Remember Vines? Those six-and-a-half-second videos that would play on loop over and over (and over and over) again? When Vine shut down in 2016, it didn’t take long for one of its creators, Dom Hofman, to announce a replacement. This replacement officially launched yesterday as Byte. Just like its predecessor, the app allows users to share six-second loop videos, which are available on iOS and Android. Where there’s no question of Vine’s popularity amongst Gen Z when it launched in 2012, Hofman faces tough competition with other video social media apps in 2020, with a billion users already on the 15-second video app, TikTok.
If you’re unsure which cultural generation you belong to (Generation X,Y, Z, Millennial etc), don’t bother even Googling it. There’s one simple question to determine it: Do you have TikTok? If the answer is ‘yes,’ then almost certainly you’re under 24, and are therefore Gen Z. Here’s another one too: What do you watch more, TV or YouTube? Because no one younger than 24 bothers with telly these days. The point we’re making is, younger people around the world are absorbing video content more than any other age bracket, and yet not on television.
And it’s not just with social media channels such as TikTok, YouTube and Byte, there’s the new kid on the block of streaming services, Quibi. Targeted at a younger audience, this new service that launches in April will offer TV shows that are just 15 minutes.
But why do those under 24 prefer short-form video content so much? Let us break it down.
On average, millennials have a 12-second attention span, which falls to a staggering eight seconds for Generation Z. Whilst we’re here considering what can be done in only eight seconds (seriously, you can’t even fill the kettle with water in that time), there’s someone younger making a video so short that it’s over before you can say ‘TikTok’. Six-second videos, therefore, conform to Gen Z’s attention span and lifestyle habits. The shorter the video, the more you can watch, the quicker you can move on to another and the easier it is to share. Let’s just hope they don’t treat prospective partners the way they treat their social media tools.
Even the most loyal Instagrammers will admit that its filters aren’t exactly avant-garde. Gone are the days where you spend 10 minutes staging a photo and a further five minutes deciphering whether to use Clarendon or Nashville as a visual effect. TikTok offers visual effects, filters and sound tools that allow you to add music to videos. Lip synching videos, challenges and meme creation have become a popular trend on the app. Byte, so far, don't have such editing tools, but Hofman has said they are working on an update.
User generated content (UGC) is what attracts Gen Z to video tools most of all. As a generation of interactive users, they want to be able to take part, and they want to be the star of their own show. Vine was the app to discover Shawn Mendes and Jay Versace, it introduced a platform for DIY talents, particularly in the comedy field. Such video sharing apps possess a different algorithm to that of Instagram, which makes it easier to be seen and go viral - a major plus for these Gen Zers, who all want a piece of the proverbial pie when it comes to online fame.
Where Byte may not offer the same tools to layer music over videos, it does offer users the ability to monetise their content - a feature which currently only YouTube can offer. Byte’s tagline is ‘creativity first,’ and in a statement has said it will “introduce a pilot version of our partner program, which we will use to pay creators. Byte celebrates creativity and community, and compensating creators is one important way we can support both.” How exactly these will be monetised, whether through ads on existing popular videos or via paid sponsorships is unknown.
The message here? Whether you're a natural comedian, enjoy pranks or looking to make some extra cash it doesn't really matter - if you want the glow of eternal youth, forget Retinol and download Byte, because when it comes youth it's true what they say: if you can't beat them, join them.