How Long does your Content need to be? Short Form versus Long Form | Podcast S3E5

Instagram Stories, Google Web Stories, YouTube Shorts, Pinterest Idea Pins, TikToks – the world seems to be demanding that we create shorter and shorter pieces of content just to be seen. But does this mean that longer form content isn’t or can’t be effective anymore? This is precisely what we dig into in this episode of Permission to Leap. 

Specifically, in this show, we will talk about: 

  • The concept of attention spans and the medium being the message; attention spans equal the lifetime value of the content
  • The lack of evidence to prove that shorter creates better relationships
  • Ways to start bringing longer form content into your strategy when you are caught on the ‘create more and shorter’ train

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Episode Transcript

Note: This transcript is auto generated and is nowhere near perfect. There will be typos and weird words in the transcription. It will however, serve as a guide to the contents of the episode.

Hi, I’m your host, Erin Trafford. And this show is for creative entrepreneurs and business owners. Just like you. We’re ready to understand content strategy. Learn from a pro. And unlock the power of story to fuel the growth in your business. This is the show where I share with you my absolute, no BS approach to business building and content strategy. Lessons from my decades in newsrooms as an award-winning broadcaster insights and actionable steps, you can take right now to create true momentum in your business, simply by shifting the energy around your content and the strategies you are using to share it with the world. Have I mentioned that I’m also a professional blogger and executive producer. I’m absolutely. When a guide you to clarity in your content strategy. So get ready to leap. Into being bold. Into being strategic. And pushing the boundaries of what you think and believe is possible.

Oh, I am all fired up today. I am. All fired up today. Instagram stories, Google web stories, YouTube shorts. Pinterest idea, pins to tick. Talks short form content. I want to talk about that today. Because it is so frigging demanding, it is demanding of our time. It is demanding of our energy. It’s demanding of our creativity. It is demanding, demanding, demanding. I call it the hungry, hungry beast. Actually, I usually use a term that’s much more derogatory than that, but let’s for sake of this show. Call all of those little short term snippets. Oh, I said short term, that’s a little bit of a slip of what’s to come in this episode, but it is a short form snippet.

The short form snippet content is overtaking our brains. It is taking over what we think and feel our content needs to be. So I want to break it down and, you know, you know, by now. Listening to permission to leave. If this is the first episode you’ve listened to. Then you are in for an absolute ride because. It’s I am in full form today. Ladies and gentlemen, I am in full form today. This whole short form content thing. Oh, my goodness. It doesn’t mean, first of all, I’m just going to say this out. If you want to take this. You know, this is all you take from this episode than great, but it does not mean. That long form content is not effective anymore. For some reason. A lot of people are hearing that message. And that is not the message.

I want you to hear that just because short form content is popular right now. Just because the platforms are using short form content to drive their agendas right now. Does not mean that you should be ignoring longer form content. Okay. It does not mean that longer form content. I cannot be absolutely the key to unlocking your content strategy and the key to feeling good in your business and in showing up. So do not be swayed by popular short form. We’re going to talk about that today. I am not saying don’t do it. We have reels on our Instagram. That’s pretty much what we do. We also engage in Pinterest, which like let’s be real is another hungry, hungry beast. We use Pinterest, uh, in, in the business to a certain extent.

But let’s break this down because there were a few things at play when we’re looking at creating content, especially these shorter. Pieces of content for social media. Okay. We’ve got to understand attention span and hands up. If you have heard somebody say, or you have read somewhere that the, the attention span of the human brain is. Is retreating. Right. That back in the olden times, we used to have attention spans that were 20 minutes long and then television and the 24 hour news cycle started in the eighties. And then our attention span reduced to 15 minutes. And then all of a sudden we had MTV, oh, let’s blame MTV. And then it dropped dead minutes.

Then social media comes and then it was seven minutes. And then it was five minutes. And then it was one minute and then it was 45 seconds and there was 30 seconds. And now it’s three seconds. Come on. Give yourself more credit than that. Okay. You are a breathing, beautiful human with a functioning brain. More than a functioning brain. You have empathy. You have. Uh, authenticity. You have discernment. Okay. So don’t confuse attention span for discernment. Okay, but also let’s just not forget that. The attention span. Of these let’s use Tik TOK, or you. You know, Instagram reels, tick dog. They’re kind of the same thing.

