Long-Form vs Short-Form: What’s the Difference?

As you start to curate your own content plans and digital marketing plans for the rest of 2020 and beyond, you’re probably wondering what kind of content you should use. We already know that your content should be high-quality in order to best benefit your marketing strategy. No matter whether you prefer blog posts, emails, social media posts or articles, you should strive towards creating top-tier content at all times.

You may have previously focused on staying consistent and ensuring you post monthly, weekly or even daily, depending on where you’re posting. However, you might start to wonder which length you should be using within your content posts – whether they’re on Facebook, Instagram or your own website.

That’s where short-form and long-form content come in! We’re going to discuss the benefits of using long-form vs short-form content, including the definitions and desired applications of both forms. Hopefully, you’ll learn how to tell when to use short form and long form content for your own business!

Short-form Content

As its name implies, short-form content is all of the brief snippets, often seen as ‘easily digestible’ content. 

The length of short-form content can vary wildly. Some claim that it should be around 200 words, but we believe it sits at a length of between 100 – 1,000 words, and is often on the shorter side of this spectrum when used on social media platforms. As a general rule, anything over 1,000 would be considered long-form content.

Some examples of short-form content include status updates, tweets, story highlights, event reminders, short videos, infographics, short blog posts, snippets and more. It’s bite-sized, snackable content.

The purpose of short-form pieces of content is to keep things simple and understandable with your prospective audience. Short-form content often focuses on one idea, which is quickly explained. In some instances, you may not need to create a long narrative in order to get your brand or product noticed. 

Some of the benefits of short-form content include larger readership, more consistency (if planned well), faster completion and read times, mobile-friendly content, higher engagement and lower costs per piece of content.

The drawback to this form of content is that it doesn’t involve a deep engagement from the audience – meaning that the boost of traffic that you gain from this kind of content can be short-lived if you only rely on short-form content. Short-form content is also not as search-friendly as long-form content.


Long-form Content

There’s no hard limit or set rule for the word length that constitutes long-form and short-form content. As we’ve already mentioned, long form content is generally anything over 1,000 in length. Some even believe that long-form only starts at 2,000 words or more, which is not uncommon for digital marketers.

Some of the most popular kinds of long-form content include blog posts, whitepapers, long-form articles, e-books and guides. 

The main benefits of using long-form vs short-form content include providing keyword-rich content, increased backlinks, an improved search engine ranking (read more on SEO blogging), social sharing, improved web traffic, improved social shares, and a sense of authority, credibility and retention for your audience. That’s a lot of wins!

The downside to long-form content typically involves its higher cost when compared to short-form content, inconsistency (only if badly planned!), a large amount of time needed for each article and slightly less mobile-friendly content. Today’s fast-paced lifestyle has also meant that we’ve all got decreasing attention spans, so your long-form content needs to be top-notch and highly relatable in order to gain your audience’s attention.


When should you use long form vs short-form content?

This can be confusing, because you may think that one type is better than the other. The real thing you need to consider is your marketing intention and the purpose of your content. Neither kind beats the other, but will provide varying benefits when used in specific situations. 

Short-form content is great for:

  • Selling inexpensive/common products or services. Your products could benefit from a direct, more punchy description instead of something too lengthy and time-consuming.
  • When your brand is well-established and your audience are already familiar with the products and services you offer. Your audience is looking for precise, simple information to help them make a purchase. They don’t have time for unnecessary details.
  • When you are interacting with existing customers or strong leads. They’re already wanting to purchase from you, and they have determined what sets you apart from other businesses. They are likely looking for specific information relating to a certain product or service that you offer.
  • When you need to write for specific formats, such as PPC ad campaigns, social media ads such as Instagram/Facebook, or email subject lines.

This might shed some light on the ‘battle’ between long-form vs short-form content. However, long-form articles and long-form blogs should still be considered top contenders! 


Long-term content shines when:

  • Your audience is in the beginning stages of their customer journey with your brand and has little knowledge about your business offerings.
  • You offer high-end products/services that are quite pricey for the average person.
  • Your products or services need a higher level of commitment from your customers before they make a purchase.
  • Your brand is new or you are launching a new product/service/feature. Long-form content allows you to portray detailed information about what your business offers and how you can add value.
  • Your product is technical and needs expensive descriptions or details, such as specifications.
  • You focus on B2B sales, which often involves a complicated purchasing cycle.

You’ll need to take a look at what you’re trying to achieve before deciding whether long-form articles or short-form tweets are the right kind of content for your business intentions. Short-form and long-form content can be used harmoniously to create an even better content strategy.


Still confused?

Some things to consider when deciding on your content-length include:

  1. How much do your customers already know about your business offering?
  2. How interested are your readers?
  3. What kind of resources can you make available for creating content?
  4. What do you want your customers to do? How can you embody this through your content? 
  5. How will you use your content to align with your business goals?

 These can help you really hone in on what your business needs are in terms of content creation.


Last thoughts

When looking at the battle of long-form vs short-form, there isn’t a clear winner. The way to resolve which form you need is to take a closer look at which stage of the buyer’s journey you need to focus on. You will also need to determine how this aligns with the sales funnel for your product, and what your audience already knows about your product.

If your business or products are new, you can truly benefit from long-form content, such as long-form articles, blog posts, guides or even e-books. On the other hand, a concise email is a prime example of stellar short-form content. The key to an interesting content strategy is varying the word length that you use and the kinds of content that you share with your audience. 

We think that it’s great to benefit from both forms of content – there’s no reason why you can’t have the best of both worlds when it comes down to perfecting your content strategy and planning.