Aren’t you tired of only snacking on content? I know I am. Short snippets became a key content marketing tactic, kind of like an appetizer. And that seems to be true even for platforms that can handle longer content, like Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+.
But it’s time to move beyond those content marketing snacks and bring on the main course, because the appetizer alone isn’t enough to satisfy the reader’s palate. Yes, sometimes we want content we can consume easily, but we also want more in-depth information – and that’s why content marketing needs to include long form content.
As Jay Baer says, we need both feathers (short, snacky updates) and bricks (content with more depth) to engage readers. If all you have are feathers, you won’t engage clients long term – that’s the job of the bricks.
Why You Should Include Long Form Content in Your Marketing
Good reasons to include long form content in the marketing mix include:
- catering for readers who want more depth
- establishing leadership and expertise
- improving SEO (more on that in a moment)
- giving topics the amount of detail they actually need to be useful
That’s why marketers need to focus on customer magazines, white papers and other in-depth content. It’s an area where some marketers fall short, and even when they HAVE long form content, there are still some issues to troubleshoot.
Why Some Long Form Content Fails
1. It’s Focused on Print
Often, long form content is print based. That’s a big mistake and a poor content marketing tactic. We already know how the market is changing, so why remain wedded to technology that won’t work for most of your readers? Even when content is available in digital form, some marketers replicate their print products exactly, using PDFs or flipbooks. Those don’t work for everyone, and especially don’t work for the huge number of mobile device users. Replicating the print product is the worst of both worlds, because you can end up with long form content that users can’t navigate or view easily.
2. It’s Not Mobile
Let’s talk more about mobile device users. You might think that because they’re using mobile devices they don’t want to read long form content. That’s simply not true. Phone screens might be a bit small, but users with phablets and tablets love the reading experience and are happy to read more in-depth content on those devices. Take your cue from Google, who keep enhancing their Knowledge Graph with in-depth content aimed at mobile device users.
Mobile device users take it for granted that content will be accessible wherever they are, and if you’re not providing it, they will look elsewhere. Accessibility is not just about being available, but about being usable. That’s where some long form content falls short. Marketers need to make sure readers can use taps, swipes and gestures to access content. They need to make it easy for readers to resize and rotate content. In other words, content marketers need to ensure that their content works well no matter where people are reading it.
3. It’s Not Engaging
Engagement – it’s a buzzword, but it’s still important. Ideally, you want readers to connect with your brand via your long form content. To do that, use the capabilities of your device and:
- include tappable links that take readers straight to the resources you want to highlight
- add platform-specific calls to action (for example, for downloading your app)
- embed social sharing tools into the publishing platform
You can also engage readers by creating a schedule (or making an appointment) so they expect regular publications from you. That’s part of the process of leading readers through the conversion process so they take the desired action.
The Future of Long Form Content in Marketing
The truth is that long form content isn’t going away. Only recently Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com, acquired Longreads . When the major content management system buys a major player in long form content, it’s a sign that marketers should pay attention. Add that to Google’s own focus on long form (in-depth articles for the win) and you can be sure that this is the right direction to take with your content marketing.
From now on, it’s not enough for marketers to focus on content snacks like tweets, memes and other short social media updates. From now on, your content marketing tactics must include the creation of resources that give the depth and engagement that audiences are increasingly looking for.
Retweet this: You might think that because they’re using mobile devices they don’t want to read long form content.
Retweet this: Ideally, you want readers to connect with your brand via your long form content.
Retweet this: The truth is that long form content isn’t going away.