Go short or go home. Can your content plan survive on 6-second videos?

content measurement

By Michael Brito, {grow} Community Member

There’s no question … the world of content marketing is going “short.” Whether it’s infographics or Vine, brands must learn to master the art of short-form storytelling in this new media world.  Technology enables it … the consumer attention span (or lack thereof), demands it. So you might think that today, it’s go short or go home.

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 for learning and discovery.

Is short a dead end?

When was 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.  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 casually check our @replies, messages and follower count.  And then mosey on over to LinkedIn to see who has been stalking our profile.

When we use search, it’s because we want something and want it NOW.

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 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.

Content length and credibility

Data from the 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer tell us 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?

In some cases … maybe, if you an eager audience actively paying attention to the content you are sharing. Like a celebrity.

But what about the CIO of a company who’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.

Unfortunately, many brands today struggle with long-form content (Mark Schaefer recently characterized this as “rich content:” blogs, podcasts and videos). 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 break through 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 through your rich content? It probably takes more than 140 characters to establish thought leadership!


michael britoMichael Brito is a SVP at Edelman Digital and the author of, Your Brand: The Next Media Company, which is now available for preorder on Amazon. You can follow him on Twitter or read his social strategy blog.



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  • carmenhill

    Love this post, Michael. It’s a good reminder that just because short, social, easy-to-digest content like Instagram and Vine are fun additions to our content portfolios, it doesn’t mean everything should be that way. Not everything people want/need to know can be communicated in a content snack. I like to think of micro content as an “amuse bouche,” which I love. But it doesn’t replace dinner.

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  • Nice!

    I think people need to look at shorter blog posts at times as well. When I see a blog post that is several thousands words long, right away I ask myself. “Do I really want to spend the time to read this?” Most of the time the answer is a resounding No. I live by the law

    “Keep it clean, short, and simple.”

  • I found this most helpful. I try to do a longer blog post once a week, then one or two short posts. But my blog is about entertainment, for the most part, so even my longer posts aren’t terribly long. But yeah, I always ask myself how long I’d spend to read this and then try to trim accordingly.

  • @carmenhill:disqus hi, thank you so much. Yeah, we tend to forget (me too) about the need to tell long-form stories.. love you analogy! : ) I’m hungry now.

  • yeah I hear you, but if you are in the process of researching a new car or piece of technology, you might invest the time, right?

  • thanks for the comment @perilouspauline:disqus

  • True, there are exceptions to every situation.

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  • carmenhill

    I was talking about this with my colleague Eric Wittlake (@wittlake) and he had a great litmus test for content, whether 15 seconds or 15 pages: “Was it worth my time?”

  • uskovic

    Great article! All brands need a good mix of short form and long form content. Unfortunately most people are time poor and want short sharp to the point pieces. Long form content is valuable to the brand in many ways. Brands just need to be creative the ways they serve it up.

  • uskovic

    and I am more likely to give you my email address to download long form content eg white papers, ebooks, case studies etc

  • PeterJ42

    Effectively we are re-inventing advertising. This evolved from long print stories into 10 or 30 second visual spots which had a single simple message.

    But it didn’t work last time. The bad ads outnumbered the good. Why should it work better this time round, when people have more sources, more opinions other than yours and the opposition is a click away.

    The truth is people don’t care about short or long – they care about relevance to them and what they are trying to do.

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  • I hope it’s not a dead end cause there’s no choice in where things are going!

    Having a “content strategy” feels to me like there’s some assumption that one can remain in control of a brand. That not possible, and really never was.

    From the article here, I assume you aren’t one to get hung up in such ways.. I apologize if it appears I meant otherwise… having jumped on to read with my own content strategy LOL

  • We’ve been taking this to heart with our new website redesign. We are finally introducing the longer form of story-telling via a multi-author blog. In fact, I really like Andy Crestodina’s Content Chemistry and how it shows how to combine several short-form deliverables into a longer form…and vice versa, how to break up a long, dry deliverable into bite size chunks to suit different audiences.

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