This was the question raised in a recent Forbes articles. And it’s an important one, especially for professional services firms for which “thought leadership is one of the most powerful methodologies for generating new business opportunities.” Talk about ROI! It’s no wonder professional services firms have collectively become content powerhouses.
The Content Conundrum…
We’ve written before about the content conundrum currently facing many B2B brands. The proliferation of content as a marketing tool has led to one of its main challenges: in a marketplace where every brand is a publisher, how can your content stand out? Add into the mix our collective shrinking attention span and preference for digital consumption through platforms that favor, or in some cases require, brevity (say, in 140 characters or less), and it’s easy to see why “snackable content” has become a buzzword for many B2B marketers.
But a recent article from Contently suggests that high volumes of short-form content may not actually be the most effective approach for generating awareness and engagement. In fact, the article points to some interesting stats showing just the opposite.
One of the most compelling was a recent analysis of the 10 million most-shared online articles that suggests that long-form content is more likely to be shared across social media and email than shorter content. The logic being that since there is an over-saturation of bite-size or “snackable content,” there is less competition with more in-depth pieces and therefore it is easier to stand out.
“Thoughtful long-form content is actually your best chance to go viral and make an impact.” – Contently
Of course it’s worth noting that to connect with B2B buyers in the age of information overload, length alone isn’t enough. “To capture audiences’ attention and truly drive purchase decisions, brands need content that is high quality.” To this end, Contently followed five B2B technology brands that are successfully creating the “holy trinity” when it comes to content: high quality, long-form and purposeful. The resulting analysis is worth a read for any B2B marketer regardless specific industry.
So, what does this really mean for B2B brands? Should brands stop producing short-form content altogether? Probably not. But it does point to changing preferences of B2B audiences and the need to align content strategy with those evolving consumption behaviors. The graph below from eMarketer highlights some of the more popular content formats for B2B buyers.
One of the advantages of digital consumption is the ease with which we can track, test and optimize. This means, B2B marketers are more empowered then ever to experiment and identify the content formats, topics and channels that most engage their target audiences. For many brands, this may mean finding the right mix of long- and short-form content at each stage in the customer journey.