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Trends & Insights | Blog

Are social platforms going long?

May 16, 2024


The competition for dwindling audience attention is as fierce as ever, but a surprising new trend is emerging: Longer content. How are social platforms acting on this shift?

Ankita Bose

Content Manager

Change is a constant in the world of social media. Originally created as a space to connect easily, social platforms have evolved to wield the power to steer you on how to communicate. Who you are on social media now varies based on the platform: TikTok holds space for whoever you want to be, X (formerly Twitter) users can be aggressively opinionated, Threads is a toned-down version of X, Instagram is a happy place, Facebook helps find old connections and keep in touch with older family members, and LinkedIn accentuates professionalism.

While these platforms shape our communication styles, the trend has always been about creating and sharing bite-sized, crisp, snackable content. In other words, content that’s easy to, ahem, digest.

Today, that brief is shifting, with platforms experimenting with longer content - be it captions, articles, or videos.

Platform changes

First up is LinkedIn, which was the first platform to provide a space for users to publish long-form content beyond the 3,000-character caption limit. Today, the platform brings more opportunities for individuals and brands to publish thousands of words through its newsletters and articles.

Modelled after LinkedIn’s long-form features, this year X has introduced the option to publish longer content as part of its new offerings. In Elon Musk’s world, the idea of ‘authenticity’ means unchecked and free-flowing thoughts, which has led to the platform’s varied subscription tiers that let users write tweets up to 25,000 characters long (about 3,850 words). If that’s not enough, X has launched ‘Articles’ with an increased character count of up to 100,000 (about 15,000 words).

But it’s not just word counts that are increasing – video length on social platforms is also quietly expanding. Since TikTok’s rise, short-form video content has been king, but the platform is now pivoting to the YouTube way of longer videos. TikTok rolled out 10-minute uploads in 2022 and has since also experimented with 15-minute uploads in October 2023, and 30-minute uploads in January 2024. For influencers, TikTok has launched a separate paid tier, Series, which allows creators to make money by posting ‘Collections’ of exclusive content that can be up to 20 minutes long.

In August 2023, Instagram also decided to follow TikTok’s footsteps and started experimenting with 10-minute in-app videos, an increase from three minutes.

Why the shift?

Data shows that 66% of consumers engage more with short-form content. So what exactly is making social platforms test out longer content features?

The drive for social media authenticity, for both individuals and brands reaching a wider audience, appears to be a key factor in this shift. This not only applies to individuals, but also to brands aiming to reach a wider consumer base.

Capturing authenticity means different things to each social platform. While Musk wants to transform X into a free space without guardrails or decorum, LinkedIn’s editor-in-chief, Dan Roth, has said the professional platform is focusing on maximising in-app value, and rewarding “knowledge and advice” over virality.

Social platforms are trendsetters, constantly adapting to user preferences. The rise of long-form content is likely a response to this - users crave depth, and platforms are delivering, prioritising authenticity in the process.

What does this mean for brands?

Longer social content formats can be leveraged to increase brand awareness, gauge audience interests, and publish strategic messaging. They can also be used by employees to promote their own work, their company culture, or team updates – something that is particularly popular on LinkedIn;

As LinkedIn’s ‘Employee Advocacy’ guide points out: “While only 3% of employees share content about their company, those shares are responsible for driving a 30% increase in the total engagement a company sees.” The guide also highlights that when employees post content they usually record a 2x higher click-through rate, as opposed to when the company publishes the same content. 

Meanwhile on X, the subscriptions-only ‘Articles’ feature adds a level of exclusivity to content, and brands can focus on reaching a niche audience that’s interested in specific topics.

Challenges and considerations

While longer formats may seem like an emerging trend, user attention spans are still on a downward trajectory. For brands, creating longer content (posts, articles or videos) would mean investing more time, resources and expertise, with an additional focus on production quality and distribution to capture audience engagement.

Longer content formats are ideal for content that requires more space than standard social media posts, such as in-depth campaigns, tutorials, educational content, and fostering niche communities. This depth allows for the creation of more in-depth storytelling, where brands can communicate their message, values, and narratives in a more relatable way. This, in turn, helps build stronger emotional connections with their audiences. Longer captions and descriptions can also boost SEO for social posts, increasing their visibility to users searching for relevant content.

An eye on the future

From increasing brand awareness and deeper storytelling, to enhanced reach and engagement, there’s clearly value in using longer social content formats – helping brands form stronger connections with their audiences and gain meaningful results for their business objectives.

Again, change is the only constant in social media. If you think back to five, or even ten years ago, most of our updates on social networks involved sharing quick thoughts, or messaging friends. Longer content belonged on blogging sites like WordPress and Blogspot, which have faded from memory as social spaces. 

As platforms continue to cater to our evolving attention spans, long-form content presents promising opportunities for brands and creators. They can explore niche topics that promote industry expertise, and build thought leadership – while using the increase in space to craft rich, compelling narratives. The key is to keep it authentic – sharing genuine stories and insights that build trust and, ultimately, deeper connections. 

To learn how our team can help with your social media strategy and content, visit our website or email hello@battenhall.com.