TikTok head office in United States
TikTok is encouraging creators to upload longer videos. Reuters

Much to the chagrin of some users, TikTok has started promoting longer videos. TikTok began to garner popularity among users in 2020 as a short-form video-sharing platform at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Hoping to mimic TikTok's skyrocketing popularity, leading social media platforms like YouTube, Instagram and Facebook launched similar products. These TikTok rivals encouraged users to post vertically displayed videos up to 1-minute in length.

These platforms spared no effort in a bid to gain TikTok-like popularity among the crucial teen demographic. However, TikTok is now recommending its users to make and watch longer videos.

The short-form video pioneer recently discontinued the original Creator Fund rewards. Now, creators will have to join the new Creativity Program Beta to monetise their content.

As part of the Creativity Program Beta, TikTok is encouraging users to make high-quality, longer TikTok videos to monetise their content. This shift doesn't come as a surprise given that longer-form content format is often more profitable.

Moreover, the strategy is expected to encourage users to spend more time on an app, In fact, a new Pew Research Center report claims some American teens say their use of certain social media sites is "almost constant".

Likewise, data shared by an Insider Intelligence report suggests TikTok is closing in on Netflix in terms of time US adults spend on the app. A technical research report, however, implies that nearly 50 per cent of the content displayed on the "For You" page was likely to encourage suicide amongst teens.

TikTok creators react to the app's long-form strategy

Understandably, some TikTok creators aren't excited about the move, which they believe is a major departure from what made the app so popular. What made TikTok so popular initially is that the app enabled users to scroll through a wide range of content at warp speed and nearly anyone can make videos without a lot of planning.

TikTok creator Nikki Apostolou (@recycldstardust), who has nearly 150,000 followers said: "I don't always have a minute of content in me".

"I feel like there are so many creators out there who came to TikTok because it was the short-form video app." Apostolou, who makes content about Native American history and culture on the app, said.

Describing the move as TikTok's attempt to be like mini YouTube, she pointed out that creators who are there for the short-form content will be left out.

In a statement, TikTok spokesperson Zachary Kizer explained that the new Creativity Program is based on the "learnings and feedback" the company gained from the previous Creator Fund.

"As we continue developing new ways to reward creators and enrich the TikTok experience, we value the feedback and direct insights from our community to help inform our decisions," he added.

Critical media studies scholar and PhD candidate at the University of Illinois, Krysten Stein, noted that the short-form video turned out to be very useful when TikTok first launched as it quickly got a lot of people on the platform.

Stein suggests TikTok could be trying to show advertisers that it can make visitors spend more time on one video, However, it will be interesting to see how viewers who have been using the app to consume short videos will respond.

Posting longer videos on TikTok

TikTok has been encouraging users to post and consume longer videos on the app for a while now. Over the last 3 years, the app has increased the time limit from 1 minute to 3, 5 and now 10 minutes.

According to a CNN report, the platform is currently testing fifteen-minute uploads. Last month, TikTok announced its decision to shut down the Creator Fund in the US, the UK, France and Germany.

So, creators who wanted to continue getting paid by TikTok for their content were left with no choice but to join the new Creativity Program. The new program will pay adult creators with at least 10,000 followers for videos longer than 1 minute.

The content has to meet a slew of other criteria as well. Meanwhile, TikTok insists the program will encourage viewers to spend more time on a creator's content.

"Also, 1 minute+ content can help build trust with your viewers through more connection, information, and educational content being provided," TikTok said in a blog post.

TikTok also noted that creators should expect to get paid more per video under the new Creativity Program.