IS LONG-FORM CONTENT THE VISUAL VACATION WE NEED FROM A 140-CHARACTER-COUNT MINDSET?
I’ve had multiple conversations lately with several former journalists about how much we enjoy consuming and creating long-form content. I love to watch CBS Sunday Morning for the subject variety and depth of information. At one point in my early career, when I was an intern at CBS, I thought I might eventually end up at 60 Minutes or Sunday Morning, where I would hone my own storytelling craft.
However, I took a path less (or differently) traveled. Here at our visual content agency, CM Productions, Inc. we love creating long-form stories and have done so for several clients. We’ve become experts at creating the 90-second-to-2-minute video piece, because that length seems to hit the sweet spot for many of our clients. We even find ways to take that same content and cut it down into even shorter pieces to insert into the “social media scroll.”
But I think we’re seeing some exhaustion from that scroll, and just the “snacks” of information we get from it. We’ve noticed a trend where brands are moving toward using more long-form (or short documentary) videos and films to immerse viewers in intelligent storytelling, like this one from Yeti. Why the shift? Well, when it comes to information, we need a good well-balanced meal every once in a while. Everything can’t be a snack!
It’s not like we’ve all got short attention spans now, as you’ve no doubt heard people complain. Podcasts are incredibly popular and require undivided listening for a half-hour or more. Those podcasts can go into great detail on any subject you can imagine. And what about streaming television? Don’t tell me you haven’t binge-watched a season or two of your favorite shows lately!
It is difficult to tell a full, completely engrossing story in a minute or less. Our brains want to get deeper into a subject, but it has to be quality storytelling. Otherwise, it’s just a data dump someone put on a screen. When it is good storytelling, there’s something that hooks us in, keeps us engaged and provides real context. Some might even develop empathy on an issue that was previously not on their radar.
Patagonia is a brand we admire. And if you take time to watch just a few of their thought-provoking films you can see they are more than just an outdoor clothing brand. Their use of visuals immerse you in their culture and their content embodies their company mission. In fact, this 30-minute video launched Patagonia’s Worn Wear initiative, where Patagonia encourages recycling and reviving old worn-out pieces of clothing by showing the interesting stories associated with that piece of clothing. It’s compelling to watch. This type of storytelling is a way they can communicate their message to a wider audience.
In this world where 140 characters can give you whiplash with its power to change the news cycle, let’s take a vacation and seek out more long-form video content. As a brand, it’s a storytelling vehicle that has the power to connect more deeply with your audience. And as a consumer of those stories, you win with a deeper understanding of the nuances that surround issues in our lives.