So, yes, you have a few seconds to grab someone’s attention. You have a few seconds to do that on that platform. But I want you to also draw the correlation between these bursts of short form content and the longevity of that content. Vis-a-vis your business. How often are you meant to create Instagram reels? They tell you, you need to do it like three times a week. Spoiler, we do it once a week at Aaron Trafford story and strategy. And I feel like that’s too much because it doesn’t really fill my soul up. Sure. They’re fun to do. And I have, Lindsay helped me do them. But like, What I want you to see is the shorter, the attention span. Of the content you’re creating. The shorter, the lifespan of the content. Usability for your business.

Because if you are cranking out that high volume of 15 second content, The 15 seconds that you did last week. Is no longer relevant. To the audience on that platform. What does that do for you as a creative business owner? It puts you in a constant state of what I would say is reinventing the wheel. Restating who you are. Starting at the starting blocks. Over and over and over again. Now there is nothing wrong with using these short form contents as part of your support system. But if they are your only system, Girl, you’re going to be so dang burnt out by these short form pieces of content that you are going to give up. And I say that with pretty much absolute certainty because I’ve seen it happen over and over and over again.

Oh, my God, it takes forever. You know, I think I said this in one of the previous episodes in season two of permission to leap that I signed up when, when Instagram reels hit, those hit the scene. And I was like, all right, I better figure out what the hell this is all about. And I took a master class by a quote unquote expert in Instagram. And it was brutal because the promise of the masterclass don’t even get me started. We’ll talk about this in the next episode about making promises. You can’t keep, but the promise of the masterclass was I’m going to show you how to easily create reels so that it doesn’t suck up all of your time. And so that you can easily add this into your content strategy.

No problem. Lemon squeezy all done. So I was like, great. That’s what I want. I want to be able to create these short form pieces of content without it sucking my soul and my time. And also understanding how it fits into the grander scheme of my business. Took the class and lo and behold at the end, the takeaway was you need to spend eight hours a week. Creating Instagram reels in order for them to be fully strategic, integrated into your plan and to get the most out of the algorithm. And I thought F that. Eight hours a week. What else could I be doing with that time to actually support my content strategy? So. And this is because I understand fundamentally that when I write a blog post. The potential lifespan of a blog post is two years.

When I do a podcast episode. I know that my podcasts don’t actually hit their peak downloads until about six weeks later. We don’t even, I don’t even look at the metrics for the day that the, the podcast goes out. I mean, I make sure that it went out on the feed and everything technically is fine, but like, other than that, I’m like, I don’t look at that until six months from now. Because I know that it hasn’t gained enough momentum. We know, for example, with SEO and blog posts, and it takes 90 days for that to see any results. Pinterest pins. There are some pens out there that will continue to deliver traffic to you for years, like five years. At plus. So the attention span. Argument. He needs to be tempered with. The lifetime value of the content.

If you are spending eight hours a week on four pieces of content that are only going to be good for one day. Right. They’re only going to be shown in that feed for one day. I want you to take a breath and ask yourself, how can I make a different choice? Is there a different choice right now that will serve my business? For the immediate term, maybe you do one or two reels. But then what do you use the other half of your day for you?

Turn those reels into a podcast episode, into a YouTube video, into a blog post into multiple LinkedIn posts. Maybe instead you spend your time reaching out to do joint ventures with people. We’ll help you actually grow your audience. Who will help you actually grow your sphere of influence rather than fighting an uphill battle with supposed attention span. Type content.

So the true question that we’re trying to answer here is what is better short form content or long form content. And there’s no, you know, there’s no better, better is completely subjective. So it depends on the day. Depends on what you’re trying to say, but I want you to hear right now, too, that these shorter form pieces of content. Are not necessarily, there’s no evidence yet. There is zero evidence to prove that shorter form content creates better relationships. And if you are a service-based creative entrepreneur or you’re a product based creative entrepreneur, you know, that selling your stuff is based on relationships.

So, yes, the shorter form can get people to notice you, but it’s not necessarily going to get them to like you to love you and to feel from you. So you need to temper all of this within the context of. All of your content. And remember back to episode one of season three, when we talked about the fact that. 60% of your consumer, your prospect, your client’s buying decision as to whether to say yes to you.

