What did I do Friday afternoon? Well, I’ll tell you I spent it having some seriously nerdy fun, my friend because I went to an amazing social media talk in Tribeca. The Social Media Week panel was called Longform in a Shortform World and was hosted by Buzzfeed’s longform editor Steve Kandell.
The recurring question? “How does the audience interact with longform narratives when time is of the essence?”
Something you guys know we think about all the time here at Chartbeat Studios; in fact, it’s what Engaged Time is trying to solve.
According to the panelists, it’s absolutely about audience engagement, but also design, narrative themes, and of course timing are all core elements of the answer.
Writers don’t just write.
The layout and design of how readers can engage with a piece is in the forefront of your editorial minds. It’s one thing to write and lengthy blog or magazine-style article, but it’s another to write a compelling narrative that’s formatted exactly the way your audience will best interact with it.
Audience engagement: who’s reading, commenting, and generally reacting to your piece is important. We’re learning that the industry hypotheses are right: People engage with different content in different forms in different ways. It’s so much more than just sex, celebrities and crime catching people’s attention — it’s about keeping that attention and that interest through quality content all the way through.
No mas wait-and-see.
One of the best parts of the session, was a discussion around the change in longform narratives since it has entered the digital realm. A major change for the better, actually, as editors can now immediately see how (or even if) readers are fully engaged with the piece. (Real time data nerd bias, I know. But it’s true! We hear it from you guys every day.) Not only is it helpful to get instant feedback on traffic/eyeball numbers, but editors can now see how themes, topics, issues, whatever resonate with a reader by the length of Engaged Time and bringing to light things like unexpected pause-points in the narrative where you may be losing or confusing your readers.
The bottom line, longform is far from dead. Your readers expect it from you – expect a variety of content and moreover the highest quality content and in a form that supports it best, short or long.