Forget social media for a moment and think about its older cousin the blog. Or the newsletter, opinion piece or case study. Longer form content to give it its deeply uncool name.
It’s a functional way of describing a whole load of writing that can and will unlock doors for you. Pave the way for conversation and connection – no matter who your audience is. And it can be every bit as engaging and creative as social media too.
Think of it this way. Your friendships and relationships weren’t built on texts and WhatsApp messages alone, were they? You’ve spent time together chatting over coffee, lunch maybe dinner and a drink out or even a weekend away. A whole load of different touchpoints.
Each one is an opportunity to connect in a new and different way. Your business communication is no different. You need to invest time and energy into these relationships and a big part of this is giving people different ways to connect with you.
So, think of your longer form content as the regular coffee or wine catch ups, and occasional nights out. In the context of the Hum, Sing, Shout content framework – this is your ‘Sing’ layer. The verse.
What kind of content are we talking about?
- Opinion pieces
- Thought leadership
- Case Studies
- Email newsletters
1) Start with ‘why’ not the format or frequency
Before you get sidetracked with formats and frequency you need to start with your why. Why are you writing this piece of content? What’s its purpose? Is it to inform, educate, share practical ideas?
What do you want the reader to know, feel or do after reading it? And how does it fit in with messages you’re sharing in other channels?
Be specific, find the ‘so what?’. How does it speak to the reader and answer the question they didn’t know they needed to ask?
2) Who are you writing to?
This is time to leave your ego at the door and write not because you have something to say but because you’ve got something that you think would really help/interest the reader. Put all the focus on them. Time to put yourself in their shoes.
Tip: Reflect on recent conversations, emails and other exchanges. What were the themes that cropped up? Were there common themes coming through different conversations? How can you reflect that in your content?
3) Keep it simple
The language, format – everything. Keep it simple. More words and more content doesn’t automatically mean complicated. Have one core message, just as you would a shorter piece of writing. The additional words mean you can go into more detail, come at it from different angles and bring it to life in a fresh way. It doesn’t mean throwing in the kitchen sink.
So, think back to those conversations again. What words and phrases cropped up? Can you weave them into your content? Think of this as a conversation – how would you approach it if you were with the reader in person.
4) Easy to follow structure
Start with a strong headline, make your case for reading the article in the intro and then get stuck into the detail. But we’re not talking thousands of words here. More words and longer content doesn’t mean complicated.
You can pack a lot into a 600 – 800-word blog. Especially if you can throw in a few images or graphics along the way. Use cross heads to break up dense blocks of text and help guide the reader.
5) Include links
Make it easy for the reader to find other articles, and content or to send you a message. Don’t just leave them to the bottom of the article, sprinkle them from beginning to end.
6) Get creative
The beauty of our creative, digital world is that this longer content doesn’t equal dull. Use video, stills, infographics, audio to bring your story to life.
A final message: Get your why in place
Spend time getting the why right up front. It makes the writing process so much smoother – whether it’s you writing or someone else is doing it for you.
Often when you’re struggling to pull a piece of writing together it’s because you haven’t got to the bottom of the why. Get the ‘why’ right and the format, frequency and words will follow.