You’d think that the long-form vs. short-form content dilemma would end after nearly a decade of research. Studies show a consistent link between the length of blog posts and content marketing success. These studies have remained constant over the years, from Medium’s 2013 research to HubSpot’s 2020 results.
In fact, Buffer’s recent research into their own content length showed that blog posts that range from 1,600 words to upwards of 2,500 words yield, on average, the most social shares and leads. However, shorter posts ranging from 501 to 1,000 words also produce a generous number of social shares.
These numbers tell me one thing: Shorter posts are a great way to get your message out to your top-of-the-funnel audience segment. And, with the social shares they generate, they’ll drive more web traffic to your site.
It’s All About Commitment
If you think of content marketing as a dating scene for businesses, shorter articles and social media posts are like first dates. To earn your audience’s future commitment and get them into your sales funnel, you need to pack your shorter posts with information and problem-solving advice that earns their trust.
When to Use Shorter Posts
Decision-makers in larger companies don’t have time to read through a long post unless they trust the publisher. To get these people to commit to spending more time with your content, you need to put your best teams to work on these posts.
A content strategy that emphasizes saying more with fewer words will attract their attention. If the information you provide helps them solve an urgent challenge, they’ll be more likely to convert into subscribers.
- Use them in LinkedIn and social media: These pint-sized gems’ value doesn’t stop there, though. When you repurpose them into LinkedIn thought pieces and social media posts, you can amplify their reach even further.
- Expand them into longer posts, white papers, or ebooks: Here’s where putting your best teams onto your shorter posts pays off. Prospects that you hook with your shorter posts might need a more in-depth treatment of the topic to move them further along in the sales funnel. Skilled writers and video producers can handle the volume of research for a deep dive and turn it into an intriguing, yet thorough treatment of the topic.
- Create shorter versions of long-form content: If you have a white paper or longer post that performs well with its target audience, consider repurposing it into a short-form piece. If you condense it down into actionable chunks, you can even create several usable short-term posts from it. Combine those efforts with insightful social media and content analytics, and you can define an audience that will receive these posts with enthusiasm.
- Address serious prospects’ questions and objections: Chances are, your sales and customer service teams often face many of the same objections and questions. Content collaboration with these teams can help you come up with content that addresses these concerns. With a content marketing platform on which you can collaborate on, create, and store this content, you’ll have an arsenal of short-form content you can use to proactively address these issues with personalized, account-based marketing to your “big fish” prospects.
When to Use Long-Form Content
When prospects start to compare your solution with others, longer blog posts, extensive presentations, brochures, videos, ebooks, and white papers can provide them with the information they need to choose your brand over your competition.
If you segment your email lists and boosted social media content to target middle-of-the-funnel and bottom-of-the-funnel prospects, you can easily get long-form pieces into the right hands at the right time.
Targeted segmentation, along with a robust content automation solution, can simplify the process. For brands with prospects across time zones and national borders, this approach is a must.
Thought leadership content
Thought leadership content isn’t only for B2B audiences. In today’s highly skeptical market, even B2C companies need to produce thoughtful, authoritative content.
Gone are the days where a catchy commercial or print ad can drive a sale. Too many brands haven’t lived up to the promise their advertising offers.
And, unlike previous eras’ long-form content – you know, the kind that leads you on an everlasting wild-goose chase through single-sentence seductions, all ending in ellipses (“but first…”) – today’s thought leadership posts provide value for their audience and evidence for their claims.
You won’t see gushing testimonials from “Tiffany N” and “Andre Y.” Nor will you see unsubstantiated claims like “Your extra weight will disappear like butter melting in the sun” (don’t you wish). Or the perennial “Act NOW before the price doubles.”
Instead, both B2C and B2B thought leadership posts should corroborate their claims with their own research or links to authoritative sources in their industry. More importantly, such content focuses on its audience and their needs, as opposed to blatant promotional copy. To be most effective, these long-form posts should provide a thought-provoking, unique perspective on each topic it treats.
Account-based marketing pieces
Let’s go a little deeper into account-based marketing. Some of your company’s bigger prospects will need more in-depth content than simple answers to their questions.
For instance, your prospects’ engineering leadership team will doubtlessly want to see in-depth schematics of your new device, along with documented proof that it can streamline their manufacturing process. If your company creates software, your prospects’ IT department will need to know how it can integrate with their existing infrastructure – or replace it with greater efficiency. And, of course, the bean-counters won’t take it on faith that your new product will save them money. They’ll want details that show them exactly how it will accomplish that goal.
Repurpose and recycle to simplify content production
Though labor-intensive at the outset, long-form content is easy to repurpose as a set of short-form pieces, emails, social media posts, videos, live presentations, or podcasts. Provided you have a repository of past content at your fingertips, the only limit is your content teams’ imaginations.
There’s No One Right Answer to the Long vs. Short Dilemma
It’s not a matter of one content type versus another. Choose the length of your content – and its focus – by its purpose. Focus on the audience’s needs, craft stories that position the reader as the hero, and make your product the sword that slays the dragon – not the star of the show. Both short and long-form content work best when they build the kind of trust that leads to long-term commitment.
To take full advantage of the potential of every piece of content you produce, it helps to have a single platform to manage it all. DivvyHQ puts everything you need at your fingertips, from creation to publication and beyond. Get in touch for your 14-day free trial today!