Little Victories: Perfecting the Bite-Sized Beauty of Short-Form Content
Great content comes in all shapes and sizes. Some craftsmen create masterpieces in the form of 5,000-word epics - other writers produce their minute magnum opus in as few as 200 characters.
It’s those bite-sized creations we’ve got our eye on today. The appetiser of the content marketing world, short-form content is no less valid a pursuit and no less fine an art than its long-form counterpart.
We’re taking you through a tasting menu of short-form formats to help you serve up delicious digital content to readers looking to whet their appetite.
Paid ad text
Paid ads (such as those facilitated by our benevolent overlord, Google) provide an efficient, effective, profitable means of getting eyes on your product range and online carts filled to the brim. The right campaign structure, bidding strategy and use of the countless extensions on offer is vital. There’s no getting away from that. But without tantalising ad text that wrings every drop of value out of the available characters, the engagement factor simply isn’t there.
With headlines, descriptions, calls-to-action and sitelinks to rustle up for your Google ads, you’re creating a smorgasbord of scrumptious short-form content - with each element bringing unique flavour and purpose to your campaign.
Your headline should, needless to say, fall within the given character limit (no more than 30 characters) while also providing a succinct, engaging (and ideally keyword-optimised) description of what users will find at the destination link. This is also a prime position for a punchy call-to-action - complete with any tempting lures, such as a limited-time discount or first-time customer offer.
Descriptions present a chance to expand on the promise made by your headline - with a comparatively roomy 90 characters to play with here. You may choose to delve into the contents of your product range, sweeten the deal with information on any special offers or simply seize the opportunity to artfully incorporate more of your targeted keywords (on either an exact-match or partial-match basis).
By squeezing every ounce of value out of the limited number of characters available to you, you can serve up some moreish short-form content with ad text that leaves the user with no option but to click. Social media content
Across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and numerous other leading social media platforms, magnetic short-form content is the key to likes, shares and - the ultimate goal - socially driven web traffic.
Of course, images and videos reign supreme on social media due to their largely visual nature - particularly with regards to more image-centric platforms like Instagram. But the written word nonetheless has its place in this fast-paced world of content consumption. First off, image or video-based social media posts can’t achieve their impact potential without a caption to do them justice. While the number of characters available to you varies from platform to platform (over 60,000 on Facebook vs just 2,200 on Instagram and a mere 280 on Twitter), image and video posts with supporting captions tend to be concise, punchy and straight-to-the-point. Your job here is to summarise the relevant visual content (and the destination link if applicable). This means your caption should be relatable and engaging - illustrating how your content will solve a problem you know your customers have, or appealing to their known interests. There’s no need for keyword optimisation here, although a carefully chosen (highly relevant) hashtag wouldn’t go amiss depending on the platform you’re using. Instead, the key is to be explicit, succinct and conversational in tone - grabbing the attention of scrolling users in the hopes of stopping them in their tracks. With text-only social media posts, all the same rules apply - but the engaging, impactful and relatable nature of your short-form copy becomes even more vital here, without the visuals to prop up your written content.
This is one of our favourite jobs going, they said self-loathingly. Writing metadata for a product category page or blog post is, perhaps tragically, one of the most satisfying experiences in a content creator’s working life.
Each and every page and post on your website that’s indexable by search engines should have its own unique meta title and meta description - and the process of refining these to maximise optimisation and engagement factor is, quite literally, never finished.
Meta title tags are firmly established as a major ranking factor in Google’s almighty algorithm. This means relevant keyword optimisation is not only permissible here, but actively encouraged. Get your keyword as close to the beginning of your meta title as possible without negatively affecting the syntax of your meta title. It still categorically needs to make sense.
From there, if you’ve got any of the available 55-60 characters to spare, carefully cram in as much added value as possible for the user (never, ever, ever neglect the user in a bid to impress the search engine). This might involve succinctly summarising the product range or blog post in question, or alternatively squeezing in a compact yet forceful call-to-action. Just remember that waste is the scourge of the short-form content writer - if possible, leave no available character unused.
Next on the menu is your all-important meta description. While not a ranking factor in itself, its supporting role in relation to your meta title makes this another key asset when it comes to driving relevant organic traffic to your website.
Meta descriptions should generally be 155-160 characters in length (or up to 920 pixels on desktop vs 680 on mobile). Within this challenging character limit lies an opportunity for you to expand on the purpose and value of your page or post, giving users a clear incentive to click through.
Feel free to incorporate keywords here even though they won’t impact your ranking position - any terms from the user’s query contained in your meta description will be shown in bold. This small detail could just catch the user’s eye and drive that coveted click.
So, turns out writing about short-form content is hardly an exercise in short-form content. Now that you’re clued up, though, how about we rustle up your brand’s next bite-sized masterpiece?
With years of experience making compact content work for our clients and an unbridled passion for piecing together short-form copy that converts, we’ve got a tried and tested recipe for success. Get a quote for your writing project, courtesy of Paragraft, right here.