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MARKETING

TikTok Is Exploring Stories & Long Videos: Will Marketers Even Care?

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TikTok Is Exploring Stories & Long Videos: Will Marketers Even Care?

When TikTok went viral in 2019, pulling in millions of global users nearly overnight, almost every major social media channel quickly pivoted attention to short-form videos.

While Instagram – which notably innovated on Snapchat Stories – launched Instagram Reels, YouTube – known for its longer-form videos – launched YouTube Shorts.

Now, TikTok seems to be taking on its biggest social media rivals yet again by exploring two familiar — but still surprising — features: TikTok Stories and 10-minute video capabilities.

If you love the short-form, in-feed, and non-ephemeral nature of TikTok’s platform, you might be surprised that they’re now launching features that other platforms are famous for – rather than continuing to make their own unique offerings.

You also might wonder, “Will these features make TikTok a more applicable channel for my brand?” Or, “Will TikTok’s Stories and long-form content go unnoticed and eventually be discontinued – just like Twitter Fleets?”

To help marketers try to determine if these features will make a difference in their TikTok or social media strategy, I’ll highlight how they work, why TikTok’s launching them, and if they pose any opportunities for brands.

We’ll discuss TikTok Stories first. But, if you’re just interested in long-form video instead, click here to jump down to that section of this post.

TikTok has expanded its Stories feature pilot after initially testing the feature in a few select countries like Brazil in Q1. While TikTok has not yet published a press release about Stories or pilot results, U.S. users began to see a notification announcing the feature on apps throughout the past month.

Tiktok stories announcement in tiktok app

As many marketers already know, this pilot comes after most major social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even LinkedIn have launched or explored their own version of this feature.

What’s the Story with Stories?: A Quick History

At the HubSpot Blog, the evolution of Stories features across social media platforms has taught us one thing: When one platform develops a viral feature, other major platforms will follow suit with an incredibly similar option.

Stories began on Snapchat, the first well-known ephemeral app where users could create a series of videos or pictures on their profile – or a Snapchat Story – that would only show up for 24 hours. Users could also send “Snaps” or a series of disappearing Snaps to other users who could only see them when they opened their message.

Soon after Snapchat attracted millions of users with ephemeral content, Instagram launched Stories as a key part of its platform. Then, soon after that Facebook, LinkedIn, and even Twitter launched Story or Story-like features. While Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram still host Stories today, Twitter has disbanded its version – called “Fleets” and Snapchat has steadily lost interest from consumers and brands.

How to Publish a TikTok Story

If you are in the U.S. or another country where the feature is now available, creating a story is very similar to creating standard TikTok content.

1. Open TikTok’s Post tool.

First, you go to your profile and press the turquoise plus (+) on your profile picture, or go to your feed and press the Post button. You can also find a post button in the center of TikTok’s bottom navigation.

TikTok lower navigation with post button in the ceenter

2. Make your content.

Create a video, or upload or take a picture. Then add any background music, text, or effects as you would with any TikTok video.

TikTok video screen

3. Determine if your content is a Story or TikTok.

When you’re done recording or selecting a photo, you’ll see two options: Post to Story and Next. Tapping Post to Story will automatically send it to your Story and For You feeds of other users.

post story option appears on video publish screen of tiktok

One thing worth noting is that if you post a photo to your story, you’ll want to select a piece of music to go with it. Otherwise, TikTok will choose music automatically. In my case, this image was posted to my first test Story with an auto-selected Bruno Mars song.

If you tap “Next,” and don’t post the content to your Story, you’ll be sent to the last page you usually see before posting a permanent TikTok, which allows you to add a description to TikToks while also adding privacy and sharing preferences.

Because Stories are ephemeral, it seems that TikTok doesn’t allow you to add a description, hashtags, or privacy settings when you publish, which is important to keep in mind if your brand requires extra settings on your content.

Viewing a Story

There are three ways to view Stories. All are a bit tricky and sometimes rely on happenstance.

