If you wanted to switch to solar power in your home, would you trust an in-depth research paper or a 350-word blog post on the topic? Or if you were a first-time investor in mutual funds, would you go to a storygraphic or an in-depth edublog to learn before investing your money?
These are interesting questions to ponder, especially as bite-sized, snackable content gains popularity. We live in an era of instant messaging, instant gratification, 140-character musings and plummeting attention spans. However, when it comes to building reputation and deep engagement, longform content is peerless.
Consider this finding on the effectiveness of longform content:
A Pew Research Center study on audience behavior metrics provided by the web analytics firm Parse.ly, found that despite the small screen space, multitasking habits and distractions from mobile notifications, users spend more time on average with longform articles than with short-form. The total engaged time with articles that are a 1,000 word long or more averages about twice that of the engaged time with shorter stories: 123 seconds compared with 57.
So, how has longform journalism found a footing in today’s mobile-centric world? Well-researched long form content can give you a broader, deeper view on a topic. It can establish credibility and thought leadership. It can drive engagement, discussion, and industry repute. What other form of content can achieve this?
Reputation and longform content
Well-written longform content is an excellent way to build your brand’s reputation for in-depth research, insights, expertise and thought leadership. Building and managing reputation is a continuous process. It is a function of the strategic actions you take, the knowledge and capabilities you demonstrate and the credibility you establish over time.
Typically, reputation building ensues over three stages in the digital world. Across these stages, both short and longform content can play distinct roles.
01. Garnering attention
Short, snackable content may lend itself well to attention generation and attracting more eyeballs. It may also be great for driving traffic to your knowledge-centric blog or corporate website.
02. Reducing uncertainty
Informational longform content can explain your purpose, process and performance. It can build credibility you want with your stakeholders.
03. Demonstrating competence
Knowledge-led longform content such as research-led blogs, white-papers and case-studies can demonstrate the depth of your expertise, establish a position of authority, thought-leadership and continued engagement.
In fact, in one study of Wikipedia articles, increasing the length of an article increased its trustworthiness. What’s more, according to Backlinko, in-depth, authoritative content also has a direct relation with search engine rankings.
With longform content forming a key means for people to learn about a broad topic or satisfy their knowledge needs, it is increasingly becoming an imperative in stakeholder engagement strategies. This holds true whether you’re a start-up or an established business, whether you’re in the B2B or B2C space, whether your audience is consuming content on mobiles, desktops or tablets or whether your knowledge sharing requirements are informational or thought-leadership.
As Marcus Sheridan said, “If Google has a choice to show two articles of the same keyword, which one is it going to choose: The one where readers average 45 seconds on the page or the one with 4.5 minutes on the page”. We rest our case.