Content Studio

TikTok may fall, but vertical video is here to stay.

Tiktok may fall. But vertical video is here to stay. From the MHP/Team SI Content Studio.

A guide to vertical video alternatives for brands and marketers.

By Chris Bell-Davis, Content Studio Creative Manager and Kayla Baugh, Content Studio Brand Manager

The regulatory clock is ticking for social media giant TikTok. From the halls of the capitol to legislative bodies around the country – and even the globe – lawmakers are addressing their serious privacy concerns with the platform and its owner, ByteDance.

Thirty two states have banned TikTok from government-issued devices. Congress passed similar legislation in its omnibus spending bill which banned access to the social media app from any federally-issued device or network. Nine other countries, plus the European Union have also followed suit.

TikTok launched in American app stores in 2017 with revolutionary short-form video content and a highly-personalized algorithm which can keep users scrolling for hours. Increased screen time during the Covid pandemic accelerated TikTok’s rise, and it’s now the fourth-most popular social media platform in the United States, trailing Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. 

If the ban does indeed go into effect, what does all of this mean for the app’s more than 100 million American users and for brands, marketers and creators that use the platform to engage audiences? Regardless of what regulatory challenges lay ahead for TikTok, it has already made its mark on social media. Its authentic, short-form video content is the new expectation for millions of users in the United States and around the world. Social media will not go back to the way it used to be.

As marketers and storytellers, we believe in the power of vertical video. So, what are the alternatives to TikTok? Meta and YouTube have implemented their own TikTok copycats in the form of Reels and Shorts, respectively. These mediums provide users with significantly-increased reach and engagement for posting vertical, short-form videos. If you already have a library of TikTok videos, removing the watermark and uploading to IG Reels is an easy next step. Removing the TikTok watermark before you upload is crucial, as Instagram has explicitly mentioned that content recycled from other apps (with visible watermarks or logos) will be more difficult to discover on the platform.

TikTok’s content has changed the way brands market across social media. Whereas social media marketing did not differ greatly from traditional strategies in the past, TikTok’s penchant for authenticity has pushed brands to let their hair down. Brands who throw off the polished, corporate look, put a human face to their name through brand ambassadors or employees, and promote values and community perform better both online and in real life. 

At MHP/Team SI, we’ve seen the power of TikTok firsthand for clients like UA Little Rock who used the platform to authentically communicate with students about a new Cybersecurity certificate program. The video produced specifically with a TikTok audience in mind, outperformed other platforms, garnering 22 leads that resulted in new applications. Its success also earned a gold award for the Educational Advertising Awards (watch the video). While the University has shifted away from TikTok, UA Little Rock is still reaping the benefits of vertical video on other platforms, like Meta Reels. 

Love it or hate it, TikTok’s effect on social media and online marketing is here to stay. Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and even LinkedIn will continue to evolve products to keep up with user’s appetite for authentic, vertical video. Our advice? Lean into authentic, vertical video. A/B test new things. Get creative and appear less corporate. Audiences are hungry for authenticity. If you are not harnessing the power of vertical video to tell your brand story, it’s not too late to jump on the bandwagon. And now, there are more options than ever beyond TikTok. 


Chris Bell-Davis