1. Sit back and swipe into new Stories.

Stories from people you follow or accounts you might be interested in will show up in the For You page feed of the TikTok app along with standard TikTok videos. While they might not have a hefty description, you can still follow the account that posted it or “Like” the content like a regular TikTok video. However, some features, like video replies, will be disabled because this content is meant to be ephemeral and will disappear after 24 hours.

2. Find Stories through “For You Page” navigation.

Open up TikTok and go to your For You page (a.k.a. your main feed). As you swipe through, pay attention to the engagement and sharing navigation buttons on the right of each video. When you see a profile picture with a turquoise ring around it, tap it to see the account’s story.

A TikTok navigation bar shows a profile image with a circle around it indicating a story is available to view

3. Find Stories on TikTok Profiles

Go to a profile of a TikToker you enjoy and look at their profile picture. If the ring appears around that profile picture, you can tap it and be sent to their story.

A profile picture has a ring around it indicating that a story's available to view.

Should You Leverage Stories?

The jury is still out on whether Stories will become a hit on TikTok. From a simple swipe through my feed, it was pretty hard to find people who were actively using them already. However, this feature is still very new and could grow in use as more people become aware of it.

Additionally, when accounts do use Stories, it essentially feels like a temporarily published TikTok video. It’s also not clear yet if posting a series of videos to your Story will be as effective as posting permanent TikTok videos with a “Part 2” link in the comments.

For example, the screenshot below shows a TikToker linking a follow-up video in the comment thread of another TikTok video where she demonstrates how to use a STEMPLAYER to isolate the vocals in Adele‘s music.

a tiktok user links a video to a part two of her tiktok content in her comment thrad

Because of the engagement of Stories compared to linking permanent TikTok content together, some TikTok users might be more interested in growing their following and evergreen views with more permanent content.

Aside from lower usage, one thing that could also hold TikTok Stories back is the features barriers to discoverability on the platform. However, while it might not be as easy to find Stories right now because it is still in the pilot phase, this could change if the app fully embraces them with a Stories page or search features as Instagram has.

At this point, Stories shouldn’t be the reason your brand decides to go on TikTok. You’ll ultimately want to look at its entire assortment of features, audience, and consumer behavior to determine if your brand is a good fit.

However, if you already have a TikTok following and have time for light experimentation, posting a light-lift, on-brand test story likely won’t hurt your following. It’s possible that unconfirmed TikTok algorithms might even give you a boost.  

Multiple high-performing TikTokers I follow say they expect to see TikTok Stories get a discoverability lift in various TikTok feeds as the algorithm might favor or push content that leverages new features. While TikTok hasn’t spoken about this at length or publicly, here’s some example of advice from a user with over 350,000 followers.

If you do experiment with TikTok Stories, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Cater your Stories to TikTok’s audience and platform: Stories should be fast-paced, value-packed, or interesting in another way to the TikTok audience.
  • Stories will need promotion: It can be incredibly easy to miss Stories because there is not a designated location for them on the app. Users primarily know a Story is available when a profile image is outlined on the right navigation of a TikTok video. If you have a story you want people to see, consider making a TikTok that goes over the topic and encourages people to watch that story.
  • Determine if views or followers are most important: One way many accounts gain followers is when users click the plus sign on the profile icon that appears in video navigation. But, when you publish a story or launch a live event, tapping the profile picture just leads to this content. This is important to keep in mind if you want to gain followers quickly.

Long-Form Video on TikTok

In 2022, TikTok enabled all users the ability to add videos that were up to 10-minutes long. The company began exploring long-video features in the summer of 2021 by allowing just a select group of users to use them first. In its initial announcement of the long-video pilot, TikTok explained that the move aimed to give creators more tools and flexibility.

“Creative expression brings people together. It’s how we connect with our communities. It’s how we entertain, educate, inform, and inspire each other. This is also why we’ve focused on providing our community with a range of tools to help unleash their creativity – longer videos are now one more tool people can use to captivate the community with their creative expression,” read the statement.

Since then, the feature eventually rolled out to all users – who can now create videos that are up to 10 minutes long. And, to many of us, this continued rollout is still a bit surprising.

