By Janaina Scalise, Senior Planner and Andrew Roberts, Managing Partner In response to a Drum Vox Pop question that t he age of bite si...

Longing for longform in marketing


By Janaina Scalise, Senior Planner and Andrew Roberts, Managing Partner

In response to a Drum Vox Pop question that the age of bite sized media is seeing a resurgence of its comfortable long form component, despite our attention spans shrinking into oblivion with a quick fix of 140 characters. Facebook Instant Articles, the Guardian’s ‘The Long Read’, Snapchat Discover suggests that people are craving more insight into the things they are interested in rather than just flashes of information. The Drum Network asked its members what they thought about the resurgence of longform, and if they thought it was here to stay.

Janaina response: 

The shift should be from format to relevance. There has been a clear appetite for substantive, well-crafted quality posts that engage readers as anything that is short and snappy might come across as ‘just another advertising line’. Each case is different though. You can also have a short form piece that is striking and makes me want to know more. The main objective is to help readers get to the answers they want faster and that means being where they are and having a clear, relevant message. It is still about meeting quality criteria. The reason why digital marketers and brands are gravitating more towards the long form content has all to do with visibility on search engine and the advantage of being able to provide a deeper view on a topic however, for readers, there will be moments where they will feel more like scanning through a piece of information rather than delving into it. And that’s why I’d aim for what is appropriate and relevant. The format is a consequence – it’s simply what works best.

Andrew's response:

I received a book for Christmas I can’t put down. It's called ‘Letters of Note’ , a collection of 125 of the world's most entertaining, inspiring and unusual letters, celebrating the power of written correspondence with letters such as a note from Mick Jagger to Andy Warhol that contains a wonderfully laid-back design brief for a Rolling Stones album cover to a handwritten note from Queen Elizabeth II to U.S. President Eisenhower which is accompanied by Majesty’s personal scone recipe. I realised very quickly that the reason the book is so enthralling is the way that people can describe humour, sadness or just tell a great story, in short it is a celebration of the written word. It also struck me that this is a long forgotten art, after all do you remember the last time you wrote a proper letter ?

Technology is an easy target for the decline in long form content but with paper book sales on the rise (at the expense of ebooks) and an apparent resurgence in interest in reading I don’t believe that people ever really forgot about long form content it just looks like that. Of course social media is the villain in this story but this is evolving too with brands realising that to properly engage with their consumers they must create genuinely interesting, relevant content. And to my mind you can’t beat the craft and emotion that long form copy can evoke just read Iggy Pop’s letter of advice to a troubled young fan or the riposte from a freed slave to his old master it will grab you from the start and leave you thinking about long afterwards.

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