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High-quality video content is extremely powerful. For businesses wanting to drive tangible success in modern digital marketplaces, understanding how to produce engaging video it is arguably more important than ever before.

Research conducted by Wistia in 2016 highlights some notable video engagement statistics including:

  • 2-minute long videos are excellent engagement generators
  • A clear drop in engagement often occurs between minutes two and three
  • The period between minutes six and twelve of longer content are a prime opportunity to drive additional connection with your audience
  • As soon as your video content enters its twelfth minute, engagement levels will likely steadily reduce until the end

Importantly though, this research doesn’t conclude that every video you produce should be less than 120 seconds long. So just when is longer video content effective and why? Let’s take a closer look at the advantages and disadvantages of both short and long-form video content.

Short Video Content

Typically securing better engagement levels than its long-form counterpart, short content is also more likely to hold viewers’ attention for longer than ten seconds, which is proving to be one of the greatest challenges facing video marketers today.

Although claims that our attention spans are now shorter than that of a goldfish have been proven to be misleading, as humans we do have the tendency for short attention spans. Some fascinating research from Princeton University in 2018 shows that attention spans and perception isn’t a continuous experience but instead ‘pulses’ on and off, as we switch our attention every 250 milliseconds from what’s going on on-stage to the analysis taking place in our own heads. 

This fluid attention span has given us an evolutionary advantage and means that we are less likely to overlook things, however, it does make it trickier for marketers to hold attention spans for long enough to communicate key messages and information. This is where short-form content shines.

If you’re wondering how much can be said in such a short amount of time, you might be surprised at just how versatile short video content can be. You could, for example, use a short video to:

  • Highlight a specific topic, story or news article related to your business, emphasising a few key points that your audience will find particularly interesting
  • Condense a webpage into a snappy piece of engaging content to improve engagement metrics
  • Produce a creative advertisement that showcases your ethos and brand personality.
  • Create a quick how-to video that will help your audience to solve a very specific problem

You might find that you can’t communicate everything you want to in order to provide the most value to your audience, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t also pursue a short video content strategy. In fact, you can use it as an opportunity to highlight your long-form content by creating a teaser trailer that will give your audience just enough information to prompt them click through and engage. 

Shorter content like this can also be modular in format, with each video being just one part of series that examines a certain issue, topic, product or service.

Remember, audiences aren’t usually willing to invest their time into long-form content if they aren’t convinced from the outset that it will deliver enough value in return for their time. Short teaser content can work to reassure them that your content is valuable and won’t disappoint.

Pros of Short Video Content

Requiring less time and resources, short content is often quick and simple to produce. In addition to rapid turnaround times, you will find that you can produce a larger quantity of high-quality video content very efficiently.

As more people are likely to engage with short videos, your messages will be more likely to reach and resonate with larger segments of your audience.

Short video is highly shareable. This is important if increasing your reach is one of your core business objectives because 92% people who watch video on mobile devices also share video content with others.

Cons of Short Video Content

Working with a limited timeframe means that you will need to condense your communications accordingly, which could mean skimming over some of the detail that you might ideally prefer to include.

Short video simply doesn’t lend itself to every topic or style, so you likely won’t be able to adopt this approach exclusively.

Some creativity will be required to ensure that your short video content is both engaging and valuable. It is relatively simple to throw together a video with a runtime of under 60 seconds, but it’s challenging to deliver powerful experiences that your audience will remember.

Long-form Video Content

Video can be used in a wide variety of ways to meet key marketing goals, increase conversions, and propel your business towards core business objectives. So, although “as short as possible” is usually the default answer to the question of how long your video content should be, the actual answer is dependent on a variety of different things including the motivations behind your video content strategy.

Long-form video content is excellent for:

  • Capturing attention with niche topics
  • Building brand affinity and brand identity
  • Establishing your business as an authority within your industry
  • Creating emotional experiences that audiences will remember

Pros of Long Video Content

With no time constraints to worry about, the only things that will restrict the potential of your long-form video content are your budget and your creativity. Whether you want to showcase the behind-the-scenes of your business in an in depth day-in-the-life documentary or teach your audience how to change a tyre by choreographing an interpretive dance to music, the only thing stopping you is you.

As you have the time to provide a large quantity of information, long-form video content has the potential to make a significant impact on your marketing objectives long into the future, provided that it is well-produced. You will also have the opportunity to make a series of shorter edits of your final video for different platforms to increase your reach and drive additional engagement.

There are a range of ways to maintain your audience’s attention including Call To Actions (CTAs) and utilising these techniques wisely can successfully lead your viewers through the sales funnel and drive additional conversions.

Cons of Long Video Content

As you’ve got more time to play with, it goes without saying that you will need to invest more time into the planning and production processes to ensure that your final video communicates your core messages clearly and logically, in ways that are consistently engaging throughout. This generally means that your budget will need to be significantly larger to account for a longer post production process.

It is critical to remember that the only people who are going to watch a long-form video from beginning to end are those who are already particularly interested in what you do and what your content is about. As it is essentially impossible to appeal to your entire target audience here, you should instead work to target very specific buyer personas who are further down the purchasing funnel. Generally, this means addressing more niche topics in more depth. While you might not secure a large number of views with this content, long-form video does have the potential to drive a significant number of conversions if you have pitched it to the right audience. 

Front-loading key messaging is sometimes recommended to reach those viewers who aren’t going to watch the entire video, however, this can interrupt your narrative. Instead, focussing on telling the story in the way you want to tell it will often yield the best results.

Video has the power to drive success for your business in a variety of ways, but only if you are successful at communicating your core messages in ways that your audience find engaging. Put storytelling, engagement and quality at the forefront of your approach to ensure that both you and your audience get the most value from your video content.

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