When TikTok began to go viral as a host for 1-minute videos, it seemed like an answer to Vine, a once viral and notably discontinued short-form video app. Even as viewership grow, TikTok still kept videos short by only eventually allowing a max of three-minute videos. Not only has TikTok strayed away from long-form in the past, but the platform’s virality led many brands and social media channels to recognize how consumers were shifting to short-form video consumption.

While a post from TikTok explains that videos over one minute long have driven more than 5 billion global views, the platform still seems driven by short-form content, aside from occasional live streams that appear in the For You feed.

Why is engagement so important? While TikTok might give an unconfirmed initial boost to creators who use its new features, the company has shared that its algorithm is partially driven by engagement. Content with lower engagement will be deprioritized in its feed. Thus, if someone posts a video that feels too slow to start, boring, or too long, they could swipe to the next video in the feed before it ends, avoid liking or commenting on it, and might not follow the account holder. As a result, the content could be deprioritized.

While this shouldn’t necessarily discourage you, it shows that you should still be strategic about what you’re posting on TikTok’s fast-paced platform and how long it really needs to be to grab attention and engagement.

Should You Post Long TikToks?

While slightly longer TikTok videos or even TikTok Live could be a great way to engage your TikTok while also potentially getting an algorithmic boost from the app, keep in mind that much of TikTok’s audience tends to prefer things short and sweet.

If you do want to test out a longer video, you can simply go to create a TikTok and film or upload content that’s up to 10-minutes long.

Ultimately, you’ll receive solid engagement and memorability on fast-paced apps like TikTok if your videos quickly and concisely pull viewers into the action and give them all the key information they need. If you do go beyond three minutes, your content will need to be incredibly interesting. Otherwise, the second a user loses interest, they’ll move on to the next video with just a quick swipe of their finger.

TikTok Pivots: Desperation or Competitive Maturity?

When TikTok first went viral, it was the go-to app for short-form videos. But now, as it matures at the top of app store and website charts, it’s starting to become a go-to platform for all things video.

And, while TikTok expanding to Stories and long-form videos might seem like a surprising play, the brand isn’t necessarily wrong to test these popular social media features.

Ultimately, once virality has been reached, platforms need to expand to have sustainable growth. Why? Because older competitors will likely copy or innovate on the unique features of smaller or newer platforms.

In 2019 and 2020, TikTok was in that situation. Although the app was viral and getting huge attention from brands, competitors like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter quickly began testing short-form video features. Yet, TikTok’s successfully kept growing and competing with these channels because of its continuous pivots, pilots, and evolutions. Essentially, TikTok is doing exactly what its competitors have done to capitalize on its features.

While TikTok was once that cool, edgy app that some had ever seen anything like before, it’s maturing into a channel that millions of people use daily. Sometimes, remaining relevant as you grow means you must release and test both never-before-seen and competitive features.

Is TikTok Right For You?

While some brands aren’t the best fit for TikTok and others still need to learn more about the platform to leverage it, this platform isn’t going away any time soon and it’s constantly growing and changing. Even if long-form content and Stories don’t become a hit on the app, the platform might still be relevant for your brand one day and is worth keeping on your radar.

It’s ultimately up to you to decide whether these features will intrigue your TikTok audience or if TikTok is even right for you. For more help on that front, download the free resource below.

Blog - Content Mapping Template


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YouTube Ad Specs, Sizes, and Examples [2024 Update]

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YouTube Ad Specs, Sizes, and Examples

Introduction

With billions of users each month, YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine and top website for video content. This makes it a great place for advertising. To succeed, advertisers need to follow the correct YouTube ad specifications. These rules help your ad reach more viewers, increasing the chance of gaining new customers and boosting brand awareness.

Types of YouTube Ads

Video Ads

  • Description: These play before, during, or after a YouTube video on computers or mobile devices.
  • Types:
    • In-stream ads: Can be skippable or non-skippable.
    • Bumper ads: Non-skippable, short ads that play before, during, or after a video.

