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Shortform vs longform video content

21 October 2020

When starting a video project, one of the first things we need to understand is the duration. How long do you want the content to be and when do you need it by? These factors will influence our approach to a project, for example, from how we think about the audience, to the way in which we direct the talent or participants, and the visual style we decide on. They may also have a bearing on the duration required to film or post-produce the work. So what’s the difference? Google defines Shortform videos as being under 10 minutes and longform videos as anything over 10 minutes. (Source: Google Ads). Let’s consider a few important questions both before thinking about the debate of shortform vs longform video content.

Channel

Where are your audience? Where are people going to watch the content? How do you plan to keep your audience engaged?

Call to action

What do you want your audience to do?

Demographic

What is your target demographic? If you want to reach a large demographic then shortform bitesize content might be the best way to go about this.

Shortform is key to stopping users on social media from scrolling with something that they are immediately engaged by. And it is true to say that the majority of the content we create is less than 3 minutes in duration. Marketers tend to think that video content needs to be shortform, a fact that is due to an overwhelming consensus of opinion that users’ attention spans are akin to that of goldfish. However, it’s not that simple or straightforward. Rather than the attention span that’s the problem, it’s more to do with the amount of competing visual sources that users experience online. This leads us to conclude that shortform is the only way to reach people. But that’s not always the case at all.

Longform content can provide serious value to your brand. Episodic longform content can help create brand loyalty, it can inform, educate, entertain and inspire your audience. This kind of deep level engagement is simply not always possble with shortform video. Livestream video is one example of longform content that has great advantages: it’s enabling clients to engage viewers for a much longer durations. During the pandemic the events we have worked on are all hybrid events. Instead of taking place in a physical space they are taking place live and online. This means that our clients are keeping their audiences engaged and giving them great experiences with it. Finally, longform content can educate and inform your audience who want a deeper dive into a subject. When we want to learn something new, we go online.

At Spellbinder, we produce both long and short-form video content. Often the two go hand in hand – it’s not a question of shortform vs longform content but how best to create shortform content out of the longerform video.

Stop thinking about shortform vs longform and start combining the two!

One of the things we pride ourselves on is maximising the ROI for our clients. We are always trying to think outside the box to give our clients an amazing experience and video product. One of the key things in our ethos is that we do not accept the bare minimum. If we think there is value to be added in offering cut down versions of an edit then we will offer them.

Drive traffic to your long-form content.

Your audience can be targeted effectively on social channels and driven to your longer-form content via a quick call to action. This is a brilliant way to reach a wider audience with your shorter clips and target and capture your target audience. Perhaps the shorter clips will be aimed at a broader audience or maybe the opposite, at a more specific one? Importantly, in either case, we can target a different demographic to the main content. We can create edits that are aimed at a younger audience for Facebook and shorter edits that are targeted at your older demographic on YouTube or LinkedIn.

Audio as well as video.

Podcasts are one way you can expand your content beyond your video. When you record video you’re recording audio so why not release a full length audio podcast of your long-form content? Podcasts can easily be episodic in structure so you might be able to create a mini-series of 4 or 5 podcasts from your longform videos. These are also great for SEO.

Creating a highlight cut.

We are experts in creating highlights packages. One expansion of this idea might be to create a behind the scenes or BTS movie.

It’s all about working out the way in which you can maximise the viewership, reach and longevity of your content. Clearly, there are some videos that will not work as longform content and some subjects or video types that do not lend themselves to shortform. Thinking about some of the key questions and values of your brand and your audience will help us understand which. We want to maximise your ROI and return on effort. The majority of our projects now have multiple video deliverables. If we are commissioned to create a 2-3 minute video we are nearly always also delivering ‘microform’ versions of anything between 6 seconds and 60-90 second durations. On top of this we also properly optimise these verisons for their relevant platforms. We can create videos in 4:3 / 9:16 and 16:9 aspect ratios depending on the platform.

Want to explore the approach for your next project? Drop us a line today and let’s chat.