The era of bigger, better content marketing has arrived
When it comes to creating content as part of your content marketing strategy, whether it is video, written material or even social media communications, the message is always to make it regular new, fresh and relevant content. Alongside that message, a new idea is emerging and gaining momentum that longer content is much more valuable than shorter content, providing that it is good quality content. Does that mean that we have to produce reams upon reams of in-depth lengthy content on a daily basis to fulfill our content marketing obligations?
For most small (and even large) businesses, the idea that we have to produce huge amounts of content just to stay in the game is horrifying. For one thing, it is expensive to produce content. It is also very time consuming. And perhaps the most important point is that there is only so much that can be said on a given subject at any one time.
So how do we balance this need for lengthy, quality content with the demand for regular fresh content?
Some businesses really go to town on content Marketing. Perhaps they can afford to spend a fortune on third party content producers. Perhaps they have time to kill. Most businesses have neither of those luxuries, so must do the best they can with the resources they have. And more often than not, that is perfectly adequate. In fact, as part of a tightly planned content marketing strategy, less is more really can be the case for the majority of businesses using content as a marketing channel. But one thing is for sure; very few businesses manage to pull off producing vast amounts of good quality content and benefitting from it.
So where did this new idea for lengthy content come from? After all, most of us had it hammered into our addled brains that 400 words was the optimum word count for just about everything. Vlogs, blogs, articles, research papers, web pages. Nothing could escape from the 400 word limit (except tweets). Anyone who wrote more than 500 words was a rubbish writer, unable to articulate themselves succinctly and self-edit. Nobody was reading their content; they were bored after the first 400 words. Not only that, but if people had to scroll their mouse ball to get to the end of your content, well, that was it. You’d had it. No-one was going to buy from you because you made them move their finger.
Things have changed. Actually, scrap that. Things haven’t changed because things are exactly the same as they always were. The current content marketing fashions have changed. 400 words have their place, most definitely. But 1500-2000 words is where it’s at. You can’t develop an argument in less. And you can’t engage your reader unless they do have to move their finger to get to the end. That’s engagement, after all, isn’t it?
We all know now that content has to be contextual and it has to reflect its own purpose. What that means is that content can be any shape, size or format providing that a) it is a suitable format for the message and b)it achieves the objective assigned to it when it was created. It also has to be of excellent quality, but size is not an indicator of quality. In fact, the only real correlation between quality and size in content production is that producing too much can have a negative impact on quality because quality can suffer in a drive to create more than there is room or demand for.
How much content you do produce depends upon your business and your audience. Content marketing companies and other information service businesses can get away with producing vast amounts of content. Whether that is of good quality or not is or whether it should even be produced on such a scale is another argument. The point is, there is scope for large amounts of content to be produced because the subject material exists. A company who specialises in designer sunglasses has a much more limited scope. Over-production of content will not only be exceptionally difficult in the context of your subject, it could well do harm to your businesses.
How do you decide how much content to produce, and of what length?
Quite simply, your content marketing strategy should help you to define the appropriate amount and type of content, as well as the channels through which it will reach your audience. Your audience isn’t the same as my audience, so we offer different types of content and different amounts of content through different channels.
This blog post is longer than many and shorter than some I write. You are reading it now and I can tell you that it is the right length for you, my audience. I don’t have a set word limit on my blog posts. They are all the appropriate length to present and discuss the subject. If I am making a point or describing something that happened to me, it may well be shorter than is acceptable. If I want to explore an issue or discuss a more complex idea, I will create longer posts, or I might create a longer resource for our resource centre. It is all about context and audience, and fashion shouldn’t dictate that.
What about SEO?
And so we come to the crux of the debate. SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation. Do the content length and quantity rules still apply when we’re trying to be found amongst all the other content out there?
Absolutely, and this is an additional factor you need to consider when creating your content marketing strategy. SEO won’t matter that much if you are going directly to your audience with your content through your predefined channels. But if you need your audience to find you easily, you need to use that content to rise to the top and this is where longer content appears to be a real winner, as does fresh and new.
We discussed those businesses that churn out content incessantly but if you are in a niche kind of business (like designer sunglasses), then you aren’t competing with these content creators. So high quality, in-depth (and short as part of the mix) content, well optimised, is going to make your business the cream in the milk. And if you can provide this great content on a regular basis (and regular doesn’t mean every day), then you will benefit enormously in the SERPS and be connecting with the right kind of audience in the right kind of way.
So more or less?
The idea that less is always more is outdated and as you can see, wrong on two major counts. Creating a lot of content for the sake of it, or because you think you should, is a bad strategy. The focus has to be on better quality content. That doesn’t mean shorter. By less, we don’t mean fewer words. Fewer, high quality, longer pieces will service your business well for many years longer than hundreds of hastily written posts that you will be ashamed of in a few months.