The terms short and long-form content gets thrown around a lot in the realm of the internet but if we were to clearly define and differentiate both type of content. Then it becomes much harder to discern between the two.
For instance, if we were to describe, how many word counts define long-form content. Then we will notice that there is no particular amount of words that will fulfill those criteria. For some content creators, 1000 words might be long and for some, it may be short. This same principle can be applied to the viewers as well. Due to these many experts consider long-form and short-form as more of beliefs rather than any specific word count. The word count can also vary according to the type of content and subject.
Now let us transition into the social media platforms instead to understand this phenomenon better. In a nutshell, the rise of short-form of content and marketing sounds likes a great deal but we have to look at the underlying challenges and opportunities that come with it. Tik-Tok, Instagram, and many other platforms have become quite popular but somehow YouTube still manages to be relevant. Why is that?
One of the biggest strengths of YouTube and its encouragement of long-form of content is the higher level of engagement. Long-form of content is easier to monetize, instead of one ad banner in a one-minute video a creator can add multiple advertisement banners in a 20-minute video. Advertisers prefer that and so does the platform, this also incentivizes the content creator to make long-form content. In the advent of the pandemic, many platforms that focused on short-form content have suffered. An example of this is ‘Quibi’, which started as a Netflix alternative on the go, and many people were not traveling and restricted to their homes due to the restriction and lockdowns. The relevance of Quibi shifted to a very volatile situation. Because when a person is at home, he/she prefer to watch a full episode instead of a brief version of that content. We cannot determine the exact failure of Quibi but it’s certainly one of the major contributors to this.
When does short content Work?
This is not to say that short-form content does not work, because the popularity of platforms that cater to short-form content is thriving especially when it comes to images and short videos. This means that it’s very crucial to determine the target audience. Although Tik-Tok and Instagram might not have the original content and monetization possibilities as compared to YouTube. They are still the go-to platforms for many new creators and numerous advertisers.
But things are a little different when the content is in written form. It’s also essential to understand when the short-form content works and when it does not. For instance, Buzzfeed focuses on large volumes of shorter content. Another thing to keep in mind is that multimedia is an integral part of Buzzfeed content and sometimes the content only acts as a supplementary shell for their multimodal content.
Due to a busy work-life balance, people tend to have less time to spare, and short-form content seems like the right choice. It also works well on mobile application platforms. Applications like ‘inshorts’ and ‘dailyhunt’ have perfected the short-form content delivery. While working on short-form content, there are a few more prerequisites that are necessary. For example, the content needs to be on point and needs to convey the whole story succinctly. To keep the engagement the need for multimedia inputs also becomes more important. Due to the digital transformation of the news, the time cycle of news has become compressed, readers demand any kind of news instantly and news is now consumed in binges.
Things to keep in mind and is it good or bad?
Short-form content also requires short-form marketing. This is a challenging area where advertisers are trying to keep the users engaged but they also have to ensure to not annoy them with on the face and bombastic ads. This is one area that is still not well received by the consumers.
There is no particular answer to the question if the rise of short-form content is good or bad. This all depends on the context of the problem. While designing and creating the content, the writer will have to determine the target audience. This essentially solves half the problem. There is a demand for short-form content but this is more relevant concerning video and photo content sharing. Written short-form content needs to be accompanied by multimedia to make it enticing. While the heading needs to be attractive but overly clickbaity headings should be avoided. The epidemic of fake news in instant messaging platforms like Whatsapp has left a sour taste in people’s mouths.
Many predicted that desktops will be wiped out as smartphones arrive but desktops are still relevant and even though a mobile-first strategy is preferential, almost every major website still offers a desktop equivalent to their mobile counterparts. The reason is simple, less bounce and significantly higher average time on the site.
The same can be applied to the long-form content, with long-form content there are more possibilities compared to short-form content. There can be additional content and features like good or bad, or pros and cons, just like I’m doing here! Various examples, references, graphs, etc can be complimented to the content. It also becomes easier to organize content with numerous subheadings to make content much more intelligible. This is not to say that the longer the content is necessarily better because sometimes long-form content results in a point of diminishing returns. In many cases, the topic and subject are much more important than the form of content. Content relevance, internal linking structure, User Experience design, pictures, videos, and the quality of a website or application are very important as well.
In conclusion, we can say that both short-form and long-form of content are relevant, the only catch is to determine which type of content applicable in that particular situation. Short-form content platforms have seen a huge surge of popularity but on the contrary, marketing and monetizing of short-form has their own sets of problems that are needed to be addressed.