Social Media 11 mins read

Everything to Know About Short Video Content, TikTok Bans, and Lemon8

The advertisements we grew up watching during breaks from our favorite tv shows ranged from 30-60 seconds in length. Over time, we shifted from cable television to ad-free or limited-ad streaming services, often consumed while simultaneously scrolling through our preferred social media apps on our phones.

The Origins of Short Video Content

Today, the optimal length for a video advertisement is between 11 and 17 seconds long. That is a shockingly short amount of time for brands to grab the attention of their target customer, convince them what they are offering is the best choice, and encourage them to engage with the brand again in the future.

And yet, brands are flocking to short video marketing platforms in troves because they’ve figured out how to reach their audience in less than half the amount of time their advertising predecessors used.

The television industry tried to capitalize on the success of short-form videos with the creation of Quibi, a short-form video streaming platform. This streamer intended to produce content optimized for mobile viewing in portrait format. To no one’s surprise, this streaming platform lasted about 9 months before shutting down.

Man pretends to be shocked that Quibi only lasted 6 months

Quibi’s demise shouldn’t be interpreted as an example of a lack of interest by consumers for short-form video, but rather a misguided attempt by an industry to assimilate into trending consumer needs. Like we said before, today’s consumers like to watch short-form content while long-form content plays in the background…long-form content optimized for mobile viewing was never going to work.

Short-form video content can benefit most brands in terms of increasing awareness and driving engagement, but without an adequate understanding of their target customer, it can easily fall flat. 

Most Popular Apps for Short-Length Videos

Remember Vine? Vine was the original short-form video platform that launched in 2013 and quickly rose to 200 million daily users. Vine only survived the tumultuous technology market for 5 years, but in that time it competed with Snapchat for popularity and motivated Instagram to add short-video capabilities to its platform.

A headstone shows the Vine logo with 2013-2017 below it

Today, short videos dominate Instagram feeds as “Reels,” a format Facebook recently also began supporting. YouTube has its own short-form video feed called “Shorts.” We’re still waiting on LinkedIn and Twitter to launch their own short-form video capabilities, but for now, sharing TikToks and Reels on those platforms seems to be working for users.

TikTok launched in the US in 2017, around the same time Vine closed operations. From the beginning, TikTok videos were formatted as portrait, short-length content from the beginning and this platform remains the most popular short-form video platform. TikTok has increased the video lengths it supports over the years, but the shorter ones are still experiencing the most success.


The Fall of TikTok: How Potential Bans Will Impact the Platform

TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Beijing-based media company. Some politicians have expressed concern over the privacy and safety of US user information because the company is not regulated by the US. 

Earlier this year, President Joe Biden ordered all White House federal employees to delete the TikTok app from their devices. TikTok has since been banned for government employees in almost half of the US states and several state-funded universities have also banned the app from use on university networks.

TikTok privacy concerns are reaching outside of the US, too. Shortly after the app was banned for federal employees, the European Parliament ordered its members and affiliated staff to delete the app from their devices.

Countries that have banned TikTok partially or completely, citing a threat to national security include:

  • The United States
  • The European Union
  • The United Kingdom
  • Canada
  • Taiwan
  • Belgium
  • Denmark
  • Australia
  • New Zealand


The Fine Print: Issues With TikTok’s Privacy Policy

The reasoning behind these bans lies within TikTok’s privacy policy, which states that users who create an account, upload content, or interact with the platform are agreeing to allow TikTok to collect:

  • Any account and profile information (name, age, username, phone number, profile image, email, and password)
  • Any user-generated content uploaded to the app (audio recording, photos, comments, and videos)
  • Direct messages
  • Any information used to purchase something through the app (card numbers, names, information from third-party payment apps, billing, and shipping address)
  • User’s contacts
  • User’s IP address, time zone, device IDs, network type, and device model.
  • User’s approximate location and, with the user’s permission, their precise location.

A screenshot of the TikTok user agreement

These line items might seem scary when you read them all at once, but when was the last time you actually read the Terms & Conditions for anything before checking I agree and moving on?

These stipulations and TikTok’s data aggregation aren’t much different than the fine print found in the privacy policy of other popular apps like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, but the parent company’s ties to the Chinese government have many individuals concerned.

One big difference between user data collected by Meta, Apple, Google, and Microsoft and that of TikTok is that when the United States government requests access to data from US-led companies, these companies have a right to refuse to turn it over. Chinese tech companies, however, are required to turn over user data to the government when it is demanded.

