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Writing long or short: When and where?

This article was first published by Write Wiser on Linkedin.

Let's start by getting one thing straight: When it comes to writing long- or short-form content, it is not cut-and-dry. One is not better than the other.

The answer that every podcast guest gives is correct: It depends.

However, the answer is more interesting than "blogs should be long, social media is short." Marketers know, from our experience on TikTok and YouTube that long-form does indeed belong on social media. Live events can go on for hours while watchers send gifts. Meanwhile, short and pithy blogs of no more than 500 words can also take off.

So, if it's not easy to decide, what are the parameters to follow when deciding "how long is too long"?

When is the ideal time to write long-form content?

Let's start with invalid excuses to write long content: ❌ The topic is complex

❌ Others have written long pieces on the subject

❌ You want to show all your expertise

❌ The audience has too little information to understand your content

The above are NOT reasons to write a long article. Nor should you wax lyrical in a monologue video.

A writer sits in a café window looking bored, leaning her hand on her arm. She is wearing an orange T-shirt and has brown hair.

If you can't explain it in a few words, you might not understand it enough. Moreover, you don't need the audience to understand the entire subject or every ounce of your expertise. Remember, your audience is smart! If they want more, they'll click next video, or keep reading your content. A teaser might be enough, for now.

Instead, put content in a long-form video or article when you are positive, absolutely convinced, that you can entertain them the entire time.

Where should long-form content live?

Long-form content can potentially live in many locations. The misconception that "long-form should be turned into eBooks" and on-demand videos, trapped behind a paywall or contact form, is outdated. Your only limitations are platform-enforced.

LinkedIn microblogs

Story-style posts on LinkedIn in a written, well-formatted text block can establish authority. If well-written, don't fear the 3,000-character limit. Your only limit is how many of those characters you can make gripping.

TikTok uploads

Within the app, you can record up to three minutes of video, but uploads allow up to ten minutes. Got way more than that? Go Live. Want it to live forever? Head to...

YouTube essays

A popular format of video is informative YouTube recordings, be they videos or podcast-style. Do not rely on fanciful editing to make your videos exciting, the substance needs to carry itself.

Your site

Want long-form content to have longevity? The closest you can get to complete control of the webiverse is your own site. If the content is irreplaceable, put it on your own site.

Two male-presenting writers work on typewriters in a street. The sun is shining on them and they are wearing Panama hats, with Georgian architecture behind them.

When is it ideal to write short-form content?

Here's the crux of short-form... Copywriters get paid millions to come up with 5 words. Why? Because it's harder. If you're in marketing, you've hopefully realised how difficult it is to resonate, communicate, and be remembered in fewer words.

For the above reason, the motivation to write short-form should not include:

❌ No time to write more

❌ Lack of interest in the topic

❌ Hoping to hop on a trend

The reasons you might choose short-form for a piece include:

  • High level of clarity in your message

  • Need to capture attention, to later share more

What happens when you write excellent, short-form content? You minimise the mental load on those who want to remember you.

A professional writer of African descent types on a Macbook, she is wearing a tan-coloured cardigan over her black checked shirt, her hair in braids, and in a white office space.

Where should short-form content live?

Want to create real impact? Be brief, where it's not expected.

Hold a talk and get it done in 4 minutes.

Send out a report with only 2 sentences — your conclusion.

Send a CV with your current job and aspirations, no more.

Not every audience will appreciate this, but those who do like surprises, those non-conformists, will adore it. Either way, you'll be remembered. And that is perhaps much more important than being liked.

Nadine Heir is a marketer and writer who started in the editorial world before sharpening her content teeth at international startups. Today, she grows the presence of small businesses and shows business owners how to market themselves with content.


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