You know you should be investing in content marketing to build brand awareness, educate your customers, and showcase your authenticity. But do you know what kind of content you should be creating? There are several differences between short-form and long-form content, including when and where it’s best to use them. Learn more about short-form content vs. long-form content in our content marketing guide below!
- What Is Short-Form Content?
- What Is Long-Form Content?
- What to Keep in Mind When Choosing Content Length
- When Should You Use Short-Form Content?
- When Should You Use Long-Form Content?
What Is Short-Form Content?
Short-form content is typically content that’s under 1,200 words (for text-based content) or under ten minutes (for video-based content). It includes anything from infographics and blog articles to videos and social media posts. One of the major reasons why content marketers utilize short-form content is because it’s easier to create and can share a message with an audience quickly.
Easier to Consume
Modern consumers spend more than ten hours a day consuming media of all kinds on multiple devices, much of it by skimming. In addition, many online audiences don’t have time to read a whole blog post or watch an entire video just to get quick information. Because consumer attention spans are often divided by the sheer amount of information available online, this is where short-form content can shine in your content strategy. Short content can be viewed and absorbed in minutes, if not seconds.
Online audiences may not always remember your long-form creation in its entirety—or they may forget the brand that produced the content to begin with—which can be problematic if you’re trying to establish brand awareness. Since creating brand awareness relies on relatability and emotional appeal, you might find that a shift toward short-form content with videos and social media posts can help you stay in the conversation more frequently while also leaving a lasting impression in a shorter time span.
Consumers report spending an average of five to six hours each day on a mobile phone, making mobile content a major component of everyday life. In many cases, those viewing content on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets are more likely to engage with short-form content, as it’s easier to skim and consume on smaller mobile screens. This is especially true with short-form video content like Reels and Tik Toks, which were designed with mobile device viewing in mind.
Faster to Produce
If your content marketing strategy relies on swiftly creating content, short-form is your best bet. Most short-form content is less resource-intensive than long-form work, and it can be turned around quickly, which means it’s ideal for quick strategy shifts. Additionally, certain short-form content—like videos under ten minutes—have the highest return on investment (ROI) for most digital marketing strategies.
What Is Long-Form Content?
Long-form content is typically content that’s over 1,200 words (for text-based content) or over ten minutes (for video-based content). It includes anything from blog articles and infographics to social media posts and videos. For content marketers, long-form content is one of the best options for search engine optimization strategies and demonstrating topical authority.
Better for SEO
In most cases, long-form content is the way to go if you want your website to rank well in search engine results pages (SERPs). There are a few reasons why long-form content performs better. For one, it’s easier to target and optimize for a broader list of keywords, which can help search engines understand and index web content for relevant searches. Long-form content can also garner more backlinks and social media shares, which shows search engines that your content is valuable and interesting to online audiences. And it can boost website traffic and overall time on page, both of which are positive signals for search engine rank.
While length doesn’t always equal wisdom, longer content is generally considered to be more trustworthy and authoritative. This is because long-form work usually requires more time and effort to create. In addition, long-form content offers online audiences more in-depth information to engage with, which can help showcase expertise on a specific topic or within a certain field or industry.
Quality Over Quantity
In general, long-form content prioritizes quality over volume. For short-form content, volume is important because the content is often more timely and needs to be produced quicker. But creating lengthier content requires more strategic thinking, in-depth research, and conscious formatting. Content marketers have to think about how long-form pieces will tackle multiple ideas or concepts at once, while also ensuring that content is easy to navigate and provides helpful information for audiences.
More Presentation Options
Because long-form content takes up so much more space than short-form content, there’s actually more opportunity to play with how content is presented. For example, long-form work can be repurposed or broken out into topic clusters. You can even combine audio and visual aspects of content in a single long-form piece, blending text, graphics, videos, and other interactive elements to break up the information.
What to Keep in Mind When Choosing Content Length
Before you go all in on short-form content or long-form content for your digital marketing strategy, there are a few considerations you need to think about, including your audience, goals, and competitors.
Your audience is the most important factor when weighing the pros and cons of short-form vs. long-form content. Which type of content do they engage with more? What information are they searching for? What keywords are they using to discover your content? What do they think about the content you’re currently putting out? Studying audience behavior via website analytics, heatmapping, social media listening, and keyword research can help you answer these questions and strategize effectively.
Before deciding on a content format or publishing schedule, you’ll need to determine and outline what your content strategy is meant to achieve. Are you trying to build up your brand reputation? Do you want to rank well in search engine results? Are you hoping to increase conversion rates on your website? Depending on your marketing goals, short-form or long-form content (or even a combination approach) could be needed.
Knowing what your competition is doing can set the stage for your content marketing efforts and help you decide whether short-form content or long-form content is best for your marketing strategy. Conduct a competitor analysis on a regular basis to see what kinds of content your competition is putting out, how long each piece is, how frequently content is posted, and what content tactics they’re using to reach audiences.
When Should You Use Short-Form Content?
You should use short-form content if your business goals are to:
- Produce content quickly
- Post a large quantity of content promptly or on a pre-set schedule
- Create a mobile-friendly website
- Be remembered by your audience
- Be accessed by mobile device users
- Increase engagement
- Communicate a single or simple idea
You might also consider using short-form content if your audience prefers to:
- Skim a piece of content
- Engage with a short-form video for education or entertainment
- Stay up-to-date with local, national, or international news
When Should You Use Long-Form Content?
You should use long-form content if your business goals are to:
- Drive organic traffic to a website
- Increase inbound links
- Increase conversions
- Rank higher in SERPs
- Keep your audience engaged
- Build authority on a specific subject
- Build trust with your customers or online audience
You might also consider using long-form content if your audience prefers to:
- Research a topic
- Consume in-depth information about a topic
- Find an expert on a certain topic