Saturday 24 February 2018

A Short Story About Long-Form Content

Brands must learn to master the art of short-form storytelling.  Technology today enables it; and consumer attention spans or lack thereof, demand it. Whether if be a 15 second video, a photo or 140 characters, there is no doubt that brands must learn how to tell their story quickly and efficiently, and for good reason.

There is a content and media surplus; and there is an attention deficit in the minds of consumers. These two factors alone make it extremely difficult trying to reach consumers.

But with all they hype about short-form storytelling, too many brands often forget about the longer brand narrative and they are making a big mistake by doing so. Even with the rise in social media usage, consumers are still using Google; and they are still using it a lot. It’s the home page for millions of people globally and the gateway into learning and discovering new things.

When is the last time you saw a tweet or Vine video in the search results? I would guess, never, unless of course you are searching for a specific account or person. And I guarantee that you’ll NEVER see a Facebook update or Instagram photo in the search results for obvious reasons.  Facebook is building its own search engine. We use search daily and when we do, we are on a mission. It’s not like Twitter or Facebook where we scroll through our feeds and causally check our @replies, messages and follower count.  And then mosey on over to LinkedIn to see whose been stalking our profile.

When we use search, it’s because we want something and want it now. It could be movie tickets, information about a new car or research in the latest networking technology.

The question you have to ask yourself is whether or not your content is actually surfacing in the results.  If your focus and financial investment is purely on short-form storytelling, you are missing out on a huge opportunity to reach new prospects, sell additional products and demonstrate thought leadership.

Hopefully, you have some really smart engineers, scientists and product managers that work for your company.  And they most likely have a very specific point of view about technology or the industry, which can be used to start conversations and influence people.

Data tells us from the 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer that when it comes to trust and credibility, “people like yourself”, “subject matter experts” and “employees of a company” always rank high when people are seeking information about a company.

But is it even possible to demonstrate thought leadership in a tweet or a status update?

Of course you can by using a series of tweets or status update, yes. But this is assuming that you have an audience and that they are actively paying attention to the content you are sharing.

But what about the CIO of a company that’s interested in investing in new data center technology? Yeah, they may go to Twitter and browse their feed, that’s a given.  But I guarantee you this.  They are going to a search engine because they know, just like you know, that Google knows best. They want information and they want it now.

Unfortunately, many brands today struggle with long-form content (i.e. corporate blogging) with some pundits even saying that corporate blogging is dead. I disagree. With the shift from “brand to media company” long-form content is even more critical for telling stories across the entire digital ecosystem.  The good news is that there are technology vendors that can help augment long-form storytelling initiatives. Vendors like Contently, eByline and Skyword offer brands with a network of professional writers and journalists that can help feed the content engine with high-quality content.

Short-form storytelling is important. It’s your attempt at reaching those busy consumers and breaking the clutter with compelling, creative, real-time and visual content. But why not try to make their lives easier by allowing them to find you? You can do so by spending a little more of your time and resources telling a more complete story that exceeds 140 characters.

Image credit: umjanedoan

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