Ah, listicles. Snappy, 300-word blog posts. Quizzes that tricked audiences into consuming information. Audiences really ate up viral, short-form content for awhile there. And businesses caught on to the benefits of this content marketing strategy, churning it out as a way to engage consumers with their brands. It got to the point where many marketers stopped creating any truly in-depth, long-form content because they believed that audiences no longer had the attention spans for anything beyond 140 characters. But, according to Inc., giving up on their audiences was a mistake because it turns out people actually really appreciate longer content marketing pieces that provide value over entertainment.
Now, I’m not saying short-form content doesn’t have any value because it certainly does. But it becomes a problem when marketers eliminate an entire marketing strategy because another one starts succeeding. Short-form content has definitely had its moment, but I’ve had so many people tell me that no one will read anything beyond 300 to 500 words that I’m near tearing my keyboard keys out. To ignore long-form content is to ignore the research, plain and simple. Marketing strategies continue to evolve, and the shift from short-form happened a few years ago. Does short-form still work? Yes, absolutely. But long-form made its quiet comeback, and audiences have been eating up longer, well-researched, well-written articles.
Back in 2016, Pew Research Center found that mobile users were interacting with long-form articles twice as long as short-form articles, which means audiences actually did have the attention spans for longer, more in-depth pieces. Moreover, Pew Research Center also found that both types of content received about the same number of views. Ultimately, Pew Research Center found that, article for article, long-form content attracted visitors at the same rate as short-form content. Today, we now know that long-form content can increase a brand’s online visibility, social shares, links, and website authority, according to Social Media Today. And, says Social Media Today, longer content is directly linked to higher search result rankings.
Many brands have taken notice of audiences’ love of longer researched pieces. Take BuzzFeed, for example, which was originally known for its viral listicles, says Inc. A few years ago, BuzzFeed hired a team of investigative journalists to create in-depth feature stories and high-impact journalism, Inc. reports. The shift from short-form to longer, more in-depth content has even made its way to social media, says Inc., with Twitter increasing its character limit and Instagram adding an album feature so users can post up to 10 images in a single post.
According to PointVisible, 91 percent of B2B marketers and 86 percent of B2C marketers planned to use content marketing in their 2018 campaigns. Why? “People are emotional beings,” says PointVisible. “We like relating ourselves to stories rather than to dull and raw content. By relating ourselves to stories, we‘ll spontaneously relate to the brand behind the story, too.” The key to successful long-form content — well, the key to any good content, regardless of length — is to make it meaningful. Tell authentic stories, and always tell the truth. If you’re not sure where to start, formats to consider include:
- The tried-and-true blog post
- Case studies
- White papers
- Articles you publish in your newsletter or in an industry publication
You don’t have to be a writer to put any of these pieces together, either. Your marketing department can help you put these pieces together, or there are many professional writers out there who can help you put these kinds of content marketing pieces together for your business.