We are currently in the middle of what will probably turn out to be the most interesting change within the marketing world.
In the last decade or so, the internet and how we use it has changed rapidly – and it continues to do so. Influencing went from blogging, to YouTube, to snappy bitesize content with the likes of Twitter and Instagram dominating the social space. What sets humanity apart from the rest of this world’s species, is our ability to think and perhaps as a reaction to the inherent laziness we seem to have adopted – or so we’ve been told – when it comes to media consumption, long-form content is making a stellar comeback. Whilst Microsoft’s well documented studies might be telling us that the average human being now has an attention span of eight seconds… a sharp decrease from the average attention span of 12 seconds in the year 2000, the point of the matter is that we still have the same amount of time in a day and whilst we might work harder than most generations before us, people are still looking for different ways to be entertained.
Social media platforms are run using algorithms. Nope, despite what your mum believes, these algorithms are not the latest chart-topping boy band – in fact, they predict what you want to see when you’re scrolling through your feed. They control the adverts, the order of posts, the frequency of content – etcetera – and they can be terrifyingly accurate. The difficulty with algorithms though, is their unbeatability. Influencers and brands alike are busy losing sleep over how to crack the code and make sure their content sits front and center, but it’s proving an impossible task right now – you kinda just get lucky or you don’t. When algorithms work probably, they can streamline the social space and combat saturation of similarity, but that doesn’t feel like it’s the case right now. The somewhat panicked scenario this has cause though, has actually resulted in one of the biggest reasons long-form media outlets are getting some of the social limelight. Enter our new favourite form of media: the humble podcast. Podcasts are a great way to get across personality in a less constrictive form for both the listener and the creator and they work excellently for brands and influencers alike, so it’s no surprise we’ve seen a massive increase in brands investing in podcasts. Podcasts are a substantial segment of time – usually between 40 and 45 minutes – in which brands (whether they’re sponsoring or hosting) have their audience’s undivided attention, which as we know, is something of a rarity these days.
With the rise in podcasts prevalent, we decided to look into some of the other versions of long-form media out there, and the different ways in which brands can get involved.
Facebook Create Series
– Facebook have and always will be quick to adapt to consumers’ behavior, with the interest of keeping their channel relevant – something MySpace, Bebo and the other social space OGs weren’t able to do. They have played around with a few different options when it comes to long-form content, launching things like Facebook Watch that was aimed at rivalling Netflix, so it’s no surprise Create Series has just launched, giving brands and creators the opportunity to host longer videos and television-esque content on the channel. As well as influencers having the opportunity to give different content to their Facebook audiences, it sets a precedent for what to expect, so brands can advertise where audiences are invested.
– IGTV is long-form because videos can be up to 60 minutes long, and the channel itself is designed for how we actually use our phones, meaning everything is portrait-orientated video – how 94% of us view video on mobile. IGTV was also the first feature to be fully monetised by Instagram, meaning it’s fair to say they backed this as a huge platform development. Having seen a boost in usage from content creators after integrating IGTV into standard feed posts, Instagram are reportedly increasing focus on making IGTV more irresistible as a long-form video platform choice. The Verge reported that Instagram have cited increasing IGTV’s popularity is a major project this year, so it seems there is no time like the present to make IGTV a more consistent part of your always-on content strategy – especially if you’re looking to connect with your brand audience in a more meaningful, personal way. Luxury make-up brand Charlotte Tilbury are an excellent example of a business embracing all features of online exposure, to align their marketing strategy with millennial and Gen Z shopping habits. A spokesperson from Charlotte Tilbury provided us with the following quote:
“Whilst Instagram has primarily been a platform for short content, the introduction of IGTV has proved a huge success with our audience. Charlotte’s followers constantly ask for more in-depth tutorials to be posted online, which we are now able to provide via IGTV. We were invited by Instagram to create IGTV content on the platform at the point of Instagram’s IGTV public launch, and have continued to see high engagement rates with our long-form content. We have used this format to exclusively reveal new product launches and makeup looks to our followers.”
– According to ThinkNow Research data cited by eMarketer, some 61% of adults say they now watch shows on Netflix, proving that a sizable share of people have become used to watching lengthier digital pieces. In a society where most morning conversations involve sharing opinions on what you streamed the night before on Netflix, it’s safe to say they know what they’re doing when it comes to long-form media, and how to make sure content will excite, move and connect audiences across the world. Last year, a documentary came out on Netflix that featured Idris Elba collaborating with iconic, global brand Superdry to produce a 250 piece luxury clothing line. The documentary is beautifully shot and directed, but above all it’s a very clever piece of left-field marketing from Superdry. As a brand, they across as personable, hard-working and innovative – things you just wouldn’t be able to convey through traditional or bitesize marketing.
– Whilst this one is brand new and perhaps not quite verifiable yet, Snapchat’s new move towards longer form content is a fascinating one. Snapchat is due to launch their own version of longform, episodical content this summer, made up of Creator Shows featuring influencers and celebs alike. The show seasons will run for around eight to ten episodes, and each episode will be roughly three to five minutes long. These so-called ‘Creator Shows’ will feature a range of marketing opportunities, from both Snap Ads to traditional video commercials. The aim of Snapchat’s new Creator Shows is to provide incentive to creators to extend their reach and remain on the platform, instead of moving to competitor longform video platforms like IGTV, TikTok or YouTube. Creators will now be able to build their brand entirely on Snapchat through monetisation, as YouTubers have now done for years.