Is Long-Form Content Making A Comeback?

Nov 08, 2023

Social Media Marketing News

Is Long-Form Content Making A Comeback?

Prior to TikTok and Instagram decreasing attention spans, we were once captivated by 20 minute YouTube videos and lengthy blog posts on this, that and the other. Fast forward and it’s now seemingly more difficult to grab a user’s attention for any longer than 15 seconds. (Unless it’s the John Lewis Christmas ad. We’ve always got time for that.)

Needless to say that marketers have their work cut out for them as they attempt to squeeze several month’s worth of prep work into a 15-second ad. But does this mean they should be neglecting long-form content entirely? If not, what’s the protocol for adopting a long-form content strategy in a short-form world? 

On average, long-form content attracts 77.2% more clicks than shorter articles, meaning the demand for the lengthy blog posts is still out there. If the demand for long-form articles is still out there, then so must be the demand for long-form video content.

In fact, we know there’s still a demand for long-form content as statistics show 56.6% of YouTube’s audience to be made up of Gen Z and Millennials—the generations typically associated with short-form’s pioneering movement. Given this information, new questions now arise asking why long-form content strategies have been back-seated when they clearly still retain effectiveness in audience-targeting. 

And it doesn’t end with YouTube demographics. 

As of late, social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram have been subtly switching things up to increase their compliance with the features of long-form content. As platforms most commonly known for pocket-sized tidbits of information and entertainment, TikTok and Instagram have increased their video length capabilities to rival the likes of YouTube and draw in audiences whose preferences skew heavily toward prolonged content. 

Armed with this knowledge, we wonder whether long-form content even needs to make a return, as it appears it was never dead.

Can long-form content exist in a short-form world?

For an extended period of time, it seemed much of the socialsphere aspired to follow in the footsteps of TikTok and Instagram Reels. Even YouTube launched its very own YouTube Shorts feature to keep up with the demand for short-form content. 

But now? It seems the tables have turned. 

TikTok—once known for its minute-long content—has offered users 10 minute videos for some time, and is soon increasing this to 15 minutes.  To some, upping video length on a platform built for pioneering the short-form content movement is seen as illogical. If social media users want long-form content, why don’t they just head over to YouTube? But given TikTok’s more diverse user base and access to unique features for creators, it seems a more viable option for brands to run a long-form content strategy here. 

So what exactly should marketers be doing to ensure the success of a long-form content strategy in a short-form world?

Rather than seeing the two as separate entities, success is more easily attainable for those who see short-form as an accompaniment to prolonged content. Think about how many times you’ve scrolled through your TikTok FYP to find snippets of podcasts and longer videos made elsewhere. These bite-sized pieces of entertainment hold your focus for just enough time to persuade you to go and explore the rest on either Spotify or YouTube, for example. 

Podcasts have become particularly popular among online users due to their passive nature allowing us to multitask whilst listening. More recently, the increase in demand for users to physically see the podcast whilst it’s happening has appeared also—securing long-form content as a desired format. This is where harnessing the power of short-form’s captivating capabilities can be beneficial to advertisers looking to increase the reach of their podcasts. Rather than aiming to promote the entire podcast on YouTube, creators should look to cutting out its highlights and cross-promoting the content on Instagram Reels, TikTok and YouTube Shorts with a CTA and readily available link to the full piece should the user wish to explore further.

long-form content strategy: podcast snippets

Similarly—for those who don’t create podcast content—taking to YouTube Shorts to promote and tease your longer videos on the platform is another great example of using short-form content to better a long-form content strategy; particularly because Shorts gets 50 billion daily views. The Remix feature even allows for long YouTube videos to be turned into a Short up to 60 seconds in length, providing viewers with the perfect overview of a video without having to sit through the entire thing. In addition, YouTube Shorts also allows creators to link to the longer video in question within the description of the Shorts video, increasing click-throughs and therefore more long-form content consumption. 

long-form content strategy: YouTube Shorts trailers

Can long-form content make it solo any more?

The good news is that platforms like YouTube and Twitch which serve long-form content, such as vlogs and live streaming, will never falter. 

The bad news is that they no longer hold the same power and resonance when flying solo through the socialsphere as they once did before the short-form boom. However, that’s not to say platforms hosting long-form content have given up. 

The full rebranding of platforms like Patreon is pioneering the shift in focus back towards prolonged content thanks to the adoption of features such as a more streamlined accessibility process for fans looking to get their hands on their favourite creator’s music, writing, podcast episodes e.t.c, and ecommerce options for creators looking to sell it. Furthermore, this will increase the likelihood of social media users subscribing to long-form content—encouraging more focus on it due to a more frequent appearance in the digital world. 

Given that 55% of Gen Z’ers prefer short-form content, can marketers guarantee that their long-form content strategy will fall on welcoming eyes and ears?

Thankfully, yes. 

Whilst we know the socialsphere consists of a lot more than just Gen Z, this young generation are the target audience of many brands nowadays and so their preferences and opinions do matter if looking to attain online success. However, even this short-form-loving generation are beginning to crave more substance. 

Sure, TikTok videos and Instagram Reels provide optimal entertainment, but oftentimes they lack information and depth. This is something social media users are seeming to want more of. 

After all, how are they supposed to know Hailey Bieber’s skincare routine without a full, in-depth breakdown of products used and a tutorial to go with it? 

Longer form content allows creators to dive deeper into their niche topics, explore ideas and provide a better experience for their followers/viewers. Brands are then able to tap into this opportunity and place themselves at the forefront of their industry through thought leaders within it.

Our Influencer marketing agency and Social agency are located worldwide, with our agency network based in the USA, UK, UAE and China.

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@ Socially Powerful


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Ella Proctor

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