marketing, video marketing, video content, long-form video, digital marketing
Over the past few years, we’ve seen a lot of praise for short-form content when it comes to reaching 21st-century consumers. From the 100-word blog post to the 10-second video, marketers have been trying to fit their messages into smaller and smaller time frames in the hopes that they won’t fall foul of ever-diminishing attention spans. Indeed, you’d be forgiven for getting the impression from all this that we can barely focus long enough to tie our shoes in the morning.
In this storm of quick-tips and quick-clips, you might be wondering why anyone would consider creating longer-form content. After all, if I barely watch a minute of video at a time, why should I expect my audience to watch more?
You might be surprised. There appears to be a change in the wind, and recent statistics are showing a definite trend upwards for longer content. We took a look at how this is evident in the popularity of blog posts a few weeks ago, with longer posts creating a higher rate of sales conversion, but the same is true for video marketing. Video creation platform Wotchit undertook several studies last year and noticed that users were not only viewing longer form video content in higher quantity as the year progressed, but their engagement rates with that long-form video content were almost 80% higher than on shorter videos.
Shorter content, of course, takes less time to create. It’s quick and easy to churn out short posts one after the other in the hopes of reaching more customers. The downsides, however, are that it’s impossible to go into any great detail with such little room, and these brief posts are easily drowned out and overlooked in a user's noisy feed.
Additionally, users are generally becoming smarter online and more readily able to avoid such “noise.” SEO statistics demonstrate a large increase in “long-tail searches” i.e. searches for longer strings of keywords that ask specific questions, in the hopes of finding specific answers. It is vital, therefore, that companies reflect this desire for detail in their content - and longer video can be a great way to do this.
So how can long-form video content work for your company?
1. It allows you to tell a story
Research has frequently shown that some of the most widely shared videos online are those that can inspire their audience and evoke an emotional response in them. Often, such videos also make use of real-life inspirational figures. This makes sense. We love a human interest story and are often moved when we witness someone’s journey to follow their aspirations through.
It’s true that some people are able to tell a powerful and interesting story in just a couple of minutes, or even a few seconds, but it’s incredibly difficult to do for most. A longer video can give you the space to really explore the tale you want to tell and include all the details that will resonate with an audience. Take outdoor lifestyle brand REI, for example. In 2016 they launched a documentary entitled ‘Paul’s Boots,’ which followed the journey of a pair of boots whose owner sought to hike the Appalachian Trail. He passed away before he could achieve this goal, but other hikers took up the boots posthumously to complete the trek.
The documentary of just over 37 minutes has received over 1 million views on YouTube, with many viewers commenting that it brought them to tears - an enthusiastically emotional reception that REI would likely not have been able to achieve if they'd condensed the story to 60 seconds. It’s an inspirational story that works best when told in a longer-form, and as a piece of content, it does a great job of increasing awareness for the REI brand to its target audience, building a relationship with them by connecting over the story of the boots.
2. It demonstrates your expertise
Consumers want to know that they’re buying a product or service from the best possible source. It’s vital to reassure your audience of your expertise and capabilities in order for them to put trust in your brand. Former dean of the Graduate School of Retailing at New York University Dr. Charles Edwards puts it simply when he notes that “The more facts you tell, the more you sell. An advertisement's chance for success invariably increases as the number of pertinent merchandise facts included in the advertisement increases.”
Take a look at financial planning firm Rockwealth, for example. The company champions an “evidence-first” approach to investing and focuses on encouraging others to do the same. In order to get their message out, Rockwealth created a 6-part documentary in partnership with Regis Media that examines the kind of evidence investors need to consider when beginning a venture. The series of longer videos not only prove to their audience that they’ve done their research, but also emphasises their brand as one with a genuine desire to be helpful and informative.
Long-form videos and series such as these can provide you with enough time to go into detail about your services and knowledge, answering those specific questions that customers are searching for and helping you stand out as a leader in your field.
3. It retains consumers for longer
Longer videos will take consumers longer to watch.
Obvious, yes. But hear me out:
If you are able to attract customers to your website with a longer video, this gives them significantly more time to notice what else is on the site. They might see some interesting links you have below that will tell them more about your products or become inclined to click on your ‘about’ page to find out more about your company. The more opportunities they have to build a relationship with your brand, the better.
Longer time spent on your website can also be helpful in terms of SEO. In order to rank websites on search results, Google’s algorithms attempt to establish how “trustworthy” sites are and promote the ones that are higher on this scale. If your visitors often spend a longer amount of time on your site, it’s more likely to be considered trustworthy and therefore more easily found in search results.
The rising popularity of long-form content doesn’t mean you suddenly have to quit producing shorter posts altogether, but it can be an effective way of adding some variety to your marketing strategy. A long-form video or video series is a big project to embark on for sure, but the deeper relationships you’ll be able to cultivate with your audience will be well worth the challenge.