Is Long-form Content Dead?
The digital revolution that has overtaken our society in recent years has completely changed the way we interact with content, whether that’s in the B2C or B2B world.
In our day-to-day lives, we’re constantly bombarded, whether it’s through our phones, our computers, our televisions or even through print. Stop for a moment and think about your own life. How has your relationship with content evolved?
For many of us, myself included, this relationship has become centered on instant gratification – scrolling through Instagram posts and stories, an incessant stream of images, gifs and concise captions; sending short 10 second videos on Snapchat, watching seemingly endless streams of video clips; scrolling through Twitter and engaging with others, granted all in 140 characters or less.
At this point, it seems we so rarely come across long-form content that it’s likely no longer relevant, right?
Not quite… would you believe me if I told you that that wasn’t the case.
Long-form content has been around for quite a while, much longer than the high-tech, instantaneous, sometimes sparse content we tend to engage with now. From newspaper articles, to magazines, to blogs, long-form content itself has evolved over time, but it’s far from gone.
Pew Research Center recently conducted research to analyze the difference in engagement between long-form and short-form content, specifically through smartphone usage. What they discovered may surprise you. They determined that consumers will spend twice the engaged time on a long-form article than they would on a short-form article.
With this evidence, it’s clear that this underestimated and likely underutilized form of content can have traction and success with consumers. When we translate this knowledge into the marketing sphere, it is plain to see that long-form content is a useful tool we should all be working on producing more of.
Engagement is Key
In order to have content that becomes successful, it’s imperative that it engages with consumers. This is a two-step process.
The first facet of creating engaging content is connecting with your audience. Especially with pieces that surpass 1,000 words, you have to be writing something that people will want to keep reading. Thankfully, you have the liberty to go into detail and expand on topics in an article of this length. You can start with a more general statement or idea and get more specific as you continue, taking your readers on a journey, whether that’s purely educational, something you find entertaining or for a marketing purpose.
This form of content is also great for creating a multi-faceted experience for readers, it allows you to include other mediums within the piece. Not only can you include photos to enhance your descriptions, you can also intersperse videos, infographics, screenshots and charts to help keep readers engaged. This will help those of us that are visual learners – as much as we enjoy reading text, putting a visual spin on it definitely makes the content more dynamic.
As much as it is important to keep a consumer engaged once they start reading, it’s imperative you get them directed to your article in the first place, this is where the second facet comes into play. Engaging with other forms of media will ensure your long-form content is distributed to consumers. Thanks to the added length of long-form, there are many more opportunities for your piece to get discovered in search engines. Research shows that longer content tends to rank higher within Google. Search engine optimization is a crucial component of long-form content nowadays as it determines how likely your article will be discovered when readers are searching specific keywords or even general ideas.
It’s also easier to include internal links when you’re writing longer articles. In research from BuzzSumo and Backlinko they found that, on average, long-form articles have 77.2% more links than short-form articles. There are two kinds of links you can include. Inbound links will direct people to other sections of your site, which is great for marketing as it allows people to organically discover more about your company, products or blog. As well as that, you can include outbound links that will direct readers to other sources, adding a new dimension to the ideas you’re elaborating on.
Strategies for Success
Although you have more freedom when creating long-form content, there are still specific things you can do to achieve a certain level of success. Due to the detailed nature of long-form articles, it can be smart to connect and collaborate with professionals in the topic you’re writing about. This will guarantee a level of legitimacy to what you create. On top of that, once you provide trustworthy and helpful content to consumers they will likely come back to your website or social media channels to see future content you supply.
Using descriptive language and literary devices, like metaphors and imagery, is also a useful technique to implement in order to keep your reader entertained, especially in cases where topics may be a bit one-dimensional otherwise. This is especially true if you are creating a post purposefully to highlight your own products or services. This will steer your content away from a promotional tone and draw in consumers.
Another reason long-form can be so successful is due to its versatility. It can be shared across various platforms, for instance through your social media accounts. That can be a very successful way to create engagement with followers. Think for a second about how popular magazines share their long-form articles through their social media – I know I have clicked through to read multiple cover stories on my favorite artists and actors after seeing it advertised on social media. It can also be helpful to connect with influencers and collaborate with them, perhaps have them share your articles on their social media.
Longer articles can also be converted in numerous ways to create additional resources, for example E-books and podcasts. As well as that, you can take specific components of your long-form articles and create short-form pieces, diversifying your content and providing more resources for your consumers.
Although it may seem easier to follow suit with the digital revolution and embody the “less is more” mindset, in this case that might not be the right call. As much as we’ve all had moments where writing 300-500 words seems so much simpler, it is clear that it will not leave us with the most desirable outcome. Expanding on ideas and having the freedom to write as much as you want is not only appealing to consumers, but it is a marketing tactic you can implement moving forwards.
If that didn’t convince you that long-form content works, but you’ve made it to the end of this article, you are proof that long-form articles are effective. Try one out yourself and see what kind of engagement you receive!