Short-form vs long-form content – Which is effective?

After reading tons of articles, researching online, speaking with your professional peers, you’ve come to the conclusion you want to invest in content marketing. Bravo! Pat on your back for taking the right decision. Your business will definitely bless you with dollar rains if you nail the content strategy right. Here comes the next paramount...

After reading tons of articles, researching online, speaking with your professional peers, you’ve come to the conclusion you want to invest in content marketing.


Pat on your back for taking the right decision. Your business will definitely bless you with dollar rains if you nail the content strategy right.

Here comes the next paramount question.

Did you decide you want to go with short form or long form content to promote your business?

Huh? Silence.

Knock-knock? Still no answer?

Are we the first ones to put this question in front of you? Did we just infuse that short form vs long-form content dilemma into your brain? Oops!

But we are happy we got you to think about it. Because the length of the content decides the success of content marketing. Yes, it is an important factor! The hard truth is no one has invented a decision-matrix formula to guide you on what the length of your content should be. We feel you – darn, one more monster in your way.

We’ve got your back. Dispelling the content length dilemma is on us. We’ll hand you a rifle loaded with bullets – facts, examples and suggestions – to take down that monster.

We promise!

So how would you quantify a content as short form or long form? Is there a well-defined metric? By tracing the trails of online content and digging into past success, experts broadly define the below categorization.  

A content type with 2000 words or more is considered as long-form content. Some of the standard long-form content includes how-to-guides, niche product explainer articles, white papers and handy e-books.

Less than 1000 words content is short-form content. Email drips, blog posts, social posts, landing pages and web pages fit into this short form family. 

You are wise and, always, chose the quickest path to reach the goal post. So, you’ve leaned on short-form content. But wait a second! We believe you are jumping guns, here. Choosing which content is best for you is not THAT dead simple as it may appear. You need to understand how the length of the content has a role in marketing reach. Just as how you chalk out your marketing game plan by weighing in multiple parameters, you need the following marketing-focused checklist to decide on content length.

Marketing checklist to decide your content length

Marketing Visibility

How would you rate your marketing visibility in the industry? Are you a new kid on the block, trying to gain popularity or that famous whiz kid who is already stealing the show with a huge social media fan following? If you tell us that you are neither but an average kid with a good chunk of loyal patrons, we take that as an answer too. But you need to know where your marketing visibility stands in the industry as it is tied to content length. Short-form content works brilliantly if you already have a great online presence – fans who adore your brand. A few hundred likes and shares, every day, can spread your message far and wide. But if you are setting up the shop, you need to lean onto search engines which usually works very well for longer content.

Audience Preference

Do your customers prefer data-intensive, detail-oriented, lengthy content or do they love to read a 100 words humour post? Do they like lots of juicy creative images inserted throughout the post or one info-graphic right at the top? Every day quirky posts inspire them, or bi-monthly blog posts serve their needs. Mobile or desktop – which one is the go-to-device of your target audience?  All these and more sentiments about your customers are important. You should factor in their preference to decide the length of your content. Ultimately, you create content to engage and help your customers. So, you need to uncover their content choices.

Writing Ninjas 

Let’s talk about your writing ninjas – creators of short form and long-form content. Does your in-house team comprise of writers of all kind? Ace copywriters who can ‘hook’ the audience with a few lines of copy, versatile bloggers who can dish out 4000-word blog posts that can hold audience attention intact, niche writers who handle subject-specific, information-rich content that can simplify your complex products.

Do not get surprised at this writer spectrum. This is the truth of word power. Writers are specialized in different forms of content. You cannot have a single writer who can write ‘wow’ social media copy blocks and ‘great insights’ white papers. You’ve to have a different set of writers to handle long vs short-form content. If you cannot afford to hire full-time writers, take help from freelancers. Build your writers circle to match your marketing game plan.

Topic of Interest

Longer content or short content choice is also based on the topic that you would want to write. You could be an online website focusing on security industry solutions and intends to write on cyber-security. Gardening, home interiors, kitchen accessories could be your topics if you are an online store selling home service products. You would need to research on specific topics to arrive at the ideal content length to gain maximum online traction.

For example, the optimal article content length for cyber-security is around 330 words. The top-performing cyber-security post has fetched 1.2 million (m) engagements, last year, with the split across Twitter (1.1 m), Facebook (95k), Pinterest (42), Reddit (19). These numbers would vary for each topic. Dive into some numbers before you finalize your blog posts

Consider you’ve ticked all the above checklist. Are you now ready to put the long-form vs short-form content dilemma to rest? The answer is no. We want to run you down through a few more important pointers. Because we love seeing you as the whiz kid in your industry: create magic with your content.

Additional tip: Use Social Animal to look at the top posts for any keyword. Look at the length of each top shared article and even analyze headlines. You can also analyze the top-performing posts of your competitor and get a gist on the content lengths they go far.

Get ranked and gain shares with the perfect content length for any topic!

Check what will work for FREE!

The super advantages of short form content

You’ve got company: WordPress, the blogger’s paradise, has reported that the average length of posts on their platform is only 280 words. Given WordPress is one of the best blogging platforms, this short & sweet word count shows that short content has a decisive say in the content world

You sweat less: Writing longer content is a herculean task. It is not easy to hold the attention of readers after 750 words unless the content has research data, cool imagery and lovable stories. Writing long content takes time. On the other hand, you can breeze through short content. All you need is a great topic and skilled storytelling. You are ready to roll. 

