Long-Form vs. Short-Form Content: Which is Better?

shutterstock_251549524There’s been a long-standing debate in the content marketing industry about whether long-form or short-form content is more effective. One side argues that long-form content, which typically runs over 2,000 words in length, makes for a more in-depth and compelling read, while the other side contends that short-form copy, or blogs that are less than 1,000 words, is more easily digestible and sharable. Let’s take a deeper look into the pros and cons of each:

Short-Form Content:

Pros:

  • Appeals to readers: Let’s face it; today’s consumer has a very short attention span. Consumers who don’t have the time or the will to read through a dense 3,000 word post find shorter-form content more appealing as they can easily scan through the post.
  • Mobile friendly: If you’ve ever tried to read through a long article on your smartphone or tablet, you know how frustrating it can be. Today’s consumers are on the go, often catching up on news via their mobile device. Short-form content is perfect for those mobile users who want to quickly read an article.
  • Easily sharable: When was the last time a colleague or friend sent you a lengthy whitepaper or product guide to read while you’re on your lunch break? Probably never. Short, punchy blog posts are more likely to be shared via social channels.

Cons:

  • Not enough detail: While it’s certainly possible, it’s difficult to get into the nitty gritty of a topic in fewer than 1,000 words. Shorter content—for example, trends, best practices and how-to articles—are meant to entertain or simply inform readers.
  • Leaves the readers unsatisfied: When you only give readers a taste of something great, it can leave them unsatisfied and hungry for more insight.
  • Not good for SEO: For a long time, the 500-word post was the Holy Grail of blogging. Google, however, has now changed the game by updating its algorithms to reward longer-form content.

 

Long-Form Content:

Pros:

  • Displays expertise: Long-form content, such as whitepapers, case studies and product reviews, allows companies to establish credibility and thought leadership by showcasing their expertise on a particular topic.
  • Plays nice with Google: Google’s Panda is on the hunt for thoughtful in-depth content which gives readers detailed insight into a specific topic, rather than content that merely scratches the surface.
  • Increases engagement: Would you rather have a reader spend 45 seconds on your website or four-and-a-half minutes? The longer the article the more time readers spend on your site and engaged with your brand.

Cons:

  • Short attention spans: As stated above, today’s consumers don’t have the time or attention span to read through a lengthy, complex document unless it’s something of great value to them.
  • Takes time to produce: Speaking of time, marketers are swamped with various different tasks and don’t often have the time to develop detailed, long-form content. Whereas, a short blog post can be created in under an hour.
  • Less chance of going viral: It’s every marketer’s dream to have their content go viral. But in order to go viral, content needs to be sharable, which unfortunately isn’t the case for long-form content.

Both sides make very compelling arguments, leaving some content marketers scratching their heads as to what side to take. Well, I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to take a side; you can have your cake and eat it too!

The best content marketing strategy has a combination of both long- and short-form content to give audiences, as well as Google and the other search engines, exactly what they want. To determine what type of mixture is best for your company, think about your content goals.

Do you want to achieve more industry status? Or do you want to increase sharability? Determining what goals you want to accomplish will help you decide which content type you should invest in. Whether you choose short or long-form content, however, one thing remains certain: Always provide value.

Now’s your chance to weigh in on the debate; which do you prefer, short or long-form content? Connect with on Twitter @BNeuman28 to share your thoughts.

Editorial-Shoot-BrookeBefore she got bitten by the marketing bug, Brooke Neuman worked as a copy editor for Content Boost’s parent company, TMC. As a veteran Content Producer, Brooke draws on her leadership skills and writing expertise to help clients reach their marketing goals. She’s also the creative mind behind the Content Boost blog, featured articles and eNews platforms. When she’s not coming up with killer headlines, you can find her at the beach working on her tan, coaching lacrosse and enjoying her favorite pastime—shopping.  Brooke graduated from Endicott College—where she helped the Gulls win four-peat CCC Women’s Lacrosse Championships—with a degree in contemporary journalism.

2 responses

  1. […] struggles with white papers, take the opportunity to learn from someone who specializes in those longer form assets when you are paired with that individual on an […]

  2. […] Long-Form vs. Short-Form Content: Which is Better … […]

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