Content Marketing IV: Sometimes Long and Deep Trumps Short and Sweet

Six-second Vine videos, 140-character tweets and listicles that substitute snark and attitude for substance and useful information. Sometimes it seems like the Internet was expressly designed to cater to — or should that be encourage? — ADHD. It certainly seems that way when you listen to marketers who say Internet users only scan online content rather than actually reading it.

Sure, that’s true when the subject matter warrants a quicky video or disposable tweet but think about it: Do the marketing mavens who insist that short content is always the best content really believe that aesthetic consumers make their medibeauty decisions based on snippets and snapshots of information?

Anybody who has been in the profession for longer than the time it takes to read a tweet knows that’s not the case. Consumers considering aesthetic procedures spend weeks, months and even years researching procedures, weighing competing options and reading reviews from those who have gone before them. In fact, nearly one-half (48%) of RealSelf community members conduct online research for more than a year and 17% do so for 3 years or more.

Providing the content they’re looking for does more than facilitate their efforts — reducing friction, so to speak — it also give doctors the opportunity to share their expertise, counter misinformation and help patients become more informed consumers. Doing so — that is, by becoming part of the process — is also the key to becoming an empowered doctor just when it can have the most impact.

So, yes, there are all sorts of opportunities for quick-hit interaction á la Twitter, etc., but the fact remains that long-form content should also be part of your online-marketing strategy. Here are 3 reasons why:

Long-form content facilitates storytelling

A tweet can easily generate a laugh or a smile but sympathy, tears or deep understanding? Probably not. The fact is humans are hard-wired to respond to stories from and about other people and long-form content provides the ideal platform for sharing them.

Less obviously but equally important, storytelling works as a sort of stealth marketing. As  content marketing specialist John Rugh notes,

One reason well-crafted stories can be such powerful marketing tools is that they have the effect of drawing the reader into them in such a fashion that he won’t feel like you’re trying to sell him; he’ll sell himself for you.

Long-form content provides great SEO

While there’s no hard and fast rule about what constitutes “long-form,” many experts suggest stories of 1,200 to 2,000 words. Not surprisingly, perhaps, such stories offer platforms for more use of keywords (and keyword variations), more links and the sort of in-depth analysis that Google uses to ascertain quality content, all important factors in SEO.

In fact, Google has explicitly stated that roughly 10% of people’s searches revolve around subjects that warrant in-depth analysis vs. a quick answer. And independent research has found a direct correlation between content length and search rank.

Long-form content gets shared

In an environment that rewards the latest meme or viral video, it may be surprising that long-form content is shared as often as it is but it’s an unfair, apples-to-oranges comparison. Short-form content can boost traffic — who doesn’t like sharing funny talking-dog videos? — but it’s not likely to get people to stick around, visit additional pages or fill out a form.

Long-form content that gives them fresh insights and/or relevant information, on the other hand, can and often does. In fact, studies have shown that long-form content — stories of 1,000 or more words — is among the most-shared types of content on social media.

Doctor Takeaway

The more you tell the more you sell

There are all sorts of tips and tricks you can use to make your long-form copy more digestible — subheads, images, callouts/pull quotes, etc. — but the real key is to remember that it’s not the number of words you produce that provide the value, it’s the value those words provide. And while it often seems that attention spans are shrinking by the minute, people will stick around if they’re getting what they need. As the folks at Conversion Rates Experts put it,

The media would have us believe that people no longer have any capacity to concentrate. In reality, you cannot have a page that’s too long — only one that’s too boring.

About Rob Lovitt

Rob Lovitt is a longtime writer and editor who believes every good business has a great story to tell. He has written for dozens of magazines and websites, including NBCnews.com, Expedia.com and the inflight magazines of Alaska, Horizon and Frontier airlines.

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