to sample audio from other videos or Shorts on the platform, along with a 100 Mn USD fund to be distributed to creators in 2021 and 2022, who garner the highest engagement and views on YouTube Shorts, all makeup for streamlined creation.

Remarking the potential of Shorts, when it was first launched in the country, Siddharth Khanna, Co-Founder & CEO, Brand Visage Communications mentions, “YouTube comes with a huge built-in audience, which will make the early adoption of Shorts easy. Shorts will be another way to keep people on the platform longer and get both existing and new creators to continue uploading,” he tells us, adding that while there will be challenges, Shorts presently seems to be among the top contenders to replace TikTok.

Also Read: Gaming community & untapped marketing opportunities: The India chapter

Views are calculated for Shorts in the same ways as regular videos, and they also contribute channel-level view count and don’t get filtered out in any way through this metric. Creators can see the view count from Shorts through the ‘Traffic Source’ type card on the ‘Reach’ tab of YouTube Analytics (besides suggested videos, etc). They can also go to advanced analytics for the same information, click on traffic source types, to view the row of Shorts.

Presently, typical performance indicators are disabled for Shorts as it is a new format, and length, discovery, and more of such factors defining the performance of a video are different from regular videos.

Creative Best Practices For Shorts

A set structure for videos such as hook, climax, and resolution, would help to break the time barrier. But it is imporrtant this structure is relevant to current trends and events for it to be relatable.

It is significant to hook the audience in the first few seconds as the next best video to spend 15 seconds on is a scroll away. Tonality of Shorts ranges from melodramatic sentiments, absurd humor to subtle expressions, so brands and creators have varied ways to hook the viewers.

YouTube also mentions bold visuals, fun tracks, dosruptive editing, sharing one’s unique skills auch as dance numbers, facial expressions and more of these elments combined can cultivate a creative strategy.

Snackable Marketing

Constant upheaval is the generic nature of short-lived trends in short videos space. Entertaining or educational content, behind the scenes clips, announcements, challenges, unfiltered moments such as behind the scenes of video content, customer testimonials, or the story behind the brand such as humble beginnings of starting off from a garage that the consumers can relate their own struggle with, and the other accustomed templates that offer a dash of eccentricity – can be shared through short-form videos.

Here are a few examples of marketing campaigns that have leveraged short-form video content.

#SpotifyWaliHoli – Spotify India

Spotify partnered with Instagram to promote their Holi special playlist through 40+ celebrities such as Sara Ali Khan, and Varun Dhawan, along with creators, communicating to their audiences through Reels and adding a CTA to encourage them to create their own.

The campaign generated 60 Mn views collectively and the ‘Holi Ke Rang’ playlist ranked among the top three most consumed playlists on Spotify for the week.

#SpotifyWaliHoli – Sara Ali Khan

Content Extension – Netflix India

Netflix India utilizes its OTT content library and extends themes from popular series and movies to Reels. These themes incorporated include comedic sketches from famous scenes, dance challenges from songs of new releases, make-up tutorials from fashionable looks of characters, and more.

Along with promoting their slate of new releases and available VOD content to drive viewers from the social platform to the OTT platform, such as showcasing clips of movies and releasing content themed around popular series or films. The brand has also been able to cater to multiple touchpoints such as creating relatability, encouraging user-generated content, and consequentially increasing brand equity.

Clips Ft. Barfi

Wing It Ft. Faby Naruto

Comedic Sketches – Zomato

Content that is fun and engaging and does not have a direct product integration but sticks to the core theme of food has been a part of Zomato’s content strategy, which has now been extended with short-format videos make up for a substantial amount of comedic sketches.

Popular set-ups such as misheard lyrics (but in a South Indian eatery), the curious case of chai and its half-hearted love for Parle-G and the ultimate crime one can commit in ‘two minutes’ have all been incorporated into YouTube Shorts.

Misheard Lyrics

The Forever Biscuit

Cooking Tutorials – Tastemade India

The Indian entry of the global entertainment company that hosts a community of food and travel enthusiasts has been efficient and embraces multiple content formats, one of which has been engaging short-format cooking tutorials.

Whether it’s Apple Crumble Pudding, or modaks raising the festive spirit, the snackable videos display the preparation and cooking process, captions include ingredients, instructions, and required quantity. The company has been able to cater to the growing number of social media users who have had a heightened consumption of food-related content.

Modak – Tastemade India

Turkish Kebabs – Tastemade India

#HappyAtHome – Bacardi NH7 Weekender

One of the largest South Asian multi-genre arts festivals may not have been able to deliver the traditional in-person experiences during the pandemic but they have managed to stay relevant with appealing content.

The latest extension of their umbrella content property, #HappyAtHome, which has been populated with several editions of content series is their short-form videos created in collaboration with Skrap, a company that offers zero waste and sustainability services for businesses.

The series highlights the numerous ways viewers can upcycle products such as the Bacardi glass bottle or the signature festival mug, or even everyday products made out of single-use plastic such as takeout containers.

#HappyAtHome – NH7 X Skrap

#HappyAtHome – NH7 X Skrap

Product Description – Hemis

Hemis, the sustainable apparel, nutrition, and lifestyle brand has been using short-form videos to introduce their products, highlight the plant-based or natural ingredients, and outline its benefits.

Being a sustainable brand, one of the challenges is building familiarity with the audience and giving the potential leads a substantial understanding of the products and their benefits, for instance apprising them about the fabric made out of milk, or the wonders of hemp oil.

Milk Fabric – Hemis

Hemp Oil – Hemis

Decreased attention span of consumers is not a problem anymore, 15 seconds is all a campaign needs.


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