August 21, 2014

Long Form vs. Short Form Content, which is right for your business? The answer is both!

In today's ever changing search engine algorithm Internet and fast paced society, getting information to your target audience or customer in the right format is becoming harder and harder for small to mid-sized businesses to figure out. One social media expert or article says short form, yet another says long form! It can be quite confusing to a marketing department head. Who do you listen to? My answer is both are correct.

Content marketing expert Bill Belew says long form content is only to be used judiciously, under the right circumstances. “Posting quality, bite-sized (short-form) articles multiple times a day versus once a day produced more than 10 times the organic search results.” says Belew. While that may be the case, I say it depends on the audience and target market for your organization or product, so it's important do the due diligence first to make sure that you are not wasting resources creating something that does not appeal to your target market. And, with the search engine algorithms like Google Panda lowering the rank of "low quality or thin sites," and returning higher quality, more meaty sites near the top of the search results, long form content should definitely be a part of your messaging strategy.

In many cases both strategies need to work hand in hand, complimenting each other. So first, let's define each and see where and how it may fit into the overall messaging of your organization.

Short Term Content
The primary purpose of short-form content is to drive traffic and build brand awareness. Examples of short-form content include posts on social media platforms such as Twitter , FaceBook, Pinterest, YouTube, LinkedIn, Vine, etc. Effective short term content is created and consumed quickly and produced frequently and consistently. Short form content is used to engage and grab the attention of your target audience. It does not, however, provide the necessary in-depth information your potential customer will need to make the decision to buy your product or service. If the majority of your readers are short for time due to busy schedules, time constraints, or intensive work hours, then short form is the way to go as you can get them the pertinent info they may need to hear, quickly and efficiently. In most cases, if done right, this audience will access the long form content at a later date or time, garnering the information you need them to have in order to 'convert' them into a client or customer.

The downside of short form content is that it has a high turnover rate and its virtual life is limited to a short period of time. Savvy social media/content managers understand this however and overcome this aspect by making sure this content is constantly and consistently produced, at the right times, in order to maximize its exposure to the largest percentage of your audience possible.

Long-Form Content
The purpose of long-form content is to provide detailed information specific to your and your 'prospect or customers field of interest. It is often consumed by members of your target audience, especially professionals that are already interested in your area of expertise, products or the solutions you represent. This interest is often instigated by the short-form content you produce. Examples of long-form content include longer blog posts, articles, white papers and e-books. Long form strategy works, but it should be engaging, informative, helpful and interspersed occasionally.

The downside to long form content is that in today's fast paced society, you may lose a percentage of your target audience simply due to time constraints. Again, the savvy social media/content manager knows this and can over come this obstacle by producing, quality, fun, easy to access and easy to read content that compels the reader to 'make the time' because the content gives them the information or solutions that are pertinent and important to their lives, businesses or professions.

So you see, both are important but, they play different roles in your messaging strategy. Short form content should be the conduit to your long form content. Balance in everything is always key.

Just food for thought...

Lou

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