Long or short?

The argument over long vs short copy has raged for as long as there have been copywriters.  What works best?  Well, the answer is definite: it all depends!

This morning I read two very different posts about writing. Long or short?

One was on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/writing-often-thinking-too-much-loic-le-meur?trk=hp-feed-article-title-channel-add) promoting the idea of writing little and often and not going into too much depth: taking a snapshot idea and running with it, and stopping when you run out of things to say.

That’s one approach.

The other post was published as a pdf by Splash Copywriters, “How to get 1000 shares from your next blog post” (www.splashcopywriters.co.uk) and included these two, apparently contradictory, statements:

  1. “Remember that we’re all short of time and, essentially, lazy…”
  2. “… aim for 1500 words (and at least 1000). Research has shown that the longer the content is, the more likely it is to rank higher and get more shares.”

The long/short argument is actually quite simple.  If your idea has neither arms nor legs that need investigating (in other words you’re not “thinking too much”), keep it short.  If it has, investigate all the arms and legs and then stop.  Whatever you do, don’t waffle.

The reason long copy helps your post go viral is that it stands out above posts that cover the subject in less depth.  That means you’re giving your readers more value and they’re more likely to share it.  People won’t necessarily read every word (lazy… time-poor… whatever) but they will see that you’ve put your little all into it and that makes them more likely to reward you by passing it on.

As long as they’re interested in it, of course.

How can you find out what posts people are interested in?  We’re back to our old friends at BuzzSumo (app.buzzsumo.com).  Run a search for your subject, read the articles and, if you’re writing a longer piece, follow the links to see who’s shared it.

[Some people are worried about including links to other people’s work, in case it takes their readers away and they never come back.  I don’t think that’s a real problem.  They may go off and read the other stuff but if you make sure to have the links open in a separate page and you’ve got something interesting to say, they’ll come back to your piece.]

Whatever you write, long or short, you still have to promote it.  No-one will find your piece if you just stick it on your site and wait.  Get out there and shout about it.  If you’ve written a nice meaty piece, get in touch with people who’ve promoted similar copy and tell them about yours, as I’ve said in previous posts; with a bit of luck (and no pushing) they’ll share it for you.

If no-one reads it, you’re just writing for your own amusement.  Which is fine, if that’s what you enjoy, but it won’t help your business.

So – long or short: what works for you?  Have your say below.

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