PR pros know that one of the best things they can do for clients is develop a solid content strategy. Developing a steady stream of good content can raise awareness, increase engagement, and be an important part of a sharing strategy on owned or social channels. It can demonstrate thought leadership and by providing information rather than an advertising pitch, it will have additional resonance with readers.
Public relations professionals also know that many people are consuming content on mobile devices, which can present a dilemma when trying to determine how long a piece of content should be.
Story length is also a question for journalists whose writing is now being subjected to increasingly detailed analysis: do people read long news articles? What kinds of pieces need to be kept short—and how should news stories be shared by the news organization’s platforms? The news media struggles with this, and they know that much of their content is now being viewed on mobile devices.
Long-form content works on mobile
Will people read long-form content at all—and if they do, are they willing to read long pieces on smartphones and tablets?
The answer appears to be yes to both: consumers will read longer pieces—and they’ll even read them on mobile devices. The Pew Research Center has studied this, and in a post in early May they reviewed the findings, some of which were a bit surprising—at least when we think about all of the advice we’re getting about keeping pieces short. The article explaining the study’s findings states:
“But, article for article, long-form stories attract visitors at nearly the same rate as short-form: 1,530 complete interactions per long-form article and 1,576 per short-form.”
Not only are people choosing to read long-form content, the amount of “engaged time”—which Pew defines as a reader actually doing something such as tapping, clicking, or scrolling on a web page—is higher with long-form content than it is with shorter pieces.
Where do mobile readers come from?
What is really interesting beyond the fact that people are apparently not so distracted that they can and do choose to read longer articles is that what really seems to matter is how readers landed on the content.
The findings show that Facebook is much more likely to drive traffic, whether to short-form or long-form content—but, in a twist—the readers who arrive via links shared on Twitter spend more time with the content, whether it’s long or short.Readers will dedicate themselves to reading a long-form piece on mobile devicesClick To Tweet
Although this study was focused on the news media, I think there are a number of takeaways for PR pros as well. The Pew study shows that readers will dedicate themselves to reading a long-form piece on mobile devices, which is good news for both the media and public relations professionals. Long-form content allows for in-depth topic exploration and is a sign that traditional reporting isn’t dead. How journalists and PR pros share content has an impact too—which means that the platforms selected for sharing content matters if you want your content to be read and shared.