Short-form vs long-form video - which is right for your business? 


There’s been much debate about whether short-form or long-form video works best. Or if longer form content is better or worse than shorter blogs and snappy social media posts. The real answer is that both work well. It depends entirely on what you’re trying to achieve with your campaign. 

Short-form and long-form video both have a place in a successful digital marketing strategy. Knowing which one to use and when is what’s important. Content with context is the key here. 

In this week’s blog we aim to give you a better understanding of what works, when it works, and why it works.

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What is short-form video?

Short-form video is classed as anything that’s under ten minutes long. Think of the video content you’ve consumed recently. That four-minute Jamie Oliver video about making scrambled eggs three ways. That two-and-a-half-minute trailer for the next Netflix series you plan to binge. That six-minute Joe Wicks work out you sweated along with? These are all examples of short-form video. 

The majority of video content you’re most likely to consume on social media is even shorter, and is known as ‘snackable videos’. Think Instagram stories and TikTok posts. 

When does short-form video work best?

The sweet spot for short-form video tends to fall under the two-minute mark. This makes the content easy for audiences to digest and doesn’t require a large amount of time investment from the viewer. 

When short-form content is done well, it’s likely to be entertaining, and this motivates your audience to click the share button. This results in short-form video going viral much quicker  than longer form. This doesn’t mean that long-form content won’t go viral, but more on that later. 

Be visible

You know what they say; out of sight, out of mind. Short-form content keeps your brand visible to your audience. Short-form content serves as a way to keep reminding your audience that you’re there. 

During the COVID-19 crisis, short-form content has been a fantastic way for brands to let their customers know that they’re still open for business. Take Dominos for example, they put out a thirty-second recruitment video to let their audience know that they were still open, still delivering food, and still recruiting. Three birds, one pizza. 

Tap into trends

Short-form content works well when you’re creating content that’s reactive to trends and events. It’s important that you’ve got your finger on the pulse, and short-form content allows you to move fast to engage with an open audience. 

Going back to snackable videos - these don't cost a lot (if any) money to create. For the investment it takes, you get lots of return. Think about it - you can create a TikTok video on your iPhone and easily publish the same content over on Instagram. This way you can reach different audiences, with the same content, in a very short space of time.

So, what about long-form content?

As consumable as it is, short-form content on its own isn’t enough to get your message across. When it comes to really enhancing your engagement, start thinking of short-form video as your building blocks, and long-form content as the cement that holds the whole thing together. 

Long-form video content often comes in the shape of webinars, more in-depth how-to videos, and playbacks of events. The production value of this content is often of higher quality than your everyday Instagram story and there’s no doubt that it’s a bigger investment

You’re often likely to see this kind of video appear in a series. It  does a brilliant job at keeping your audience engaged and is an effective way to tell your brand story. 

Give your audience value in return for their time

Long-form video works best for brands that have a story to tell. If a brand has a deep-rooted mission that’s at the heart of everything they do, then this allows them to create longer pieces of content that resonates with their audience. 

Due to the story-telling nature of long-form video, you should be considering a more subtle approach towards your call-to-action. If your longer videos are merely a sales pitch, get ready for people to switch off. Boredom isn’t an option when it comes to your brand. Content isn’t all about selling, but is all about engagement.

The key to creating effective video content in its longer form is to keep it educational and entertaining. Basically, your long-form video needs to add value to your audience. You’re asking them for a time investment; they’ll want something back in return.

Goldfish memory

It’s been argued time and time again that our attention spans are dwindling in the age of social media. Humans having the attention span of a goldfish might make a headline, but it doesn’t explain why people continue to spend more time playing video games. Let’s not forget that one of the most successful Netflix films, the Irishman, was viewed by 26 million accounts in its first week. The Scorcese film clocks in at three and a half hours long. It’s certainly not short-form.

The paradox of choice

It could be argued that the reason why people believe that our attention spans are getting shorter all comes down to the simple fact that we have more choice. This means your content needs to be engaging and well made if you hope to have success with your longer creations. 

Is it because of this attention span misconception that brands steer away from creating longer videos? According to research, videos that are 15 minutes or longer account for 50% of video engagement, but only add up to eight percent of all video content produced. That’s some serious food for thought!

Value leads to your audience sharing your content

You’ll remember at the start of the blog we talked about how short-form videos tend to go viral quickly and easily. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t create a shedload of traction with longer content. In fact, a study has shown that when it comes to blog posts, audiences are more likely to share a longer post vs a shorter post. Perhaps it’s not so surprising when you consider that if you find value in something, you’re more likely to share it. 

Winning combinations

So, to answer the question; Short-form or long-form video - which is right for your business? The real answer is that it’s very likely going to be a combination of both. You can use your short-form content to promote your long-form videos, and both forms have their place within the majority of marketing campaigns. Keep your long-form video content valuable and relevant and it will be just as effective as an eight-second video. The end game is to get more people talking about your brand, to build brand awareness and loyalty. 

If you want engagement, be authentic

Create content that gets your message across in the strongest way possible. Know what you want to say to your audience and how you want them to feel. Great content doesn’t have to cost the earth. Be creative. Think of short-form as the way to make a quick win, keep the content light and entertaining. Long-form is your chance to get your audience fully engaged with more authentic, well-thought-out content. 

If you’re thinking about ways to get your message across to your audience effectively and clearly, speak to Bobble Digital about how we can work with you to get your strategy up to scratch. Get in touch with us today to discuss how we can help you create more engagement with your content. 

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