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Short form vs. long-form videos: what’s the best format for your business?

Short form vs long form video content: Which format is the most effective for your video marketing campaigns?

Marketing Team
Video Marketing Short form vs. long-form videos: what's the best format for your business?


Short form vs long form video content: Which format is the most effective for your video marketing campaigns? There is no single answer: it all depends on your brand identity, campaign objectives, channels, and your target audience. But there are some fixed points.

Very short videos, the so-called “snackable” ones, are perfect for social networks and for attracting attention. Long videos, on the other hand, are an excellent ally when the goal is brand awareness and when you’re aiming for a sense of community with your customers. Whatever the case, you’ll always want to have the fundamental compass in mind: data analysis.

Short form vs long form video content: what’s the right length?

Video is the king of digital, and every marketer knows this. It’s an unrivaled tool in terms of capturing attention, adaptability, communication effectiveness, and stimulating audience engagement. But it’s not enough.

A winning video marketing strategy requires that you know how to choose the right narrative, with the right recipients, on the right platforms. And the first question to ask yourself, which is perhaps also the most basic one, is this: what is the right length?

In other words, is it short form vs. long form video?

Warning: the answers are by no means obvious. They depend on many different and intertwined factors. And there is no single format that’s absolutely better than another; it’s all about finding the right mix based on the context and your objectives.

But let’s proceed in order, focusing on 3 categories: very short videos (“snackable”), short form, and long form.

Very short videos: the strength of snackable videos

As we have already anticipated, this is the theme that we will focus on in this post: short form vs long form video content.

Let’s start with a broad and common definition: by short form video, we mean videos that are under 10 minutes in length, while long form videos are those that exceed this threshold.

We realize that these are rather broad definitions. Especially regarding the short form: for example, both an 8-minute gardening tutorial and a 15-second Instagram video can fall into this category.

And it’s immediately clear that, in our current digital ecosystem, the differences between these two formats are huge.

For this reason, we’ve chosen to keep so-called “snackable video content” separate and address it in this first section.

Snackable videos, as the name implies, are very short-lived, easy-to-consume content built to grab attention quickly and – most importantly – are easy to share.

In short, they are the perfect type of content for social networks: for Instagram stories and for TikTok in particular… also watch out for Instagram Reels that, after all, was born right on the heels of the overwhelming success of TikTok.

In this regard, it’s good to analyze some data:

  • Instagram stories are used by more than 500 million users every day (99firms.com).
  • One-third of the most viewed stories are posted by business accounts (techjury.net).
  • According to a recent survey, in the U.S., 96% of marketers plan to use Instagram stories in the near future (skai.io).
  • TikTok, a social network born in China in 2016 and based on snackable content, has already reached a monthly active user base of 1 billion people (cnbc.com).

So, let’s sum up this first section. A “snackable” video is usually very easy to create and publish (the “craftsmanship” is an added value, because it gives a sense of authenticity).

It’s an optimal format for social media. And it works perfectly to continually tease the attention of its users. Last but not least, with this type of content you can quickly insert yourself in current events, in a rapidly growing trend, in a sudden change of sentiment.

Be careful, though: snackable videos should be handled with the utmost care. They are very short, very easy to make, and have a great potential for diffusion and an immediate hold on the public. However, the risk is that of the boomerang effect, which on social networks is always just around the corner.

The advice, therefore, is to always include snackable videos in a broader video marketing strategy, without getting caught up in the rush for improvisation.

Short form: a format with multiple possibilities

We saw it above: short form videos are videos less than 10 minutes long. They range from a campaign teaser video to a movie trailer. From a music video on YouTube to a step by step recipe instruction. And then tutorials, how-to’s, product reviews, and so many more.

In short, these are the vast majority of videos that we watch on YouTube!

But that’s not all. Short form videos, with their versatility, are also perfect for company websites or distributed through email marketing campaigns (much better if designed in a data-driven perspective…but we’ll come back to this at the end of the post).

Again, here are some tips to make your short form videos effective:

  • First and foremost, build a long-term strategy. Even more than for snackable videos, in fact, you can’t just ride the wave of the moment;
  • Optimize your videos according to the devices, channels, and platforms on which they are distributed (a suggestion that actually applies to all video formats, but it’s always good to emphasize it);
  • Always have a script in mind. Create an effective narrative – of course – but one that is also consistent with the image of your brand; and pay the utmost attention to the very first seconds: this is where a user decides whether to continue viewing or move on.

Last but not least: in video marketing, short videos are the perfect tool when the goal is to insert calls to action (of any kind) that can lead to conversions.

So: pay close attention to where you place these calls to action, make sure they are consistent with the rest of the narrative, and use analytics tools that allow you to get an accurate and detailed picture of the video usage. It’s critical to understand how many people are viewing, who they are, their characteristics and interests, how many make it to the end, how many abandon the view and at what point, and the click-through rates.

Having this information is the best way to continuously recalibrate your campaigns in order to make them more and more effective, depending on your goals.

Long form video: a fundamental weapon for building awareness and reputation

The digital ecosystem is an environment overloaded with stimuli, where the struggle for attention is the real challenge.

At first glance, in the choice of short form vs long form video content, the latter always seems to have the lowest attention rates. If we look deeper, however, things become more complex and more interesting!

Of course, if the goal is to get the most clicks, or to generate buzz and instant shares, a 20- or 30-minute video is not the way to go.

Yet, a long and curated production can be the best ally if you want to provide a high quality image for your brand or a single product.

To put it another way: the long form is one of the best allies for brand awareness.

But that’s not all.

Some long-form videos are perfect for creating engagement and establishing a sense of community between company and customers: think of interviews involving employees, contractors, or managers at any level.

Or think about webinars: a format that has had a big surge in popularity in the different stages of the pandemic.

Or, again, educational videos, Q&A sessions, and both live and recorded video conferences.

In this regard, it’s good to insist on one point: when you produce a long-form video, you must be aware that you are asking a considerable effort of attention from the recipient. Therefore, it is important to pay the utmost attention to all aspects: from the basic technical aspects (video and audio quality, above all), to those of editing and storytelling.

Beyond the duration: Let the data guide you

In conclusion, let’s reiterate a couple of points.

First: there is no ideal length for a video. It all depends on the brand identity, the objectives of the individual marketing campaign, the channels, and the target audience you have in mind.

Second: the best and most effective strategies are always those that manage to combine different formats, from snackable to long-form, while maintaining the right degree of unity, coherence, and relevance.

Lastly, here is one decisive aspect. Beyond the duration, there is another element that is essential for any successful video marketing campaign: data analysis.

It’s an element that acts both downstream and upstream, the starting point and the end point.

Data analysis is fundamental, first of all, to identify the recipients: no longer a single indistinct target to be hit with one-size-fits-all communications, but many increasingly specific targets to be intercepted with tailor-made communications.

Up to the frontier of personalized videos, which are taken care of by specialized platforms such as Babelee: in this way, the target ends up coinciding with the single person; everything, of course, in an automated way.

The other aspect for which data analysis is indispensable?

Evaluating results: understanding how the audience reacted, what worked, and what didn’t. From here it triggers a continuous improvement of their strategies that, after all, is what every marketer should aim for!

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