Short Form Content: The Latest Social Media Trend

Would you like to speed up your content creation process, while concurrently making it more relevant to your audience?

While Google still loves long-form magazine style content, it is certainly better to create short form content than nothing at all.

However, instead of considering short-form content a compromise, recognize it for what it is. This is a win-win for your business and its on-the-go audience that often only has time for a snack.

It’s no coincidence that the fastest growing social media channels are those that deliver the bite-sized content that active people crave. For businesses, we’re talking about Instagram, Pinterest, and Vine.

Benefits of Short Form Content

In addition to participating in these highly active communities that were specifically designed for short form content, they integrate seamlessly with Facebook and Twitter, thereby multiplying your efforts.

So, instead of publishing directly to Facebook, consider publishing to Instagram and then link that message to both Facebook and Twitter. That gives you an easy three for one.

Additional Benefits of Short Form Content

  1. Takes less time
  2. Builds the content creation habit
  3. Readily shareable
  4. Consistency increases engagement
  5. A link is a link

Let me elaborate on that last point.

When building your online presence, every link counts. In other words, both a short and long piece of content offer you one link that leads back to your primary website. Obviously, when you consider your investment in time, it’s easier and more economical to earn inbound links with short form content.

In fact, it is arguable that a heavily shared video on Pinterest, Instagram, or Vine will drive more traffic than a long form article. It all depends upon the nature of your business, social marketing strategy, and the behaviors of your communities.

If you want to learn more about Pinterest, Instagram, and Vine, go to Social Media Examiner and search for the respective channels. You will discover informative articles and podcasts.

Personally, I learn more from the in-depth podcasts. Of course, you can also Google these channels or their experts. I’ve found Cynthia Sanchez to be the top expert on Pinterest and Sue B. Zimmerman for Instagram.

Design Your Short Form Strategy

For short form content to work for you, it has to be planned.

Here are some ideas that I pulled right out of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business. (This is page 60 if you already have a copy).

  1. The how-to
  2. Expert viewpoints or perspectives
  3. Interviews
  4. Product or service reviews
  5. Trends and best practices
  6. Helpful tools, tips, and techniques
  7. Business promotions

Obviously, you would not want to exclusively focus your content on business promotions. However, as one example, you could certainly combine #1 and #6 to show your community how to get the most from your products and services, which effectively is a subtle form of promotion.

Taking this a step further, let’s assume you want to encourage more sign-ups for an event you are hosting. Build a list of a dozen or so tips that are representative of the benefits one will learn at that event. Then roll them out as a series of teasers that gives your audience a sample of what they can expect by attending.

Just be sure to focus on being helpful, rather than promotional.

One Business Channel

Remember that while there are many social networks, they have to collectively work together as one business channel.

Therefore, you should ideally develop a balanced mix of both long and short-form content to give your audience, as well as Google and the other search engines, exactly what they want.

To put this into perspective, you may find The Best Blog Post Length Test interesting. It helps to put short and long into perspective, so that you can use them to more effectively tell your stories.

How is your business using the new short form social media channels? Please share your thoughts in a comment.

About the Author:  Jeff Korhan, MBA, is the author of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business – (Wiley 2013)  

He helps mainstream businesses adapt their traditional growth practices to a digital world. Connect with Jeff on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and Google+.

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Social Media Pay to Play: When it Makes Sense

One of the important social media trends for 2014 is making financial investments in the major social media networks in order to accomplish specific objectives, otherwise known as pay to play.

The key is to distinguish between an investment and expenditures that deliver little future value.

LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are now public companies. They are expected to grow the investment that shareholders have made in their shares, with that money naturally coming from users of the site that heretofore have enjoyed a free ride.

It has been apparent for some time now that your reach on Facebook is limited without advertising. It is evident that while Facebook advertising may indeed reach new fans, that does not necessarily convert into practical outcomes.

If you have not yet experimented with advertising on these social media channels, now is the time to do so before the pricing gets out of reach for most small businesses. However, be aware of end game – what you ultimately want to accomplish with that investment, otherwise it doesn’t make sense to play.

#1 – Quickly Building New Communities

If you are just getting started with new social media channels, it may make sense to make an investment up front to achieve critical mass more quickly.

For example, if the business is moving into a new market, it will be helpful to attract fans that are currently aligned with established competitors. Here is an excellent article that suggests ways for advertising on the major social media networks to build traffic to your account.

In reality, you are paying to rent the attention of a specific community. Your advertising dollars are buying a look from people that are known to have an affinity for businesses or brands like yours. If your content is solid you will most likely retain a generous number of them.

Of course, other ways to accomplish this for free are to partner with others in your space who will freely help you in exchange for a non-monetary value exchange.

#2 – Growing Your Content Marketing Assets

Let’s be clear that we are all renting space on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. For most that is free rent.

So, when does it make sense to pay to rent when everyone most others are not? When there is a direct conversion from that Facebook account into new business, or when it drives traffic to another site that converts it, such as your primary website.

Too many businesses are chasing Facebook likes that merely serve as social proof. There is nothing at all wrong with this. Facebook is great for nurturing relationships. However, one should question whether it’s necessary to invest in that or allow to happen organically.

If any of the social networks can help to build properties you own that can convert that traffic into profitable outcomes, such as your blog or email newsletter, then the investment makes sense.

In other words, pay to play when it builds traffic that can be converted.

#3 – Promoting Offers Designed to Convert

If your business has a specific offer with a limited window of opportunity, then investing to ensure it reaches as many targeted potential buyers as possible makes sense.

This may be the most logical reason for investing in social media advertising because social marketing is generally used to educate, not promote. It’s a process that is designed to convert attention into revenue when the time is right. This will include engaging not only the attention of that audience, but everyone that their social graphs.

Just as there is a difference between gambling and playing cards to win in the Las Vegas casinos, so it is with advertising. Gamblers like to say they enjoying playing cards, even when they are losing money, and you will always see them looking at a list of all the free bet deals for the grand national so they could get in.

Personally, I enjoy winning.

As pay to play becomes more common, it will be necessary to establish a budget with specific objectives, presumably to earn a profit from that investment. Intermediate objectives can be building your tribe, but ultimately offers have to be made that will generate a profit.

It doesn’t make much sense to invest in getting your content shared unless you have designed specific methods for earning back the investment, plus a reasonable (or better) profit. 

Make sense?

About the Author:  Jeff Korhan, MBA, is the author of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business – (Wiley 2013)  

He helps mainstream businesses adapt their traditional growth practices to a digital world. Connect with Jeff on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and Google+.

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