When it comes to digital marketing in today's evolving online world, there has been a lot of new attention being focused on whether companies should concentrate on creating long-form content versus short-form content.
Deciding between investing time and money to create the traditional long-form content or switching over to the more trendy short-form content, like that being created through social media, really comes down to which form will provide the company with the most overall benefit.
But who says it has to be one form or the other?
As we seek out the underlying truth of this debate, we need to define both forms of content so that we can explain the general shortcomings of focusing solely on short-form content while weighing the benefits of employing the more in-depth long-form version of content creation. One's company goals will also determine which form may have a larger impact.
Short-form content defined
Short-form content can be defined as content that is generally created rather quickly and is intended to be consumed by the viewer just as fast. Examples include things like tweets, status updates, short infograpics, Instagram photos, Snapchat images, Vine videos, and even short blog posts and articles (under 350 words). Here's a good example of a short-form blog post at just over 300 words on the topic of, "can dogs eat celery?"
Long-form content defined
Simply put, long-form content can be defined as in-depth content designed to give its audience a large amount of detail and information and includes things like e-books, white papers, and long blog post series. For example, this guide on how much to tip movers clocks in at a few thousand words, and shows a good example of long form content.
Short-form content creation vs long-form content creation
While the idea of being able to create content that is both easy and inexpensive to produce appeals to the type of managers who are looking to count page views, the downside here is that short-form content doesn't require any deep investment from the audience.
While short-form content is a great strategy to drive engagement and clicks, your returns will be short lived. The unfortunate nature of short-form content is that it has such a high turnover rate and its virtual life is limited to such a short period of time, that it needs to constantly be produced or risk missing a large percentage of its audience. The average lifespan of a tweet is 18 minutes! This is increased by the number of followers you have, but to be successful on Twitter means that you need to be tweeting often.
It's along this train of thought that smart managers understand that focusing solely on short-form content will provide no benefit to search engine traffic. In fact, multiple research reports have found that longer content ranks better in search engines. Longer content allows a brand to dive deeper into a topic and tends to get more inbound links and shares. Search engines are trying to rank the page/article that best answers the search query. If you write a 300 word post on why blogging is important with 3 quick points, compared to the company that wrote a 2,000 word article with examples, quotes, and research - who do you think will get more shares and links? Strive to create the most valuable and useful content for your audience.
Take a look at your own content and find out what posts are performing best in social as well as in search. BufferApp gives you a step by step guide to conduct your own content audit. Similar with other reports, Buffer found that the longer pieces of content had more social shares.
Lastly, with long-form content you are given enough time and space to establish your expertise in your industry all while developing an important level of trust. According to a survey of 31,000 respondents in over two dozen markets completed by the Edlman Trust in 2013, "trust and credibility" comes from either people who you see as similar to yourself, employees of a company, or "subject matter" experts.
The benefits of employing both long and short-form content creation
When you base your marketing efforts on the foundation of long-form content while employing the social aspects of short-form content, you can actually create a marketing plan that can be a successful solution.
Some way of accomplishing this include:
- While you are researching your e-book or white paper, feel free to post on Facebook or tweet some of the interesting statistics or findings to your audience as a way of building anticipation for the release.
- Once the product is released, create a short series of videos that consist of highlights from the e-book or white paper. Post these quick videos to your YouTube channel and share on your other social platforms.
- Organize the main talking point of your product into a highly visual infographic that you can be easily be shared.
- Use those same talking points to create a series of tweets and status updates that attract and inform followers about your content, and then directs them to your company website where your content resides.
In the end...
Short-form content is great for driving traffic to your content dense blog or corporate website, but it's your long-form content that is going to build the lasting, long-term relationship you want with your future customers.