Reconciling Two Vastly Different Content Trends: Mobile and Long Form

oppositeIf you’ve been paying attention this year, you’ve noticed two distinct trends in content: content made for mobile devices, and long-form, deep-diving content made for quality. If your content is image- or video-heavy, you have a bit of a leg up, though you still need text to bolster it.

For most people, content is first based on the written word, however (blogs, white papers, ebooks). If you are a busy small business owner or a freelancer, how do you find ways to optimize your writing for both types of content?

It’s difficult to think of both at the same time, but my recommendation is to first write for depth and quality in order to optimize for recent changes such as Google’s Hummingbird, and then go back and structure your content for mobile. Start with an outline, shaping your thoughts into a coherent structure. This allows you to look at your content with a bird’s eye view of its clarity. You can spot weaknesses in your content and strengthen your points while your content is still a skeleton.

Follow your outline by sourcing copyright-free images or creating your own. Each main point should have a clear image outlining it, and your post, paper or ebook should also have a main, featured image that will optimize sharing. Why source the images second? Because they will serve the dual purpose of breaking up a lengthy thought leadership piece on a desktop or laptop, making it easier to read, and also provide a visual story on a mobile device. Telling your story visually is essential for success, both online and in a reader’s pocket.

Once you have your outline and visuals ready, it’s time to start pacing your story. To write for a combination of mobile and browser, you need a strong first paragraph. Assume that on a mobile device, your first paragraph may be all that people read, while on a desktop, your first paragraph should entice people to read further (and, hopefully, engage). This means you have to walk a fine line between summarizing your story and valid points (mobile) while not giving away the meat of your argument (desktop or laptop). Think of the first paragraph as your elevator pitch.

Once your first paragraph is ready, you will need to structure the rest of your article or book with headlines and/or chapter breaks, as well as images. On a browser this will help draw the eye through the piece. On a mobile device, a good headline acts as a placeholder during a scroll – if you scroll too far, you can easily find a place of return to continue reading.

I find it’s nice to pepper your writing with “shareable moments” as well. If you think a point is particularly valid or pithy, call it out with a “Tweet this” button, for example, to keep people engaged throughout. You’ll find that people enjoy having sharing made simple, and will use this as way to easily engage with your content, at a low cost of entry (little effort expended). Apply the same logic to your visuals by offering a “pin this” option as well.

The key to getting engagement on both platforms of consumption is to close a solid article with an emotion-inducing, compelling last paragraph that wraps your argument nicely, yet still leaves a reader compelled to comment. You’ll see this style of writing on political sites often, but you don’t have to be controversial to be engaging. Try using the Facebook trick of ending with a question, or asking the reader to contribute a thought for a future infographic or thought piece that will be a follow-up to the one they just read (and then follow through later – no one likes a broken promise).

Try this method on a few posts, measuring the impact via your analytics. Set up a campaign to track this method versus your usual method (whatever that may be), and let me know if this works for you as well as it has worked for me. I want to hear about your successes with structured posts aligned with mobile and browser-based content models.

About the Author

Author Leslie Poston wrote Social Media Metrics for Dummies, co-authored Twitter for Dummies, and has been writing for hire and leading content marketing initiatives as a consultant since the ’90s. She is Senior Social Media Editor for McKinsey & Company and also runs a content marketing consultancy. She’s an avid Twitter user, so be sure to say hello on Twitter: @leslie

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Photo thanks to Capture Queen (Whatever you think … think the opposite)

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