You’re a content creator. Whether you produce sit-down interviews or you’re a vlogger, a true-crime podcaster on camera, or a news reporter, you spend hours conceptualizing, shooting, editing, and publishing long-form content for your audience - and they are here for it!

But if you ever want to grow your faithful following, the first and easiest way to maximize your platform is to learn the art of short-form content, which you may or may not be as comfortable with.

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We’re talking Instagram Reels, YouTube Shorts, and TikTok videos, which we would argue are a content creator’s best friends, because they allow you to reach new audiences that wouldn’t have met you otherwise. They also give your current audience members the opportunity to bring their plus-ones to the party by sharing your content.

When you’ve dealt with long-form content for so long, though, it might be hard to narrow it down, chop it into perfect, bite-sized pieces, or create coherent “chapters” out of a long “story.” Most importantly, you need to understand the tools that will not only make your content great, but also make it go VIRAL!

We know you’ve worked long and hard on every video you deem worthy of sharing. Making shorter versions might feel like heartlessly taking a hatchet to your precious content—to the point of losing its quality and value—but don’t worry; we’re not going to let that happen.

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With these seven tips, we will teach you how to maximize and convert your long-form content into quality shorts for which your audience (and potential audience) will thank you.

1. Define your goal

Understanding your goal is the most crucial step in creating a short. You might understand what your long-form content is about, but it takes a bit of deciphering to turn it into Shorts or Reels. The most important thing to avoid is leaving your audience confused about what you’re trying to convey. If you feel lost, so will they.

Is the goal of your short to share a story, a recipe, or a political message?

For example, if you are creating a Reel with a political message, you might want to use dramatic music and news-style editing, with bold imagery, and not shy away from controversial soundbites. In contrast, if you are creating a recipe Reel, you might want to keep your editing style light and airy, with fun music, appealing, step-by-step visuals, and a satisfying shot of the end product.

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2. Clarify your message

Usually, in long-form videos, just like a book or a movie, there is one main plot or message and multiple smaller ones. Although each chapter is different, you are still able to tell the main plot. Try finding video snippets that encompass the main message, and in addition, create extra reels with the mini-messages in the video.

For example, if the video is about 'how to create a sourdough starter' - find a snippet that summarizes that main message and in addition create sub-focus reels like 'the health benefits of homemade sourdough bread' or 'how to make healthy sourdough pizza'.

If finding the goal and understanding your brand isn't your forte, use the heroguide brand story method!  

Define your goal and move on to step two!

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3. Hook your audience

When readers decide whether or not to read a book, they will often flip to the first page and check out the first sentence because that will tell them everything they need to know. That sentence will often determine whether they pick it up or move on to another book.

With shorts, the first seconds matter, so you have to make it count. People tend to scroll through reels at the speed of lightning, we find that a combination of these tips works like magic:

  1. Striking captions: Use striking words in the context of your reel such as “the darkest conspiracy theories” or ‘Taylor Swift tour secrets” or “Did you know that you can grow your own avocados at home?”.
  2. Captivating imagery: Use the most captivating video or imagery you can, AI images also work great to get people intrigued straight off the bat. 
  3. Viral soundbites: Use pop culture’s latest popular movie or series quotes or music. 
  4. Be creative: Use the elements of surprise and wonder to captivate your audience

Research what unique opening will make your audience intrigued right off the bat. Spend some time scrolling through social media shorts and take notes on what works and what doesn't.

 Leave them with just the right amount of mystery to make them curious enough to watch more of your content.

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4. Create a series

If you’ve been on TikTok, you might have come across Reesa Teesa, a woman who went viral for her series "Who TF Did I Marry?”. She uploaded a fifty-part series, with a total running time of eight hours, on the man who conned her into marriage, and TikTok was hooked. She knew one thing for certain: this story was worth telling!

We’re not saying you have to go to that extreme, but you get the concept—some stories are best when given space to be told without feeling rushed.

When you create a series of parts, leaving the audience on a cliffhanger—and a desire to come back for updates or to see the progress—you have better chances of them following you. Remember to end each short with a hook that leads into the next.

5. Give viewers a reason to stay.

Remember how we said you only have a second to impress? Well, here are some useful ways to give them a reason to stay.

For example, choose a trending song that makes people linger on your shorts because they just can't get enough of it, or hop on trends with viral soundbites.

For example, the Netflix series Bridgerton and their modern-classical music, or a sound byte (or full song cause it’s fun!) of The Cork kids from Kabin Crew viral sensation The Spark.

Use the soundbite “Think you can stop what we do?! I doubt it!” and use it in the context of your message, for example:

A woman who makes all her food from scratch and gets a lot of online hate can use that soundbite, displaying a ‘hate comment’ someone left in the comments. She can then lipsync to the soundbite, giving a clear message that no one can stop her.

Or use the viral Man in Finance by singer Megan Boni known as @girl_on_couch, which goes:

I’m looking for a man in finance, trust fund, 6’5, blue eyes.

As you lipsync or hear the music, display text on the screen for four things you/you’re audience are looking for; for example, you are promoting a line of lip gloss:

I’m looking for a lip gloss that lasts long, shimmers, non-sticky, bold colors. 

Make it visually stimulating by adding captions if the short is a talking head or there is narration. That way you also keep the interest of the hearing impaired or people watching while their phone is on mute. Also, choose a cover that is visually coherent with your feed and also attracts the eye. We recommend using SubMagic,, and CapCut - the best apps for creating short-form videos and adding captions!

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6. Make the short one's loop.

This might not work with every short, but when the short is super short, only a few seconds long, the coveted algorithm understands that people love your short since it is being watched on repeat. Use the looping technique in which the last scene and first scene loop flawlessly into each other, making it seem as if the short is one continuous video. You can also play a round with the text, using the last and first sentences to seem like one coherent sentence, creating an illusion that the short didn't end.

Like this NY fashion buyer or this harpist who promotes her music online in this reel by seamlessly looping her serene song.

7. Ask for engagement

Lastly, the algorithm loves it when people leave comments in the comment section or subscribe to your channel or page. It gets the message that your content is popular and in high demand, which gives you more chance of your video being shown as people scroll. Ask your audience, either within the voiceover or in the text, to share their opinions in the comment section or follow you for more. Don’t be shy! You’ve got nothing to lose!

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Shorts pro-tips

IIf you still find it hard to find captivating snippets for your shorts because the original video is so long and full of information, try the following method.

  • Brush over your footage and listen for keywords that stand out. A keyword is one that holds deep meaning for the audience you’re trying to reach, such as controversial words or ones that could lead to an opinionated sentence.
  • Once you’ve found your keywords, look for starting and ending points surrounding each keyword and clip them to make into a short.
  • How do you know if it passes the test? It must be able to work as a stand-alone piece of footage—the type that has a beginning, middle, and end, even if the end is shrouded in mystery.
  • Lastly, remember to have fun. The best ideas come when you’re having fun learning new techniques and being creative, so enjoy the process and keep trying!

If you need help growing your business through social media and powerful Shorts or Reels, make sure to get in touch with us.


If you need help growing your business through social media and powerful reels, make sure to get in touch!