Content, the long and short of it

“How long should this video be?” Hands up for how many times you’ve heard or been asked this question.

It sounds like a simple question, that should have a simple answer. But it doesn’t. As marketers we’ve been conditioned to think automatically about 3-second view rates, a 60% bounce rate on 400 word content or a 15-second Instagram video. Over a simple answer of how long it ACTUALLY needs to be.

Thanks to channel outputs, we’re under constant strain to remain relevant and achieve KPIs meaning we have to think about the end result more than the process (thanks for that, Zuckerberg). We’re concerned about getting it done and achieving what we expected for brands. We are thinking less about the content and more about the results. We’re thinking less about the story, and more about the desired outcome. But we need the reader/listener/viewer to buy into the story first.

Enter 10x content, the latest (circa 2016) buzzword in content marketing, essentially telling everyone what they should know already: your content should be 10 times better than what else is out there. Interestingly, 10x content often gets described as super long-form pieces. But it doesn’t need to be, it can be short and snappy, as long as it offers more (10 times more to be specific) than anything else available.

A recent example is a good’un. Caveat here, I know the Kardashians can do anything and get millions of responses (sorry Snapchat) but this example works in my favour. Nine months of being out of the public eye and the Kylie Jenner pregnancy rumours are rife. Cue her announcement via her Instagram channel and supporting YouTube video. People went mad, literally. But the point here, rather than just her cute video to her daughter, is about how she managed to create and execute the best 10x content strategy of the year. A simple Instagram post, driving her audience somewhere else. Pretty much what we try and do for any e-commerce clients, capturing them and driving them somewhere else. The video is 11:32 minutes long and over 59 million people have watched it. It is a far cry from the 15-second Instagram Stories that we’re all used to.

Another example comes from a winner at last year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. First things first: watch Evan. It’s captivating, but I feel it is not only because of the subject but also how they chose to tell you Evan’s story. We learnt about the kid and were invested in the character, we genuinely wanted this highschool kid to work out who was writing back to him. Once he did, happy days! But that wasn’t the story that non-profit Sandy Hook Promise wanted to tell. The true point of the campaign came through, gun violence can be easily ignored and to learn how to spot the signs. It is a clever long form piece, where you get invested, only to have the illusion shattered and true messages break through right at the end. It suits the cause, it suits the desired output of being shocked but genuinely more aware.

Each example is starkly different, and I did that on purpose. Long form content doesn’t need to be fluffy. With any content, it simply needs to tell a story.

So there we go, a little snippet into why content isn’t all about 3 second view rate. Here are my top tips for thinking about content, of all different lengths:

– Finish telling the story, don’t cut yourself off because you have 30 seconds to fit into.
– Choose the output correctly, too short for Facebook think YouTube or for written content Medium over Twitter.
– Think about emotion, how do you want your viewer to feel. How do you bring this to life?
– Consider the outputs, what do you want this content to do? Kylie wanted to world to know about her baby, Sandyhook wanted people to be aware of early signs of gun violence.
– As marketers we’re responsible for telling brands stories. We shouldn’t be doing this in a mediocre fashion. Don’t follow the norms set by the industry.

So thinking about all of the above, asking how many words am I writing for this blog seems a little silly.

By Magnum & Co Brand Leader, Harrie Jack.