Capture the attention: The amount of content that hits customers’ screens, today, in just an hour is massive – the appropriate word is content deluge. Everyone is vying for the limited attention of online customers. This trend has drastically narrowed the attention span. Compared to lengthy content, you can capture the undivided attention of your readers with cool short form content.

Storm the internet: It is no secret that you need to push out new content, regularly, to stay connected with your audience. Higher the frequency, better the reach. Generating more content is even an absolute necessity if you are starting content marketing. Within a limited time, you can create more short form content on a garden variety of topics and impress your target audience. 

Entertain and engage: One of the unique advantages of short form content is you can blend different kinds of emotions in your writing. Needless to say, anyone would prefer a humor or satire post than a vapid information post. You can entertain your audience with goofy and funny copies. What else could anyone expect than a lighter moment that breaks everyday monotony? Go crazy and make your readers laugh with short form content.

Device agnostic: You really do not need to know if your customers use desktops or tabs or mobile phones. One of the benefits of short form content is your audience can savor it in any device, unlike its competing rival long content. Usually, the long form content is not mobile-friendly. So, let your super interesting short form content grab your audience attention across all devices. 

The long-term benefits of long form content

You get the front row: SerpIQ has researched to understand how search engines rank content based on its length. The finding revealed that Goggle ranks long form content better compared to short form content. Content with 2000 words or more has a higher probability of getting to the top of the search page. It is because the long form content provides the flexibility to include more relevant keywords. 

Travel fast and easy: According to recent research, long-form content enjoys higher social shares – nearly twice – than short-form content. This research indicates that lengthy content (3000 – 10000 words) gained an average of 8859 social shares per article and short content (less than 1000 words) received only 4615 social shares per article. So, if you want to go bet on online word of mouth – social shares, then you know which form of content can help you with it.  

Educate your customers: The crux of content marketing is to build content that helps your customers. If your audience feels that they are gaining value from you, they will trust your brand, buy your products and services. Long form content serves the best to educate your audience. An information-rich, research-intensive, how-to-guides can add significant value to the customers.

Best pal of SEO: Search engines favor long form content. This goes by the scientific truth that long form content can accommodate more keywords. Obviously, this enhances the opportunity to get picked up by search engine crawlers. Also, with the right amount of keywords, long form content can cast a wider net for the customers, searching with different keywords of a topic.

Spike your website performance: Marketers create long from content and publish on websites to increase the traffic. High-quality and useful content can not only reduce the bounce rate but also opens up the opportunity for authoritative backlinks. With rick keywords, enhanced readership and credible backlinks, your website performance will go up. Boost your website performance with well-written long form content.

We’ve taken you through some of the mighty benefits of long-form and short-form content. From the above benefit listicle, you can figure out that both long content and short content can contribute to your content marketing success in equal measures. The next step is to give you some pro tips on how to approach and write world-class short form and long-form content. We will load your rifle with more bullets to shoot down the long-form vs short-form dilemma.

Pro tips to ‘wow’ with short form content

Binge on emotionIf you are trying to convey a message with minimal words, then you’ve got very little time to wow your audience. Use a variety of emotions – joy, empathy, excitement, fear, beauty, admiration – in your storytelling. You’ll be able to connect with your audience instantly.

Bring the rainbowUse colorful visuals – images, graphics and illustrations – for your short posts. Mix the rainbow with emotions in storytelling to enthrall your readers. It is best to you use different types of visuals to write unique posts.

Say hi every morningWhile short posts are amusing and can entice the audience, the shelf life of short content is too short. No one would repeatedly revisit a short form post to dig information and gain deep insights. Posting short form content, every day, would be an ideal content strategy.  

Pro tips to ‘win’ with long form content

Wear researcher hatAudience would find long form content boring and bland if the length of the content is not substantiated with well-researched facts and figures. Get sufficient empirical data, include statistics, quote credible sources and make your long form content stand out. 

Design unique layoutsTaking readers through a long form content is equal to guiding a tourist through a heritage walk – it is an experience. The reading experience can be amplified only with creative design layouts. A run-on-the mill layout can set boredom. Introduce infographics, callouts, and visual elements throughout your content and give a pleasant reading experience.

Pay a visit oftenWriting long form content is both time-consuming and tedious. Also, it costs resources. But these factors should not affect the consistency of content creation. You can do weekly posts or monthly posts, but you need to have a solid long form content strategy in place before you set the ball rolling. Consistency is vital for content marketing success. 

Long form vs short form content. What is your pick?

We’ve squeezed every bit of our brain muscle, collected all our learnings and given you insights on short and long content. If there is one final message that we want to convey than that is this: for every industry, both long form and short form works. Seth Godin and Neil Patel for example – both are marketing luminaries and have built millions of online followers. While Seth trusts short posts, Neil writes long posts.

So, it is entirely up to you to decide what works best for your business. If you are starting it out, go with one form, assess the results and set the routine. 

Short or long – just go for it and make it a big success.

Also read: 20 Solid Reasons Why Content Marketing Is Important For Your Business

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Arun is a B2B marketer who practices creativity and empathy at work to deliver business results. In the last decade, he has built the marketing function thrice from the ground up and led successful marketing efforts for software products, industrial automation solutions, and enterprise IT services. Arun is also an amateur artist, photographer, and a handicrafts collector.