Short-Form vs. Long-Form Content: Which Should You Use?

How long should a piece of content be?

This is a question that hounds content creators every day.

Unfortunately, there’s no definitive answer, as short and long-form content are both useful in their own ways. It depends on a number of factors as to which you should use (I know that’s not the answer you wanted, but bear with me, it’s easier than it sounds).

Short-Form-vs-Long-Form-Content

First of all, what’s the difference between short and long-form content?

Short-form content is generally considered to be any content that’s around 1000 words or less. This includes things like blog posts, emails, infographics and social media posts.

The best thing about these types of content is that they appeal to your reader’s short attention spans. They’re easy to scan and don’t take up too much time to read. They’re also less time-consuming to create, which is a plus for you.

The bad thing about short-form content is that it risks not giving all of the information your customer is looking for and leaving them to find it elsewhere.

Long-form content, on the other hand, is generally considered to be any content 2000 words or over. Things like whitepapers, ebooks, and in-depth blog posts fall into this category.

Long-form content is good because it’s informative and helps boost your SEO as Google quite likes longer pieces.

The negatives, however, are that people don’t always have the time or the patience to read longer pieces, so you need to be sure that your audience is interested enough in what you’re saying to stick with you.

So how do you decide which type of content is best for you? Well, it all depends on a few different things.

what-are-your-goals

What Are Your Goals for The Piece of Content?

Knowing what you want the content to do is one of the first things you need to figure out before deciding on the length. Different goals work better with different lengths.

  • Do you want to reach a larger audience?

Then go for short-form content. This is easier to share on social media and is, therefore, more likely to be seen by more people.

Shorter content is also less time-consuming to create so you can make more of it in less time. A study by Hubspot shows that the more blog posts a company publishes in a month, the more traffic they’re going to get. So it makes sense that a higher volume of shorter pieces will result in a bigger audience. Just make sure you’re not sacrificing quality for quantity.

  • Do you want to show your authority in your industry?

Long-form content is the best way to do this. Longer content can give more information in one piece, so you can show your expertise in a given topic or industry easier than in short-form.

  • Do you want to sell a specific product?

A higher value item will benefit from longer content as customers will want as much information as possible before handing over large amounts of money.

Similarly, a newer product that your customer might not know much about will need to be explained more, so longer content is best here.

But a product your customers are already familiar with will need a lot less description, so keeping it shorter will keep them happy.

What Is Your Budget?

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How much money, time, and people-power you have will impact on the types of content you can create.

Short-form content obviously takes less time to create, so if you have a smaller budget or fewer people on your team then you should stick to these types of posts.

If you have more to invest, then it’s worth spending some extra time and money on longer content.

Where in The Sales Process Will the Content Be Used?

The length of your content can also depend on what part of the sales process it is going to be used in, and how much education the customer needs before they will commit to buying.

Someone at the beginning of the buyer’s journey is going to need more information than someone who already knows and trusts your brand. So longer, more informative content is needed at this stage to help build trust in your brand.

Whereas the person who knows your brand and is closer to actually purchasing will want much less content to wade through. Too much at this point risks boring them and putting them off buying altogether.

What Platform Will the Content Be Used On?

The platform you’re going to use will affect the length the content should be. Social media posts are short in nature, as are emails.

But if you’re looking to give away a freebie on your website then a longer ebook or whitepaper might be needed to convince someone to give you their details.

There’s no right or wrong answer as to what length a piece of content should be.  

But looking at all of these factors before you write will help you decide what length will work best for you and your customer.