The whole ‘long form vs short form’ argument is nothing new.
For years, technology experts have pushed to find ground-breaking results to prove once and for all which form is the best for guaranteeing positive results and feedback. For me, it is hard to suggest that one form is better than the other. If you are smart enough, you can use both types of content to your advantage and still secure positive results.
Whether you’re talking about long form on live television or via video-on-demand, aiming your content at the right target audience is crucial. I recently read an article in Broadcast Now that honed in on this particular topic and I was rather shocked at a few statistics throughout the piece. For example, a 16-minute interview clip with former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis generated 10 times more traffic on YouTube than a shorter Facebook edit of the exact same discussion.
Why? It is quite simple. Unlike Facebook and other social media channels, people tend to visit YouTube with the intention of viewing. The video-sharing platform has blossomed into a haven for vloggers across the world, with tens of millions of people subscribing to follow their favourite makeup artists, online gaming professionals and much more.
Some of the more popular bloggers have also worked in television and the link between the internet and linear television has grown directly because of their work in both formats. You could argue that certain short form videos, often in the form of brief clips on magazine shows, are informing and influencing longer form content.
On the whole, the majority of people visiting YouTube head onto the platform for a specific reason; either to search for a video on a certain topic or to watch the latest clip on their subscription list but television applications are also linking back to the internet – it is a constant cycle.
For short form, social media is the place to be. According to Deloitte’s sixth annual Mobile Consumer Survey, 80% of adults in the United Kingdom own a smartphone. TV channels are now using social media as a method of driving consumers to their on-demand and catch-up services.
Whether that is by broadcasting brief clips from popular shows on their Facebook page or previewing the odd sporting moment ahead of a highlights show, this method brings consumers to the service. So, in a way, this type of short form content can be used by companies as a trailer or promotion to attract a wider audience.
Facebook, Twitter and other channels, including the more business-oriented LinkedIn, are perfect for short form content. The emotive nature of these networks, coupled with the ability to share footage with the wider world, is helping businesses to enhance short form. The repurposing of linear television content has become an important tool for developing market reach and awareness since the growth in social media and will often drive people to the originating linear channels to watch the full shows.
Jon Lawrence, editor of Channel 4 News, revealed that emotive content tends to perform better on Facebook, with more than 250 million views per month on the platform. This way of sharing short form content through social media channels is giving companies the chance to create a desire for people to keep up with their linear television offerings as well as to watch via catch-up platforms.
It is also worth noting that Click, a BBC show that covers news in the world of consumer technology, works in a similar way. At times, this show can be cut to very specific, subject focused clips in short form; these will often drive users to visit iPlayer to check out the programme in its entirety.
Snapchat is an interesting concept in this debate; mainly due to its unique nature. Instagram have attempted to emulate their success in a way but the former has found a niche idea in a congested technological world. They cover both short form, in their brief 10-second clips, and long form, in their ‘stories’ made up of multiple 10-second clips. If nothing else, they have shown that both forms can be effective, especially when used side-by-side.
Nowadays, YouTube is on another level. Long form, subject specific content has taken over the platform and it is easy to understand why. Blog posts such as this one and brief video clips, perhaps showing the latest world news or a post-match interview with a football manager, are perhaps more suited to social media channels.
For the best of both worlds, you can upload the standout moment of an interview to social media and then put the full form on your website, catch-up or on-demand service. At the end of the day, both long form and short form content are integral to success in their own ways… the sooner we realise that, the better.
About Alex McMahon
Alex is an experienced writer, working in the field of broadcast, media & technology.