“As short as possible” has been the constant refrain of social video creators in recent years. But what if we told you long-form video is slowly making a comeback? Longer videos are being favored by Facebook, and a study by video platform Wochit reports that, in 2017, longer videos received 79 percent more shares and 74 percent more views than all short videos.

But what counts as long-form? There are a few ways to define it. According to Google, a long-form video is a video longer than 10 minutes. But the Shorty Awards consider a video to be long-form at the two minute mark. Think With Google also considers a video around the two minute mark to be “long-cut video advertising.”

For the purposes of this article, we’ll look at videos from brands that are longer than two minutes and examine what made them unique.

But first…

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Benefits of long-form vs. short-form social video

Luckily, you don’t have to choose one form of social video over the other. We talked to Hootsuite’s own social video expert, social media marketing specialist Christine Colling, about the benefits of each type and how they can complement each other.

Based on Hootsuite data, here’s what we can tell you.

Benefits of short-form video:

  • Good for short attention spans (we see high completion rates on our shorter videos—that’s the percentage of your video the average viewer watches)
  • Good for teasing content (e.g., at Hootsuite, we use it to promote a small portion of a new blog post so that readers are enticed to read the full article)
  • Good for announcements (i.e., a shorter video gets the message across quickly)
  • Easier to remember (re: short attention spans)

Benefits of long-form video:

  • More room to tell a story, which has a better chance of creating an emotional connection with your audience (In a Google video ad experiment, in-depth storytelling creates “a more meaningful connection to the brand.” Instead of just creating brand awareness, a longer story “may be necessary to persuade people to change how they think.” That is, creating an emotional connection through storytelling has a better chance of changing how your audience thinks about your brand.
  • Good for educating your audience—which is useful at different points in the customer journey, like before and after they’ve bought a product (e.g. in-person interviews, product review, or demo).

Based on what we know about attention spans from a study by Locowise (they’re decreasing rapidly, and as of 2017 are as short as 10 seconds), our social team uses short-form videos for most networks.

However, our social team regularly tests longer videos on Facebook. Our data shows audiences have longer attention spans on Facebook, and as previously mentioned, its algorithm also favors valuable content that people talk about and come back to, which can often mean longer and more substantial content, as opposed to short, snackable video content.

1. Hyundai

Hyundai pulls at heartstrings in its Summer 2018 campaign, “Brilliant Moments with Hyundai.” Instead of an overly product-focused ad (the product doesn’t appear until the 1:30 mark), the company created a series of long-form videos on how people can get attached to things in their life. For this campaign, it’s the sentimental value of keeping a Hyundai over the years.

The video is a recreation of customer moments with Hyundai. It’s a celebration of the last 20 years of Hyundai customer experiences in India—a thank-you for customer loyalty. To accurately reflect the unique experiences of their consumers, the campaign even asks real customers to share their own “brilliant moment with Hyundai” for a chance to win a prize.

What we can learn: If you’re going to make a long-form video for your brand, focus on channelling human emotion. A Harvard Business Review study shows that an emotional connection matters more than customer satisfaction when it comes to building brand loyalty.

For Hyundai, these videos are all about nostalgia and that feeling is captured in a series of customer stories. Long-form works well for showcasing these stories, as it allows more space for in-depth storytelling. That means more time to connect with the characters, build tension, and reveal a full story arc.

2. Patagonia

Patagonia created a series of long-form videos on YouTube for their Worn Wear used clothing program. The videos feature people who wear Patagonia, and discuss who they are and how Patagonia fits into their lives.

Not only do the videos show off a community of Patagonia patrons, they’re meant to speak to the company’s mission to protect the environment. Patagonia encourages customers to hang onto their clothing as long as possible, or to pass it onto others.

Long-form video is well-suited for this type of content (following a customer story) and for the Patagonia brand itself, as it features stunning shots of the outdoors. The Worn Wear video series has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times since first published in 2013.

What we can learn: Create a long-form story around your brand ethos, purpose, or mission. When your customers are buying your product or service, they’re buying into your brand values as well. Putting your brand ethos on film is a reminder to your customers that they’re part of a community that shares the same values. Taking time to explore that sense of belonging in a long-form video can clearly pay off.

Bonus: Want to know how a viral social video creator makes millions of dollars in sales? Download the free guide now.

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3. Dollar Shave Club

Dollar Shave Club challenges the idea of keeping razor blades for as long as possible (what people are accustomed to with expensive razor brands). The brand’s video campaign, “The Dull Life,” reminds members to regularly change their blades for a better shave in a very unique way.

Each video is an hour-long feature of a “dull” activity: counting jelly beans, watching a snail cross the road, ice melting, and more. The message is that these activities are dull, so your blades shouldn’t be.

Even though these videos were lengthy, the Shorty Awards reports that “The Dull Life” videos were viewed for an average of 250 percent more than Dollar Shave Club’s usual videos and 600 percent more than industry benchmarks.

What we can learn: Get to brainstorming and develop a creative concept that shows off your product—even if it isn’t “real.” Long-form videos don’t always have to be customer stories or based on your work culture. They can be pure fiction.

4. Buzzfeed

Known for their short, fun, and shareable videos (like the ones on their Tasty channel), one of Buzzfeed’s long-form videos received impressive results.

The Power to Live and Forgive” is a 14-minute video about how Eva Mozes Kor survived the Holocaust. In it, Mozes Kor describes how she and her twin sister were used as medical experiments at the Auschwitz concentration camp. The video has over 7 million views on YouTube and 189 million views on Facebook.

What we can learn: Don’t be afraid to test different video types. You might be doing really well in one format, but that doesn’t mean you can’t also see great results on another.

5. Airbnb

In its #HostWithPride campaign, Airbnb aims to “help create a world where all love is not only accepted, but welcomed.” The video campaign demonstrates Airbnb’s sponsored support in San Francisco Pride week (the city Airbnb was founded in) and its commitment to diversity and inclusion as a company.

The “Love is Welcome Here: Our #HostWithPride Film” is compiled of personal interviews from LGBQT+ couples around the world: their stories, experiences, and struggles with feeling safe while traveling. Long-form lends itself to “Love is Welcome Here”, as the length gives time to weave between the stories of several ‘characters’ in the video. The audience gets to know several couples, not just a 10 second snap of one. The stories are also interesting, educational, and emotional, keeping the audience’s attention despite their length.

What we can learn: Take long-form as an opportunity to not only emotionally connect with your audience, but educate them. AirBnB used this video to educate us about their values, but also about the struggles LGTBQ+ customers face while traveling. People are likely to keep watching if they’re learning something and invested in the content. Talk about the causes your brand supports. People who support a cause will be more inclined to support a brand whose values align with their own.

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