When to use Longform vs Shortform Video in Brand Marketing


The effects of technology and social media on our collective attention spans have been well documented. One such study by Microsoft indicating that the average human attention span has reduced from 12 seconds in 2000 to just 8 seconds in 2015 – less than that of a goldfish.

With just a few seconds to capture the attention of your audience, it can be tempting to assume that focusing exclusively on the production of short-form video content will help you to communicate core marketing messaging and nurture an engaged audience who are receptive to your content.

It’s not always that simple, however, as there will always be situations where long-form content can make an impact in ways that short-form content can’t and this is especially true of video.

Capitalising on short and long form video content means carefully setting out your objectives for each video before deciding on its format and length.

Short-Form Videos and Social Media

Short-form video content has been at the heart of many digital marketing discussions for the past few years. This type of content typically clocks in at anywhere between 15 and 60 seconds, however, platforms including Snapchat and Instagram have also made 6-second micro-videos extremely popular.

The immediately engaging nature of short-form video content means that it’s tailor-made for social media and mobile viewing experiences. Users scroll through social feeds rapidly, often when they are on the move, so remembering that time is at a premium is crucial for brands wanting to use video to engage audiences via social media platforms.

As the human brain can process visuals faster than text, research [2] indicates that the ideal length for video content on Instagram is 26 seconds. The visual nature of Instagram as a platform means that we scroll through feeds faster here than we do on any other social network or app. Twitter users are also accustomed to brevity so although video content here can be slightly longer, the ideal length is still just 43 seconds. Facebook users also like engaging with snappy video content, with 1-minute videos allowing users to obtain the information they are looking for before liking, sharing or scrolling on to view the next piece of content in their feed.

Statistics show that engagement on video content falls dramatically between the 90 second and 6-minute mark, so creating videos with a maximum runtime of 90-seconds will drive the best results if your primary objective is to make a solid impact across social media. This will give you enough time to increase brand awareness, capture attention, and channel leads into your sales funnel.

The efficacy of short form videos are driven not only by their quality and engagement but also by their frequency. Unlike long form content, this is content designed to grab attentions with short but arresting videos, helping you establish brand presence across a number of different films, leading people to seek out your YouTube channel and website and maybe discover your longer form content. Keeping production costs low, using templates and becoming super efficient will allow you to create a lot of this video content.

The Case for Long-Form Video Content

Many video marketers believe that long-form storytelling will shape the future of digital marketing. In 2017 Facebook modified its algorithm to reward longer videos and recent research indicates that videos longer than 90-seconds secure almost 80% more shares and approximately 75% more views than shorter video content. Google now also ranks long-form video content higher in search engine results pages (SERPs), which suggests that this type of content can also help you to increase your search visibility.

If your primary objective is to increase engagement in the form of views, shares and comments, long-form video content might be the best avenue to pursue because it is often perceived to be more trustworthy and authoritative. Invested audiences are eager to engage with comprehensive content that addresses their questions and curiosities and there are a variety of ways to produce engaging long-form content, including conducting live broadcasts, running interactive webinars and producing helpful product demonstrations and educational content.

So, while short video content is generally more effective at driving click-throughs, securing increased engagement is often easier with long-form video. Crucially, your approach to video doesn’t need to prioritise either long or short-form content. You can do both and succeed by creating smart 15, 30 and 90-second edits of longer content to share across different platforms and engage different subsections of your audience.

Tips for Creating Effective Brand Video Content

  • Know your audience and what you want to achieve. This will shape the form and the structure of every piece of content you produce.
  • Understand how your video content will be consumed and tailor your approach to specific platforms and subsections of your audience.
  • Identify how each piece of content fits into your wider strategy. Long-form content is most effective when you have earned someone’s attention, so trying to engage a user with a 15-minute video during your first interaction with them is unlikely to work.
  • Think about segmenting the different types of content you create using a system like the help, hub, hero system. This will help you understand your content better, separating the big budget hero brand films, from more frequent content designed to engage with existing followers and brand advocates.

There is a place for both short-form and long-form content in today’s digital marketplace. In addition to crafting engaging videos that prioritise authenticity over crude sales messaging, you should think about leveraging the a variety of different formats, styles and video lengths in order to not only reach new audiences but engage with existing ones. Think about the social platforms you will be using and whether your video will help convert first-time watchers into loyal viewers who are receptive to your content and messaging.

It can be difficult to capture attention online, but the potential rewards for doing this effectively are maximised if you can leverage the power of both long and short-form video content.