I have been involved with blogging since 2004. Over the 12 plus years I have been blogging I have seen many things come and go. One thing that goes against everything you would think is long form content performs better. It goes agains common sense. Meaning that shorter content should be the thing you want on the go while reading on mobile. However, Pew Research did a study showing the opposite.
Over the last few years I have been involved in surveying readers. Without question on most blogs we run the survey its almost always split down the middle. Half love long form and half want short form. I think it’s great to have a mix of content not just one form. If the content is good people will read it no matter the length of the post. Some days I write really short content and I want to do more long form. The problem is finding a topic and the time to write it.
So what did the Pew Study find?
- Readers spend 2x as much time on long form content on mobile
- If a reader follows a link from the same website they are more likely to spend more time on the article
- Facebook drives traffic while Twitter spends more time on the article
- People return to content on the phone. Viewing it more than once, these people spend more time on the content
- Users who visit a long form content article are likely to return to read more on the site.
One thing i found particularly interesting is the Facebook vs. Twitter. I have found this to be true. Facebook used to be a great driver of traffic and time on the article. After the curated news feed, content from brands is getting pushed down. This allows less people to see the post and then go to the content. Twitter has now become a better place for people to discover content. This study shows that they spend more time on content over people referred by Facebook.
The next interesting thing is returning to the content more than once. I do this quite often. I will see an article on Facebook or Twitter and will save it and come back later. The first time I skim the article. If it’s very interesting and I don’t have time to read. I click save. Then when I have more time I read the article. This will lead to the last point. If they site has suggestions from their site and other content I’m more likely to read more.
What should you do?
- You should plan content and allow for longer more in depth content.
- Have your site/blog set up to recommend related content to readers and not third party content
- Make sure you promote in all social channels and tag links to compare Twitter and Facebook.
- Double check to make sure your site is responsive and mobile friendly, if not you may loose traffic
- Check your analytics on the Google Analytics tab to see where your readers are spending time.
This is a very interesting study. I focused on the key findings. The article itself is 13 pages long. Its not something I want to report on verbatim. It covers a lot more depth than I am doing here. I highly suggest you read the study and see how it can benefit you and your brand. Find the Long Form Study at the Pew Website.