Display Ads

  • Description: These appear in different spots on YouTube and usually use text or static images.
  • Note: YouTube does not support display image ads directly on its app, but these can be targeted to YouTube.com through Google Display Network (GDN).

Companion Banners

  • Description: Appears to the right of the YouTube player on desktop.
  • Requirement: Must be purchased alongside In-stream ads, Bumper ads, or In-feed ads.

In-feed Ads

  • Description: Resemble videos with images, headlines, and text. They link to a public or unlisted YouTube video.

Outstream Ads

  • Description: Mobile-only video ads that play outside of YouTube, on websites and apps within the Google video partner network.

Masthead Ads

  • Description: Premium, high-visibility banner ads displayed at the top of the YouTube homepage for both desktop and mobile users.

YouTube Ad Specs by Type

Skippable In-stream Video Ads

  • Placement: Before, during, or after a YouTube video.
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 1920 x 1080px
    • Vertical: 1080 x 1920px
    • Square: 1080 x 1080px
  • Aspect Ratio:
    • Horizontal: 16:9
    • Vertical: 9:16
    • Square: 1:1
  • Length:
    • Awareness: 15-20 seconds
    • Consideration: 2-3 minutes
    • Action: 15-20 seconds

Non-skippable In-stream Video Ads

  • Description: Must be watched completely before the main video.
  • Length: 15 seconds (or 20 seconds in certain markets).
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 1920 x 1080px
    • Vertical: 1080 x 1920px
    • Square: 1080 x 1080px
  • Aspect Ratio:
    • Horizontal: 16:9
    • Vertical: 9:16
    • Square: 1:1

Bumper Ads

  • Length: Maximum 6 seconds.
  • File Format: MP4, Quicktime, AVI, ASF, Windows Media, or MPEG.
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 640 x 360px
    • Vertical: 480 x 360px

In-feed Ads

  • Description: Show alongside YouTube content, like search results or the Home feed.
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 1920 x 1080px
    • Vertical: 1080 x 1920px
    • Square: 1080 x 1080px
  • Aspect Ratio:
    • Horizontal: 16:9
    • Square: 1:1
  • Length:
    • Awareness: 15-20 seconds
    • Consideration: 2-3 minutes
  • Headline/Description:
    • Headline: Up to 2 lines, 40 characters per line
    • Description: Up to 2 lines, 35 characters per line

Display Ads

  • Description: Static images or animated media that appear on YouTube next to video suggestions, in search results, or on the homepage.
  • Image Size: 300×60 pixels.
  • File Type: GIF, JPG, PNG.
  • File Size: Max 150KB.
  • Max Animation Length: 30 seconds.

Outstream Ads

  • Description: Mobile-only video ads that appear on websites and apps within the Google video partner network, not on YouTube itself.
  • Logo Specs:
    • Square: 1:1 (200 x 200px).
    • File Type: JPG, GIF, PNG.
    • Max Size: 200KB.

Masthead Ads

  • Description: High-visibility ads at the top of the YouTube homepage.
  • Resolution: 1920 x 1080 or higher.
  • File Type: JPG or PNG (without transparency).

Conclusion

YouTube offers a variety of ad formats to reach audiences effectively in 2024. Whether you want to build brand awareness, drive conversions, or target specific demographics, YouTube provides a dynamic platform for your advertising needs. Always follow Google’s advertising policies and the technical ad specs to ensure your ads perform their best. Ready to start using YouTube ads? Contact us today to get started!

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Why We Are Always ‘Clicking to Buy’, According to Psychologists

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Why We Are Always 'Clicking to Buy', According to Psychologists

Amazon pillows.

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

Salesforce launched a collection of new, generative AI-related products at Connections in Chicago this week. They included new Einstein Copilots for marketers and merchants and Einstein Personalization.

To better understand, not only the potential impact of the new products, but the evolving Salesforce architecture, we sat down with Bobby Jania, CMO, Marketing Cloud.