Has been made based on them consuming the content that you have already put out into the world. If the only content you’re putting out there are these 15 second videos, it’s going to take them a hell of a lot longer to figure out who the frig you are in 15, second increments. Then if they’re able to actually sink into who you are in a meaningful piece of content, Okay, you need to have both. So if you are caught on this, create more and shorter train and you’re feeling like you’re hung up on it and you can’t break this cycle, I’m going to make an invitation to you to. Look at the workflow that we have at Erin Trafford story and strategy, and try to extricate yourself from that belief. Okay. So here’s how we do it.

This is what we do. And this is if you took the workshop, go back and listen to the special drop in January and season three, the three part workshop. It is. Absolutely the process that I run through with my VIP clients. It’s the process that we use in both of my companies. It is there for you. Like no holds barred. We put it all on the podcast feed. So this is the process in a nutshell. Okay. We go into it in depth in those episodes, but this is it in a nutshell. We look at what do we want to create in our business? Who do we want to create it for? What are their biggest questions? What are their biggest objections? What are their biggest fears and what are their biggest joys? We build a content idea bank around that. We call it a story bank. I draw from my personal experience, lived in learnt. I draw from clients’ experience, experiences lived and learned. I pull from industry experience, lived and learned. Okay.

We put it all onto a. Content flow. And then we figure out how that information needs to be experienced. Does it need to be experienced in these small, fun, quirky, little dancing videos? Some of it, yeah. But does the, does some of it need to be on a podcast up in your ear? Does some of it need to be actually written on our websites so that our prospects can. Really get a sense of who we are and what we stand for. Yes. Does some of it needs to go on a sales page. Sometimes, sometimes it does.

We look at it holistically. We do not assume that we’re going to be on a rat race. Of short form content creation. And this is precisely why at the time of this taping, I still do not have a Tik TOK account because it just doesn’t fit. It just doesn’t fit right now. And you know what? I can be perfectly honest with you and say that I have talked to people who are now ticktock experts, people who are selling ads on Tik TOK. Brands who are buying influencer contracts on Tik TOK. You know what the truth is? Ticktock is great for reach, but not great for making sales.

The data shows tick-tock audiences love to engage. They love to share, but they don’t like to buy things. So that’s also a consideration, right? You can spend a lot of money creating vanity metrics on a platform that is not truly going to drive your business. So the takeaway for today, the takeaway, because you know that I want to give you a takeaway here.

The takeaway is I want you to look at the balance that you have in your business between short form content. And what I’m calling longer form longer and impact content. How are you balancing that? And if you are not balancing that right now, then I’m giving you an invitation to pause and really, really look at that and go back and take those workshops. Pick up the upgrade, get the workbooks. We’ve put the link in the show notes for this episode as well.

Dig. And. Align yourself, not with the platform. And not with this belief that human beings. Can only pay attention to something for three seconds, because that’s just bullshit. As bullshit some of the best. Performing podcasts in the world. Are longer than an hour. They wouldn’t be getting hundreds of thousands and millions of downloads. If people couldn’t actually pay attention to something for longer than three seconds. Don’t believe the hype. Short and long. They can go together. Too much of one too much of the other, you’re going to feel imbalanced. I don’t believe the hype. Uh, line first. And then make decisions.

Based on it feeling good. Some days dancing feels good some days. Going deep. Feels good.

Let it feel good. Hey, thanks for listening to this episode of permission to leave. And if you like this, consider subscribing to the show. Wherever you get your podcasts. And if you’re on apple podcasts, please leave us a review. Five stars would be phenomenal. Also, I love when you take a screenshot and share the show with your social media networks and just make sure you’re tagging me at it. Study Erin Trafford. And if you’d like to know more, check out the show notes that’s of course, where you’re going to find all of the latest downloads resources, so on and so forth from Erin Trafford story and strategy, plus links to applications to work with me either in my story and strategy mentorship, or as a private consulting client.

Show notes also, where we’re going to put all the information to any upcoming masterclasses events and programs that you might want to participate in. Finally, if you’ve got ideas, things you want me to tackle, you want to be a guest on the show. Yes. As of season three. We are adding guest co-hosts. Into the mix. I’m going to tell you more about that later. What you get when you are co-host with me. But if you’ve got any other feedback for the show, please feel free to reach out to We’ll get back to you. As soon as possible.

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