The TikTokification of the Internet and its Impact on Our Attention Span

The TikTokification of the Internet and its Impact on Our Attention Span

Tune in to witness our deep dive into the “TikTokification” of the Internet, how it’s reshaping content and solutions to restore sanity on platforms like YouTube, Spotify, and Reddit! 


It is common knowledge these days that popular social media platforms, like TikTok, have turned the world of digital content upside down. However, not everyone understands the full extent of these platforms’ impact.

Whether you are using these platforms for watching videos, discovering new music, or merely scrolling through vertically arranged feeds, your behavior online is being directly influenced by the so-called “TikTokification” phenomenon.


The Rise of Short-form Video Content

Short-form Video Content

The advent of short, interactive content that fills entire websites is invasion personified. Internet-based corporations have adapted to the now trendy concept of generating short-beat content and plan their growth strategies around it. This is not just limited to platforms that could logically employ this strategy, such as Instagram with its “Reels,” but even platforms like Spotify and Amazon that aren’t primarily video-based.

In response to the exponential increase in the volume of content that the internet deals with every day, algorithms have been made smarter. They analyse trends and sort through the content, making it an easy job for the users, almost like spoon-feeding them the content they’d consume.

“We went from 6 hours of videos uploaded every single minute on YouTube in 2007 to over 500 hours a minute uploaded today.”


The Downfall of Quality Content and the Emergence of Fast-Paced Growth Tactics

TikTok-styled videos

The popularity of TikTok-styled videos does come with several downsides. Creators are constantly looking for tactics to hook viewers in the first few seconds of their videos, leading to an increase in flashy, attention-grabbing, and often irrelevant additions to their content. Retention has become everyone’s obsession, and to win this retention game, creators are focusing more on tactics than on the quality of their content. Prolonged exposure to such content manipulates our brain to favour immediate gratification, which in turn reduces our attention spans, especially for the upcoming generation.


The Failed Monetization Strategy of Short-Form Content

While on the surface, it may seem as if the introduction of short-form content generation is quite profitable for these companies, the reality is sadly the opposite.

“Mark Zuckerberg said in a recent investor call that the monetization efficiency of reels is much less than feed.”

The constant flow of short videos makes it challenging for advertisements to perform well, contributing to the noticeable decrease in overall monetary benefits. Even the creators are not satisfied with the dwindling returns on their creative work. Many have reported gaining little to no benefits despite getting millions of views.


The Renaissance of Long-Form Content

podcasts and long form content
podcasts and long form content


While short-form content continues to dominate our feeds and homepages, long-form content has made a surprising comeback. Long-form content didn’t disappear, but its growth was overshadowed by the flashy, fast-paced world of TikTok-style content. Be it podcasts, newsletters, or high-quality YouTube documentaries, people still appreciate content that dives deep into the subject matter. From four-hour-long podcasts to 40-minute YouTube documentaries, there is a healthy appetite for long-form and thorough content among internet users.


A Cure to the Never-Ending Scroll: A Combination of Short and Long-Form Content

short and long-form content

So, is there a way to find a balance between delivering engaging, flashy content and substantial, deep-diving, long-form content?

The answer is yes; combining both short and long-form content in a balanced and user-friendly way could indeed be our salvation from infinite, purposeless scrolling. This flow will ensure that an internet user’s journey from accessing short, flashy clips to insightful narratives is smooth and engaging. By focusing on overall retention rather than the retention of a single short video, companies can efficiently monetize long-form content where opportunities to inject ads are greater, benefiting both parties.

However, the practical implementation of this solution is not going to be easy. It may require engineers, designers, and product managers to come together and brainstorm solutions to link short and long-form content, change what algorithms optimise for, and create a platform where creators can genuinely thrive. Yet, given the brainpower and creativity available in these companies, it’s not entirely an impossible task.

In conclusion, the ultimate goal should be to balance the need for engagement and discovery with the need for high-quality, long-form content. Both have a place in our digital ecosystem, and it’s crucial to find the right equilibrium that can help users, creators, and platform providers thrive simultaneously.



TikTokification of the Internet

The author discusses the impacts and shortcomings of short-form video platforms like TikTok and Instagram Reels. He claims these platforms, in pursuit of viewer retention, decrease viewer attention spans, making it difficult for users to focus on one piece of content for a long while not offering enough memorable content. This trend, nicknamed ‘tiktokification’, has also been picked up by Amazon and Spotify in their efforts to keep up with content overload.

Although this format is familiar to and thus accepted by billions of users, its ‘autopilot’ nature is regarded as concerning. Moreover, despite the huge user engagement, companies are finding it hard to monetise these platforms sufficiently, as evidenced by Instagram discontinuing their Reels Creator Fund and TikTok still running at a loss.

Creators are also affected as they struggle to build a sustainable income due to low payouts, often shifting to long-form content platforms such as YouTube to achieve this. Despite the explosion of short-form content, long-form content is also increasing in popularity, as highlighted by the success of podcasts, paid newsletters, and longer YouTube videos. This trend shows that if viewers find the right content, they are willing to engage for an extended period, although these platforms lack efficient discovery mechanisms.

The author suggests that the solution to benefit users, creators, and companies is linking short-form and long-form content, changing algorithm optimisation from single video retention to overall retention, and creating a platform where creators can build a real business. Companies are already making baby steps towards incorporating longer videos, but the author thinks that the established ‘swipe and forget’ behaviour on these sites is not conducive to longer content.