Dig deeper: Salesforce piles on the Einstein Copilots

Salesforce’s evolving architecture

It’s hard to deny that Salesforce likes coming up with new names for platforms and products (what happened to Customer 360?) and this can sometimes make the observer wonder if something is brand new, or old but with a brand new name. In particular, what exactly is Einstein 1 and how is it related to Salesforce Data Cloud?

“Data Cloud is built on the Einstein 1 platform,” Jania explained. “The Einstein 1 platform is our entire Salesforce platform and that includes products like Sales Cloud, Service Cloud — that it includes the original idea of Salesforce not just being in the cloud, but being multi-tenancy.”

Data Cloud — not an acquisition, of course — was built natively on that platform. It was the first product built on Hyperforce, Salesforce’s new cloud infrastructure architecture. “Since Data Cloud was on what we now call the Einstein 1 platform from Day One, it has always natively connected to, and been able to read anything in Sales Cloud, Service Cloud [and so on]. On top of that, we can now bring in, not only structured but unstructured data.”

That’s a significant progression from the position, several years ago, when Salesforce had stitched together a platform around various acquisitions (ExactTarget, for example) that didn’t necessarily talk to each other.

“At times, what we would do is have a kind of behind-the-scenes flow where data from one product could be moved into another product,” said Jania, “but in many of those cases the data would then be in both, whereas now the data is in Data Cloud. Tableau will run natively off Data Cloud; Commerce Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud — they’re all going to the same operational customer profile.” They’re not copying the data from Data Cloud, Jania confirmed.

Another thing to know is tit’s possible for Salesforce customers to import their own datasets into Data Cloud. “We wanted to create a federated data model,” said Jania. “If you’re using Snowflake, for example, we more or less virtually sit on your data lake. The value we add is that we will look at all your data and help you form these operational customer profiles.”

Let’s learn more about Einstein Copilot

“Copilot means that I have an assistant with me in the tool where I need to be working that contextually knows what I am trying to do and helps me at every step of the process,” Jania said.

For marketers, this might begin with a campaign brief developed with Copilot’s assistance, the identification of an audience based on the brief, and then the development of email or other content. “What’s really cool is the idea of Einstein Studio where our customers will create actions [for Copilot] that we hadn’t even thought about.”

Here’s a key insight (back to nomenclature). We reported on Copilot for markets, Copilot for merchants, Copilot for shoppers. It turns out, however, that there is just one Copilot, Einstein Copilot, and these are use cases. “There’s just one Copilot, we just add these for a little clarity; we’re going to talk about marketing use cases, about shoppers’ use cases. These are actions for the marketing use cases we built out of the box; you can build your own.”

It’s surely going to take a little time for marketers to learn to work easily with Copilot. “There’s always time for adoption,” Jania agreed. “What is directly connected with this is, this is my ninth Connections and this one has the most hands-on training that I’ve seen since 2014 — and a lot of that is getting people using Data Cloud, using these tools rather than just being given a demo.”

What’s new about Einstein Personalization

Salesforce Einstein has been around since 2016 and many of the use cases seem to have involved personalization in various forms. What’s new?

“Einstein Personalization is a real-time decision engine and it’s going to choose next-best-action, next-best-offer. What is new is that it’s a service now that runs natively on top of Data Cloud.” A lot of real-time decision engines need their own set of data that might actually be a subset of data. “Einstein Personalization is going to look holistically at a customer and recommend a next-best-action that could be natively surfaced in Service Cloud, Sales Cloud or Marketing Cloud.”

Finally, trust

One feature of the presentations at Connections was the reassurance that, although public LLMs like ChatGPT could be selected for application to customer data, none of that data would be retained by the LLMs. Is this just a matter of written agreements? No, not just that, said Jania.

“In the Einstein Trust Layer, all of the data, when it connects to an LLM, runs through our gateway. If there was a prompt that had personally identifiable information — a credit card number, an email address — at a mimum, all that is stripped out. The LLMs do not store the output; we store the output for auditing back in Salesforce. Any output that comes back through our gateway is logged in our system; it runs through a toxicity model; and only at the end do we put PII data back into the answer. There are real pieces beyond a handshake that this data is safe.”

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