Long-Form Content: Still Legitimate

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Posted by Brenda Timm, Vice President – Strategic Communication & Online Services

In today’s go-go-go environment, quick digital conversations have become the norm with things like abbreviated lingo and limited character counts commanding our typical discussion habits.

So does that mean long-form content (a piece with about 1,500 words or more) has gone out the window?

Nope, even with the many distractions readers face, this is definitely not the case.

If you factor in all that added “noise” and information overload we’ve grown accustomed to today, people are still inclined to read longer posts, articles and feature stories under the right circumstances.

There is a clause, though: the content has to be relevant and do a good job of telling a story. A quote from NewsCred sums it up pretty well:

“Content must be valuable, educational, less promotional, and more about adding to the conversation. If content meets none of those requirements, then it is safe to say that no one will read it.” 

Some evidence to show that long-form content still works? A study by NewsWhip analyzed a month’s worth of the top 10 stories shared on Facebook from various major publishers like The Huffington Post and The New York Times. The majority within the most-read category weren’t short, 500-word stories, but instead, pieces that averaged nearly 1,000 words or more. The top stories from The New York Times averaged a whopping 2,012 words.

Those are some pretty impressive numbers considering the huge portion of consumers who are now reading (and scrolling) on their smartphones or other handheld devices.

These findings aren’t to say that long-form content is always the answer. It is not.

In many cases, those 140-character tweets or quick, visually-compelling ads and posts are the perfect way to grab your audience’s attention.

But when you’re trying to acquire a commitment, give perspective on a complex topic or establish an ongoing relationship, long-form content can prove to be very effective.

No matter what format you choose as you write, one key thing to remember: pay more attention to what your customers are hoping to learn instead of what you are trying to sell.

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