The Future of Content Marketing: Long Form Content or Short Form Content

reading Ewan McGregor cineblog

Here’s the long and short of it…don’t look at me like that of course I was going to make that joke, it was low hanging fruit for Pete’s sake. Let’s get serious, though. Content is an important component for marketing services, products and reviews. It presents and preserves your brand and can even help develop it depending on the voice used. Imagine if Reebok was to use the voice of…let’s say Will Farrell instead of grimacing professional athletes in ad campaigns and what the perception of the brand would be.

Content can do the exact same thing for a brand. But, how much time (and thus money) should you invest in it? Should you go for short high volume content or sparser longer content? Let’s take a look what might work best and what experts recommend when it comes to long form or short form content marketing.

Let’s define! Yeah!

Since this article is intended for everyone, including the marketing illiterate, let’s define short and long form content. It’s easier to define long form content first and then define short form comparatively. So that’s what I’m going to do, here goes. Long form content is anything that is about 1.200 to 2.000 words (when we are talking about writing) and anything above 30 seconds to 10 minutes when it comes to video and audio. Short form content is anything that is less than that. See: nice, simple, clean. So which one is better? Be patient I’m getting to it.

The Pudding

Because the proof’s in the pudding, of the top 10 most visited websites in the world two of them are long form content type websites, one being Youtube and the other being Wikipedia. OK, OK so their explicit purpose for existing, is as a platform for content and do not use content for marketing per se, but in a purely subjective sense they use long form content. Of course coming in at number nine is Twitter, which is predominately a short form content platform. I know you are thoroughly confused at the moment so let’s dive even deeper into the matter.

Short Form?

Although long form content creation has proved a fruitful marketing strategy, there are numerous examples of the success of short form marketing also such as Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and even many Youtube videos. A transition has happened concurrently with the embracing of these platforms too, the emergence of personalities instead of brands or publishers. All of this is a result of the preferred means of media/content consumption of the largest share of the market, Millennials.

Millenials prefer to consume their content on mobile devices and through native apps. This demographic carry some serious gravitas online. The top two Viners(short Twitter videos), KingBach, and, Nash Grier, have 13.1 million and 12 million followers respectively. If there is one person that could be the patron Saint of personality instead of brand it would be Beyonce and her 31 million followers on Instagram. Even the largest following though is just a small portion of the 300+ million people that are currently Instagram users that marketers could potentially reach.

Pros and Cons

There are numerous benefits to long form content. It can lead to increased conversion (i.e. casual visitors that turn into paying visitors) and improved SEO which helps you rank in search engine lists. On the other hand according to eMarketer this year mobile ad spending will increase by 50% and in four years it will reach 72.2%. This is because a large majority of content is consumed on mobile devices and through mobile apps thus the reach is much wider. Short term content is much more shareable, but also readily forgettable and infinitely duplicated, so that’s an item that you need to consider when developing your marketing strategy.

They are both tools

It seems that both long and short form content have their time and place. Although short form content is infinitely more shareable compared to long form, long form (especially if it is original with a unique voice) can help establish you as a thought leader, someone that has something to say that is worth listening to. This is a result of content consumers being more discerning and having picked up on generic, farmed content thus disinterested in rehashing of ideas that have already been expressed.

Short form content can actually funnel clients to your website’s long form content too. Your choice also depends on the market you are trying to target…I hate to say it but the younger the market, the shorter content they’ll generally prefer. Millenials (which is the next big market) have been reared on short, concise content, including Vine videos, Memes, filtered Instagram photos and (admittedly corny) inspirational quotes superimposed over idyllic images.

The Arsenal

Consider all forms of content weapons in a larger arsenal, your strategy being one of the most instrumental or detrimental aspects of success. Variety and value should sit at the top of your priority list with volume and form of content lower down. The consumer of media/content isn’t preoccupied with SEO, keywords or interlinking. They care about the quality of your content and the niche that they are looking to delve into, be it of the comedic, professional or technical sphere. Again content is king.

Using various types of content in conjunction seems to one of the most proven and effective strategies. Great examples of this are websites dedicated to providing content such as Buzzfeed which (as of last year) boasts 150 million unique monthly views and its “direct” competitor Huffington Post which accrues 207 million unique monthly visitors. Both of these titans of content use a combination of short form, long form, video, audio and podcast content. Ultimately though they cater their content to the largest market share at the moment (millennials) create content in different voices and have offices all over the world.

So Long or Short Form?

As you I hope you have figured out by now, this article is Long form content. The reason it is long form is that the information necessary to fully explore and express which content option is best is dense and necessitates a longer and more in depth analysis. If I were to talk about, cats sitting like humans (which the internet apparently loves, a lot more than in depth analysis of content length) this article would be more effective in short form. It would also be chalked full of cat images.

Ultimately the decision lays in the strategy that you as a Marketing Manager or SEO Officer want to implement and using the appropriate content form to achieve that. Maybe it’s more of a matter of not overlooking SEO or transversely overlooking engaging your audience in lieu of search engine optimization, but doing both with equal efficacy. You simply decide which form is best for the situation at hand.

Do you have a different opinion on the matter? Have you had success only with short form or long form content? What has worked best for your company/organization/website? Let us know in the comment section below!