TikTok’s Response to Bans

Representatives from TikTok have maintained that these bans are unnecessary and unfounded, motivated by geopolitical bias, and increasing in popularity simply because the US inspired a snowball effect.

Following a hearing with Congress, that revealed some problematic situations with ByteDance (but also didn’t make members of Congress seem very…tech savvy – see above) the TikTok CEO announced an effort to appease the US’s concerns with Project Texas: a $1.5 billion initiative to create a committee based in the US with United States government-approved members who will oversee, store, and monitor TIkTok data from American users.

What Happens If TikTok Gets Banned Completely? 

With 150 million active TikTok users in the United States, it’s safe to say that a complete ban would affect a lot of people, including the brands that use it as a main marketing channel. But, if you are a TikTok user who spends hours a day scrolling down the FYP feed, the good news is you won’t notice a change right away.

If a ban passes, Apple and Google will be forced to remove it from their app stores, but they cannot remove it from individual devices. This means users will still be able to use the app as long as it functions – which might not be too long once it stops receiving software updates. 

Another possibility of a ban is a complete block of ISP access to TikTok, effectively killing all US-based traffic and usage, even if the app is still downloaded on a device.

If this happens, TikTok’s disappearance will open a door for a US-based app to step into its place. For the many content creators, brands, and avid daily users of TikTok, a replacement app could be easily embraced.

Screenshot from the homepage of Lemon8, showing the app in motion

What is Lemon8?

Lemon8 has been trending all over TikTok and other social media platforms as a potential replacement for TikTok. Lemon8 is a photo and video-sharing channel that appeals to users interested in food, beauty, wellness, and travel. Content on this application has been described as a combination of that of Instagram and Pinterest.

Here’s something interesting: Lemon8 is owned by…you guessed it! ByteDance. 

This app isn’t new, but it is new to Western countries. It was first introduced in Japan in 2020 and began gaining popularity in the US in early 2023. A week after its introduction on the App Store, it reached #1 for lifestyle apps.

Is Lemon8 Replacing TikTok?

Lemon8 has been touted all over TikTok by influencers in recent months, but savvy users have discovered that ByteDance is paying influencers to spread the word about their alternate app.

As ByteDance loses users on TikTok over privacy concerns and potential bans, its goal is to encourage them to download Lemon8 instead. 

Lemon8 isn’t a direct replacement for TikTok. This app is more likely to replace Instagram for many users who have become bored with the IG interface. 

Recent reports have shown that Instagram is starting to lose its luster due to increasing the amount of content from accounts users aren’t following on their feeds. Many users are leaving Meta’s apps and spending more time on TikTok, but if access to that app is revoked, they’ll need something new. Enter: Lemon8.

The Future of Short Video Marketing

For brands that have incorporated short video marketing into their strategies, it may be a frustrating time. Maybe you’ve finally settled into a short-form video cadence, and then you find out people are engaging less on Instagram and could be unable to access TikTok soon.

If your brand falls into this category, we see you. But it’s not time to give up on short video marketing yet. 

You can still find ways to engage your target audience with Instagram Reels, you just might need to shift your strategy. YouTube Shorts provide a stable and still-emerging channel to distribute short-form video content, and if you begin now you’ll be ahead of the brands leaving TikTok after a potential future mass exodus.

The key to effective short-form video marketing is a solid understanding of your target audience and the content types they prefer to engage with. Reach out to us for guidance related to developing your brand’s audience and short video marketing opportunities.


Frequently Asked Questions

Where is TikTok being banned?

TikTok has been banned by several government agencies both in the US and beyond and has full or partial bans in The European Union, The U.K., Canada, Taiwan, Belgium, Denmark, Australia, and New Zealand. Some universities in the US have also banned TikTok from being used on their wifi networks.

What is Lemon8 used for?

Lemon8 is an app created by ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok. Lemon8 is a photo and video-sharing platform similar to Pinterest and Instagram that is especially popular for food, travel, and fashion content.

Are Instagram Reels losing popularity?

Some brands have reported a recent decrease in engagement for Instagram Reels content. This decrease is likely related to a drop in Instagram users inspired by the app’s new method of serving content from accounts users do not follow on their feeds. Brands will need to develop their audience and create the right content to continue receiving valuable engagements through Reels moving forward.

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