Is it Viable to Pursue Long Form Content?
3 minute read
Published on May 17, 2016
You’ve probably heard conversation about the decrease in human attention span, but to what extent is the damage?
In 2015, research was published that found goldfish to have a higher attention span than the average human. The rise in use of smartphones, and sudden boom in prevalence of short form media like Twitter and Buzzfeed have contributed to a population that desires their content in bite-sized pieces; easy to process and easy to forget.
So how can we create content that leaves a lasting impression?
Marketers pore over the issue of capturing their audience in a way that builds authority and keeps them coming back, trying new and inventive content marketing strategies like breaking long form content into smaller portions by way of serial marketing.
In a marketing world where long form content continues to be recommended amidst a rapidly shrinking attention span, it’s prudent to understand your audience and take a mixed marketing approach.
The Case For Long Form Content
While it seems counter-intuitive, there is a significant body of data that suggests that long form marketing is still effective. There is a positive association between post length and time spent on the page, meaning that long form content has the ability to hold attention, at least in moderation. Long form builds authority for a business and grips an audience when the content is strong.
The recent boom in long form is primarily due to our increased ability to analyze our marketing materials and its effect on SEO.
Where optimizing content for the highest search engine rankings is concerned, long form has been shown to be effective in building SEO and backlinks.
The Merits of Short Form Content
As hot as long form content is for content marketing, shrinking audience attention spans should give marketers pause for several reasons.
First, long form content has to have quality to be effective. Forcing long form marketing where it doesn’t belong will hurt SEO and cause an audience to lose interest.
If there isn’t enough information to present over the course of a long form piece, there is no reason to create it; to build inbound links to your site, there has to be interesting content to link to.
Short form lends itself strongly to social media, which is the form of marketing and communication that dominates the digital arena in many ways.
When you can present something in just a few hundred words, it’s easier to distill into 140 characters and tweet out to a captive audience.
Tailor Your Content to Its Purpose
The idea here isn’t to recommend one form over the other. Content that has enough substance to be spread over 1200 words or more would be doing itself a disservice to shorten into fewer, just like quick marketing pitches will be entirely ineffective if arbitrarily spread out into more words.
Ultimately as a marketer, you have to assume that all other content in the market is optimized to maximize marketing ROI, not simply that there is a length to shoot for in content marketing.
A mixed strategy that utilizes a variety of content lengths as needed is ideal for best results. Simply make sure that you know your audience through analytics and demographic research and cater your content to what you think will keep them engaged.
What do you prefer? Short form or long form content?