The Inside Scoop on Content: What Works Best, and Why


July 7, 2021   |   Share:     |  

5 minute read

Short-form vs. long-form content – what’s the difference?? Well, if you’ve ever thought it’d be a great idea to pair your Insta post with a looong, drawn-out novel of a caption, this blog is for you. In this article, we’re breaking down how long your content should be for each platform. Let’s get started. 

What Is Short-Form Content?

Attention spans are shrinking. That’s no surprise. There’s more content than anyone can consume in a lifetime, constantly available at our fingertips. Your audience wants to absorb as much as possible as quickly as possible. That’s why short-form content tends to perform so well on social media and other organic digital platforms.

It’s widely available, visually pleasing, easy to digest, and provides instant gratification. There’s no extensive, dull learning process. Your audience has a question. You give them an answer. Done.

"60% of viewers drop off at 1 minute in the video, and 55% are watching off their mobile devices and making it easier to scroll to a new video if longer depending on the platform."

Green Buzz Agency

What Is Long-Form Content?

Long-form content is where you can really sink into your brand’s specific niche and show your audience what makes you different from your competitors. It’s not made for viewers who want quick content. Or those who only have a second to spare for you to get your message across. This kind of content takes time because it’s meant for your audience to spend some time with it.

Time is one of the most valuable assets a person has to give. So you need to make sure your long-form content is genuinely worthwhile. For example, if you’re going to present a tutorial or an in-depth article, make sure it accomplishes what you’re promising. The worst thing you can do is make your audience feel as though you’re wasting their time.

Valuable and well-produced long-form content is one of the best ways to build brand trust and prove that you’re legit. Sure, you say you’re the best real estate agent in your market, but what are you doing to enforce that? Find an angle your competitors haven’t and use it as a way to stand out. Your audience will appreciate the emotional experience you’re providing for them and will be much more inclined to turn to your business.

So, now that we’ve laid out what can be considered long or short-form content let’s talk about platforms!

Long-Form or Short-Form?? When To Use Which

Facebook

Short-Form for Facebook Ads | Short-Form for Copy | Long-form for Video

Unlike some other platforms, Facebook can cater to a variety of attention spans. Some viewers are interested in quick scrolls, while others enjoy falling deep into long-form rabbit holes.

When it comes to ads and general copy, it’s best to keep it short and snappy. As a rule, no Facebook caption should ever be over 1,200 words. (For reference, this blog post is roughly 1,300 words and no caption should ever be the length of an article.)

"In theory, if your content is useful viewers should be frequenting it and if you’re hitting the three-minute mark for runtime, it appears that you’ll be ranking higher and more frequently in newsfeeds."

Vin Gaeta
Managing Director, Impact

Three minutes gives you enough time to advertise campaigns and provide all the strategic reasons why your audience should use your product or service or learn more about your brand. Stories, however, should be at least 15 seconds to tease your Long-form content video.

Overall, the more you engage with your audience, the more likely it is that they’ll want to follow you, learn more, and eventually convert.

Twitter

100% Short-Form

This platform was designed specifically for short-form content and thrives off its fast-paced nature. When it comes to copy, long-form is actually impossible, as each tweet can only consist of 280 characters. It would take a massive thread to hit over 1,200 words. And even still, people most likely won’t engage with that kind of content.

Users aren’t going onto Twitter to spend minutes and minutes locked into one piece of content. It’s just not what the platform is meant for.

It’s an excellent way to showcase short teaser videos and link people out to longer-form content on your YouTube channel or Facebook. But in general, images work the best since people tend to breeze through their feeds.

In conclusion: keep it short n’ sweet.

INstagram

Short Form for Copy | Long or Short for Videos

Instagram content is a bit more flexible since there are so many different forms. At its core, Instagram has always been a very visual platform. So while copy is essential, it should always remain short-form to allow the videos or graphics to shine.

Stories are a killer way to get all kinds of info out quickly and easily. They only last 24 hours before disappearing and, regardless of how long your video is, it won’t play longer than 15 seconds due to Instagram’s time limit placed on stories.

Grid Videos are always 60 seconds or less, making them short-form.

IGTV’s are a recent addition to Instagram’s capabilities and can be up to 60 minutes long, which means they can be either long or short form. But most tend to be long-form.

Reels have only recently been added to compete with TikTok’s rising popularity. They are between 15-30 seconds in length, making them all short form.

In general, the length of your content on Instagram should reflect the goal you’re trying to achieve. Are you hoping to put out some easy-to-digest, sharable content? Then an image or short reel may be best.

But if you’re hoping to provide value or educate your audience with engaging content, long-form will be a better strategy.

YouTube

Long-Form for Videos

Going right to the source itself, YouTube claims that the “perfect” YouTube video length clocks in at 10-minutes. In fact, research has shown that the 10-minute video takes the lead in video rankings and is always in a higher position when compared to shorter-form videos. 

"Long-form (10+ minutes) videos covering keyword-specific topics tend to rank well in search engine results pages (SERPs). If you’re strapped for content ideas or want to capitalize on a trending buzzword in your industry, consider how you can do so through your YouTube channel marketing."

Brent Barnhart
Sprout Social

Based on the platform, it’s obvious why long-form videos outrank short-form ones. Users turn to YouTube for entertainment and education. They go in with a specific curiosity or question and are willing to spend the time needed to satisfy that desire. Sometimes even unlocking more questions and falling into hour-long rabbit holes. It’s not meant for lightning speed, zoned out scrolling. Instead, viewers tend to be actively watching, so the longer your content is, the longer you will have their attention… as long as you’re not boring them.

LinkedIn

Short-Form for Video | Short-Form for Copy

A professional networking platform at heart and often overlooked. LinkedIn is undoubtedly an organic social media heavy hitter. Businesses need to stay active on it if they want to recruit the best talent. Plus, it’s a great way to participate in some humble bragging and show off your accomplishments.

"Videos under 30-second showed a 200% lift in completion rates, and text posts under 210 characters perform the best and rack up the most post views."

VIN GAETA
MANAGING DIRECTOR, IMPACT

There ya have it!

It all may seem like a lot to keep in mind as you’re planning out content, but eventually, it’ll become second nature. And if you need a hand along the way to help you strategize and create content, there’s always INDIRAP! Hope this helps!

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