Don’t Give Long-Form Content Short Shrift
In an age when the average smartphone user reportedly has an attention span less than that of a goldfish, you might think that the shorter a piece of content is, the more likely it is to engage its intended audience. While there is definitely a case to be made for brevity, long-form content also deserves a place in your content mix.
What is long-form content? According to an article in Forbes, “while there is no exact definition of what ‘long’ means, most experts peg it at 1,200 to 2,000 words when it comes to the written form.” Typical formats include eBooks, white papers, and case studies, as well as longer videos and blog posts.
Not every topic merits long-form treatment. To decide whether a subject deserves such treatment, you need to consider who you’re trying to reach, the context in which they will consume the content, and the goal you want to achieve.
Filling the top of the funnel
Customers in the awareness and consideration stage are a prime target for long-form content. Longer treatments provide details that can draw in people and enable your company to demonstrate expertise in a particular area. People willing to devote the time to longer pieces are more likely to be seriously interested in your company’s products or solutions, as opposed to someone spending just a few minutes skimming short social media posts.
Longer pieces such as case studies give you the space to provide in-depth examples of how your company has helped customers overcome business challenges. Studies show that people find customer success stories to be one of the most compelling types of content. As Forbes columnist Tom Kaneshige put it, “marketing content must be chock full of customer stories, fact-based data, or other relevant information that lifts it above the noise.”
A longer treatment also allows you to tell a story about the value your organization can deliver. You can describe your business’s key differentiators in greater detail than a quick blog post would allow. For example, a client recently asked me to provide the foundational content for the launch of a new microsite. They commissioned a series of five eBooks around their core offerings, as well as a long research report. As a bundle, this content helped validate my client’s authority on important topics and set the stage for more informed discussions with customers. And when readers discover content that demonstrates creative thinking and problem solving, they’re more likely to share it.
The gift that keeps on giving
Long-form content can serve as the basis for a variety of shorter assets—chunk an eBook into multiple short blogs posts, tweet out snippets or stats from a white paper, break up long videos into shorter edits, and create standalone infographics from case study graphics. In true recycling spirit, you can point back to long-form content from your short form content, extending your original investment.
Of course, long or short, what matters most is the quality of the message you deliver. What do you think is the ideal length for content? Let us know.