Is There a Formula for Online Content?
Marketing messages are coming in fast and furiously at your customers, and you know it’s critical to walk the line between great content and getting their attention. What’s the formula? How do other content marketers balance these worlds?
A delicate balance between long- and short-form content.
Customers want a varied diet of information, and this formula provides just that. The two forms are:
- Long-form, a journalistic term referring to content that exceeds around 1,000 words.
- Short-form, which is brief, “snackable” content.
No need to split hairs: think of the difference between an annual report versus a Twitter post.
On second thought, let’s split hairs: it’s not quite that easy. There are endless possibilities between those two forms and endless reasons for choosing one over the other. The objective is conversion, and organizations must gain their customers’ commitment again and again through helpful, relevant, and digestible information.
Easy and inexpensive to produce, short-form content keeps your name in the customers’ sights, telling your company’s story in a memorable and concise way. Think about fun pieces like:
- Instagram photos and Facebook posts
- Blog articles
- Attractive, eye-catching infographics
- Short and informative videos
This content builds loyalty with visibility and interest, but these pieces aren’t known for generating leads. Research tells us that short-form doesn’t get as many shares as long-form, so we need to utilize both.
This form is a valuable, informative piece that positions the creator as a trusted authority on their subject. The BuzzSumo science is clear on this also: the longer the content, the more shares it gets.
In today’s world of Tweets and Snaps, it might be surprising to learn this fact. We need the snackable content to stay in touch, but when we see a great meal that informs and provides surprising insights, we not only enjoy it ourselves, we share it with our friends.
Long form takes time to create and needs more editing and attention, but in the end, this will be the content that brings back your current customers and generates more. Examples of long-form include:
- Online “classes”
- Case studies
- White papers
Of course these need to look and feel like snackable content (it is the 21st century, after all!), and there are lots of great industry tips to make that happen. Use plenty of embedded videos, attractive art and photos, and make the content readable with lists, bullet points and short paragraphs.
When To Use Each Form
If you do any research on the topic you’ll find a consistent testimony: content is king. The most important element for any form is quality content. If the reader isn’t gaining new insights or being opened up to a new concept, it won’t stand the test of time, whether it’s long- or short-form.
As articulated by TopRank Blog CEO, Lee Odden:
The reality is that depth is better than length. It just happens that much of the content that covers a topic thoroughly also has length. But it is not the number of words that has merit. It’s the words used, structure, usefulness, citations and associated entities that matter most for search engines trying to understand and rank “best answer” content and people looking for solutions.
Set up a realistic communication schedule that includes both forms. Execute that plan for a few months and then assess the results. Did that video get the views you were hoping for? Was that case study downloaded? Which content was shared the most? Take some inventory and plan accordingly. The important thing is to keep communicating with your customers!
Has your company found a formula for long- and short-form content? What kind of content have you seen get the most results and conversions? Leave a comment and share your insights with us!
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