Short-Form vs Long-Form Video Content: Which Is Best?

Creating compelling video content, including informational content, entertaining videos, and also video ads, is extremely important and should be part of any business’s larger social media strategy. Video content can be divided into two general categories—short and long-form. Below we discuss which type of video content works best in different situations and compare the two.

What is Short Form Video Content?

Short-form video content generally refers to a video that’s anywhere from 10 to 60 seconds long. A short-form video form has become increasingly popular thanks to platforms like Instagram Stories and TikTok, as well Snapchat.

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Some major brands release short-form ads that are short as two seconds. The idea, no matter how long the video is specifically, is that it’s about being concise and bite-sized.

Benefits of short-form video content include:

We tend to have short attention spans. The media and companies can take advantage of this in some cases, but if advertisers and marketers aren’t accounting for the short attention we’re willing to give to something, then they can miss out on opportunities. Social media users often scroll right past a video if it doesn’t grab their attention instantaneously. With short-form video content, you’re making something that’s more likely to get attention fast.

You might be able to take advantage of repetitive views with a shorter video. If a video is around 10 seconds, for example, it’s easy for someone to watch it multiple times. If a video is longer, it’s not likely someone will make it through the entire thing once, much less multiple times. Repetitive views are important because it reinforces your branding and messaging.

Short-form videos are easier to create and require fewer resources.

What is Long-Form Video Content?

Long-form video content is, of course, longer versions of videos, but there’s more to it than that. Long-form video content can serve a variety of purposes, and it’s not something you’re going to use for advertising in most cases, while you would use short videos for paid social ads.

A long-form video example can include something like Ted Talks. Long-form videos are highly valuable to the audience, and they’re engaging.

This type of video isn’t best for creating brand awareness in most cases. Instead, it’s better to strengthen your brand to an audience that’s already aware of it and engage your current audience.
With long-form video, you can put more emphasis on the story you want to tell, and people need to opt-in to view this type of content. That makes it harder to get people to watch it.

Before you create longer video content, you want to think about the goals of the campaign and how well the length of your video is going to fit into those. For example, if you want clicks and completed views, long-form isn’t ideal. If you’re building brand loyalty, you might want long-form video content, which can necessitate real viewer attention. The most common definition for a long-form video is usually one that’s more than 10 minutes long, but like short video lengths, this can be up for interpretation.

What To Consider

As you compare making shorter or longer videos, the following are some of the things you might want to consider:

  • Who is your audience? The biggest guiding factor that you’ll need to use as you decide between short and long videos is what your audience is most likely to find engaging. You could find that if your audience is younger and they’re more drawn to Instagram, for example, they expect shorter videos. If your audience doesn’t like your videos, it doesn’t matter what their length is. If you’ve already created some videos, look at analytics to see which ones performed best, and think about what those might have had in common with one another. Don’t choose a video length or format because you think it’s the “right” thing to do. Choose it based first and foremost on your audience.
  • After thinking about your audience, consider the purpose of your video. Know what your goals are with making each piece of content and what you want to achieve. If your goal is to educate your audience, for example, you might have a longer video than if you want to share something funny and engaging.
  • The type of video is, of course, going to impact how long it is, as we’ve touched on a bit. If you’re creating a tutorial and you’re trying to speed through it and keep it short form, it’s not going to be so helpful for your audience. Event coverage, documentaries, or behind-the-scenes footage of certain things, and then tutorials all make good long content. Some interviews can too, depending on the subject matter. Shorter formats work well for product videos, company and brand cultural videos, and customer testimonials.
  • Your budget will be part of how you decide. The longer your video and the higher the production value, generally the more it will cost, although if you have good in-house capabilities, this may not be the case.
  • What marketing channels do you plan to use primarily? Where you’re going to share is going to impact your short vs. long-form decision. For example, on Instagram Reels, videos can only be around a minute long, while LinkedIn videos have a 10-minute max. If you’re using videos for your ads, you also have to find out what the platform limitations are. There are certain places where even if you want to, you can’t share long videos.

A good rule of thumb for most businesses is to create a good mix of long, medium, and short videos. Then you can start to experience and gather data and analytics to figure out what’s going to work best for your needs.

You can assess which lengths resonate best with your audience.

A lot of businesses find out that keeping up a good mix of lengths is optimal because they can cover their bases.

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