Like many progressive tech companies, qSample has embraced a content marketing philosophy for branding and assistance to clients in the market research industry. Our work was even showcased recently in Piktochart—highlighting how leveraging the power of infographics has enabled us to thrive in a competitive field.
Content marketing truly relates to qSample’s philosophy of taking creative risks in order to continually engage an increasingly educated yet cynical culture (or convincing the “dinosaur in the boardroom,” as President Rudly Raphael calls the challenges of B2B initiatives in the 21st century).
Yet it seems content marketing might be in danger of becoming a dinosaur itself, stressed by recent and pack-like trends. Namely, I’m referring to the sought-after formula of article-length.
Those who contend longer is better
Leading the way are such luminaries as the SEO company Moz and content marketing guru Neil Patel. As examples, Moz declared that longer posts on their blog get linked more often, while Patel, in his How Long Should Each Blog Post Be? A Data Driven Answer, advocated length when it comes to content:
Once the word count exceeds 1,500 words, it’s in the golden share zone. In my own research on Quick Sprout confirms this. All of my posts that are more than 1,500 words receive 68% more tweets and 22% more Facebook likes than the articles with fewer than 1,500 words.
…I’ve shown you the data that proves that longer content gets better ranking, higher indexing, and more sharing.
So longer is better? Titan word counts make readers and Google happy?
It’s possible, considering the sterling data provided by those I just mentioned. However, that formula-driven attitude is a reason content marketing came into being: to eliminate the cut-and-paste, key word-stuffed, and mechanical content that plagued the internet before the arrival of the savior-algorithms of Panda and Hummingbird. We simply live in a more organic internet.
Those who contend shorter is better
Why go full circle if suddenly dry formulas begin to enslave content again? Why not look beyond to see the future belongs to those who takes creative risks?
Or we can look at some examples in the past where Ant-Man content created unforgettable classics—from individuals who took those creative risks but were recognized as savvy content marketers in their respective fields:
Shortest Poem: Adam by unknown author, although some credit famed poet Odgen Nash. It simply goes:
Shortest Short Story: Baby Shoes, Never Been Worn by Earnest Hemingway.
That’s the whole narrative. The title is the story.
This short story conjures many evocative notions to different readers. It’s as poignant as any long Greek epic because our imagination and experience sit on the front row of this story. Hemingway allegedly wrote it as a wager against someone who claimed he couldn’t write a story in six words or less. You really can’t get better copywriting than this in any agency.
Shortest Novel: The Dinosaur by Italian Augusto Monterroso. The entire story goes:
When he awoke, the dinosaur was still there.
This mention can be debated or even negated. Novels are generally classified as being at least 40,000 words in length. But in a summer where Jurassic World devoured movie records, let’s go with this.
Shortest Music Lyrics: I admit this is almost folly to tackle. There are countless instrumentals with brief voice insertions or background (e.g.: Why don’t we do it on the road? by The Beatles, where Paul just reiterates the title).
For the sake of argument (and maybe my word count!), a leading contender would be Five Years by Sugar Hiccup. The song goes
And he will never be back.
These lyrics repeat for a good five minutes.
Shortest film: Video is regarded as content, and a booming content marketing tool on the internet. It’s almost an impossible title to have, as there are whole film festivals dedicated to extremely short movies.
One would have to mention Fresh Guacamole. It’s considered the shortest film ever nominated for an Oscar. Thus, it’s noteworthy and it runs exactly 100 seconds.
Shortest sentence: There isn’t one. All written mediums have one-word sentences in many memorable works. On a side note, it’s notable that the longest sentence in all literature is in Ulysses by James Joyce. The bloody sentence is 4,391 words long.
(That might make Moz and Patel happy, though).
Yes, you may say, but what does that have to do with the hallowed present and the digital worlds?
One of the most renowned marketers today is Seth Godin. His blog draws incredible traffic. Guess how long his posts typically are?
Patel himself answers this question in the article, mentioning one post by Godin:
The rest of Godin’s posts are a few words longer or shorter. He might as well write about a dinosaur wearing baby shoes…
In this spirit, our primary research reveals that when it comes to surveys, shorter questionnaires, shorter questions and shorter sentences just promote better online research.
Those of us in between longer and shorter
All of this, of course, does not mean that shorter is better in the overall internet scheme of things. Again, content marketing (and online research) should be about taking creative risks to continually engage an increasingly educated yet cynical culture (and the boardroom dinosaur, with or without baby shoes). It goes without saying that spreadsheets and data should lead the way in any market research; but again, the point is not to have unimaginative numbers dominate the internet as in the past.
Search engines are more intuitive than ever, so qualitative entertainment now balances quantitative presentation. Internet audiences have basically become protagonists in a Nirvana song, always clamoring: Here we are, entertain us.
In essence, content should be as long or short as content needs to be. As an example, Upworthy found little association between length and attention. Here we are, entertain us.
Gandalf famously said in Lord of the Rings:
A wizard is never late, nor is he early, he arrives precisely when he means to.
As wizards of marketing and research warlocks, our content in various mediums should be as long as it’s meant to be. Somewhere in between the genius of Godin and Patel, we will find the voice to make clients and customers not just like our brand but experience our brand.
Here we are…