Why communicators shouldn’t abandon long-form content

Heftier pieces have distinct benefits, but there are potential pitfalls, too. Here’s what to weigh before commissioning more substantive campaigns.  

Longform content tips

In the last decade, we’ve seen a surge in tweets, sound bites, video clips and other “snackable” content meant to satiate our ever-shrinking attention spans.

For many companies, the communication credo has been, essentially, “Shorter is better.” However, the tide may be turning toward longer, more robust messaging.

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Just in the last year:

Longer is not necessarily better, but there are benefits to beefier content. Here are a few reasons for communicators to hop onto this trend:

  • Separate yourself from the pack. Anyone can bang out a 400-word blog post filled with hot takes. If you take time to craft more substantive articles, however, you’ll probably earn more traffic, more backlinks and more respect in your industry. You might also win over new fans. Just remember that inflated word counts do not equal in-depth, data-driven, well-researched or interesting content.
  • Squeeze more social media juice. Social media sharing is down 50 percent since 2015. One way to buck this alarming trend is to produce longer pieces, which tend to garner more shares and interactions.
  • Control, shape and dictate the conversation. Going longer enables you to create and steer your own narrative. Instead of relying on the news media to disseminate your message—or being forced to respond defensively to accusations or rumors—you can become your own publisher.

Producing more in-depth pieces is not without hazards, of course. Beware these long-form pitfalls:

  • Prepare for out-of-context sound bites. The more words you write, or the more video you upload, the more room there is for error. Scrutinize every word you publish—lest your readers pounce on typos, tone-deaf quotes or out-of-context phrases.
  • It takes time and money. It takes skill, too. The whole point of long-form content is to produce insightful pieces packed with useful, interesting information. If your plan is to fill out word counts with blather, don’t bother. Be prepared to allocate resources, time and talent toward producing more substantive content.

How will you adapt your strategy to capitalize on this potentially fruitful trend?

Gabe Ross is an account executive for Stanton, a communications firm with offices in New York and California.

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