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All About TikTok’s Evolution Into a Hub for Longer, Horizontal Content

TikTok shifts to horizontal videos, challenging norms, and luring creators with boosted viewership.
Cover Image Source:  TikTok | Getty Images
Cover Image Source: TikTok | Getty Images

"TikTok goes full YouTube" seems like a paradoxical statement at first glance, considering TikTok's reputation for bite-sized vertical videos that capture attention in mere seconds. However, in a surprising move, the popular short-form video platform is urging its creators to break away from the vertical norm and embrace the horizontal format to encourage the production of longer content.

TikTok | Getty Images
TikTok | Getty Images

The shift is evident in TikTok's recent incentive program targeting creators, as observed by influencers @candicedchap and @kenlyealtumbiz. The prompt indicates a willingness to boost horizontal videos exceeding a minute in length within 72 hours of posting. This move is a departure from TikTok's traditional vertical video orientation, signaling a strategic convergence with YouTube's landscape.

TikTok, primarily a mobile-centric platform, has been synonymous with vertical videos, aligning seamlessly with the mobile viewing habits of its users. Convincing users to rotate their phones to watch horizontal content might seem like a considerable challenge, but TikTok appears determined to bridge the gap between its format and the more established YouTube style.

Horizontal Videos | Getty Images
Horizontal Videos | Getty Images

The YouTube-ization of TikTok has been unfolding gradually. The platform has been testing longer video formats, starting with 15-minute videos and experimenting with 30-minute content. This transition towards extended content is reminiscent of YouTube's typical video length, often exceeding 10 minutes for monetization purposes. TikTok's strategic move to encourage horizontal videos is part of a broader initiative to evolve its platform and cater to creators who may find themselves straddling multiple platforms. By boosting horizontal videos, TikTok aims to compete with YouTube's longer-form content while retaining its unique appeal.

This recent push towards horizontal content is not the first instance of TikTok nudging its creators towards a more YouTube-like approach. The introduction of the Series paywall program allowed users to create collections of videos lasting up to 20 minutes, providing a platform for creators to delve into more extensive and immersive storytelling. With a subscription model allowing prices ranging from $1 to $190, TikTok Series competes with YouTube's monetization features, enticing creators to explore content that goes beyond the typical short video format.

Youtube | Getty Images
YouTube | Getty Images

While TikTok remains popular for its quick, entertaining snippets, the allure of longer, more elaborate content is undeniable. Creators, particularly those with an established presence on the platform for over three months, are now presented with an opportunity to engage audiences differently.

The potential challenge lies in convincing creators to deviate from their established content creation norms, especially on a platform known for its vertical-first philosophy. However, the promise of a viewership boost within 72 hours serves as a powerful incentive. Creators are likely to experiment with the new format, exploring the storytelling possibilities that come with the horizontal canvas. It's essential to note that TikTok's foray into horizontal videos doesn't necessarily signal a direct threat to YouTube. While TikTok is expanding its content offerings, YouTube remains a behemoth in the online video space, boasting a vast library of diverse content spanning various genres and lengths. Creators might be tempted to repurpose their YouTube content for TikTok's horizontal format, but this doesn't necessarily translate to a shift in allegiance. YouTube, especially with its Shorts feature, continues to hold its ground as a lucrative platform for creators, offering monetization incentives that TikTok is still working to match.

Tik Tok is displayed on the screen of an iPhone | Getty Images | Photo by Chesnot
TikTok is displayed on the screen of an iPhone | Getty Images | Photo by Chesnot

The ongoing evolution of TikTok's features, including longer videos and now horizontal content, mirrors the dynamic nature of the digital landscape. As the platform navigates the delicate balance between maintaining its unique identity and accommodating diverse content preferences, creators are presented with a broader canvas to express their creativity. The playful and humorous tone that often characterizes TikTok's content may find a new dimension in horizontal videos, allowing for different storytelling techniques and visual dynamics. The revamped iPad app, in particular, stands to benefit from the transition to horizontal content, offering a more immersive viewing experience.