The Right Content Mix: Short-Form Versus Long-Form Content

Posted by Allison Carpenter on Nov 18, 2016 9:45:30 AM
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the right content mix 

Having the right content mix is something that’s not easy to figure out. In fact, it’s something that even the most experienced marketers can struggle with. Sure, you can read a handful of articles that can educate you on the “ideal” content mix, but how to figure out what exactly is needed for your particular business is the tricky part. It comes down to understanding and getting to know your audience really well.

 

Knowing the types of content, topics, and media (liked we talked about in our post last week) that your audience responds well to is critical to the success of your content marketing plan. While there can be many unknowns when it comes to getting started with producing content, one good area to start is by assessing how your short-form versus long-form content performs.

 

Let’s talk about the benefits and drawbacks of each:

 

Short-Form Content 

Short-form content is any piece of content that is less than 1,000 words. It doesn’t require a serious commitment from your reader. Instead it serves as a high-level, light overview of a topic. Some examples of short-form content are tweets, Facebook posts, instagram posts, infographics, Snapchat, list posts, etc.

 

Pros:
  • There is an incredible amount of content that people are flooded with every single day. Chances are, especially if your readership is new, they are going to be scanning your content at first to see if it interests them. Short-form content fits the bill when it comes to this as it doesn’t demand a large amount of time or attention  
  • Short-form, multimedia content is far more likely to go viral and be shared
  • It’s more optimized for someone reading from their mobile device (which is the majority of people these days)

 

Cons:
  • While short-form content may be higher-level and hence more scannable, it is unlikely that you will make a huge emotional or thought-provoking argument in a shorter piece
  • Because you don’t have as much content as long-form content, there is less of an opportunity to include keywords and backlinks
  • Short-form content often doesn’t lend itself as a place for making a remarkable and unique argument on a topic

 

Long-Form Content 

Long-form content is about 2,000 words or more. It is demanding of your audience in terms of interest, engagement and time spent absorbing the piece. Some examples of long-form content include webinars, videos, and e-books.

 

Pros:
  • If you know your audience is specifically interested in a particular area, writing a well organized, lengthy thought piece on that topic can be very satisfying and gratifying to your readership
  • Google favors quality, lengthy content and thus likely ranks it higher on search engine results. More words means more ways to meaningfully include backlinks and keywords throughout the body of your content
  • Most content these days is short-form content, long-form content has the ability to stand out against the rest if done well
  • Long-form content infused with research, graphs and charts inspires your audience to share your content with other likeminded readers

 

Cons:
  • People sometimes don’t have time to read long-form content. This can be combatted by making sure your long-form content is organized with headers, subheaders, and bolding
  • Your reader might have a short attention span and tends to avoid and get overwhelmed by longer pieces
  • The body content from start to finish needs to be high quality. Nothing should be lengthy for the sake of creating long-form content

 

So where does this leave us? Both sound good and bad for different reasons. A good place to start may be incorporating a content mix of both. Test short and long-form content and measure how your audience responds. Think about how many clicks and shares you get and compare it to the “shelf life” of how long your content stays relevant. For instance, if you write a long-form blog post about self-driving cars, create a series of tweets, an instagram video, etc. that shares some of the key points of your post that could excite the viewers and increase readership.

 

When it comes to mastering the right content mix, it all comes down to how well you know your audience. Test, test, and continue to test. Refine. Optimize.

 

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Topics: Testing, social media