As a marketer, I’ve invariably been told/heard/read that long-form content is an essential part of a solid, winning content marketing strategy. Years ago, it was widely accepted that blog posts of circa 300 words were ideal. But skip forward to today, and I’m regularly contributing to articles of over 3,000 or even 4,000 words.
Don’t get me wrong, these lengthy articles work. The analytics prove it. Publish more long posts and they will drive more traffic and in turn, improve a site’s visibility. But, is it really just the word count that’s creating success? Many would argue, not necessarily. They say it’s actually the quality of the content that matters most.
I personally love short-form content, especially when it comes to storytelling. Indeed, the greatest, shortest story ever told was by Ernest Hemingway (or so the tale goes), in a bet to see who could write the best story in just 6 words. He wrote, “For Sale, Baby shoes, Never Worn”.
Short-form content has a place at the content marketing table. It’s easily consumable, and can engage audiences that are entertainment- or education-hungry, but time-poor. It’s easily accessible on mobile. It can serve as a great supplement to your longer-form content. And, being that it’s short and therefore quick/easy to write, you can punch it out in relatively short time. And time is money.
What’s more, short-form content apparently gets more cumulative social shares when the word count equals that of 1 long-form piece of content:
So then, we’ve established that short-form content can (and probably should) exist as part of your content strategy. And every content creator knows the importance of marketing their content to get as many eyeballs as possible.
What if I told you there are some easy ways to automate marketing your short-form content, without you needing to know how to code? Yes—you can get your content out there consistently, without regular manual input from you. And you don’t need to be a tech whizz to do it. I know this because I am a marketer, not a tech whizz.
A heads up before we look at the ways you can automate marketing your short-form content: they all require you to have a Zapier account. It’s free to sign up :)
1. Automate turning your instagram posts into an email newsletter
You might already have a decent sized email audience, but sometimes, keeping them fed with engaging, worthwhile content can be a challenge. And expensive (if you’re outsourcing someone to curate emails for you). And time-consuming.
So, if you’re an avid Instagram user (personal or business), why not serve your email audience some of that great content? You’ve already invested a lot of time carefully curating your Instagram feed. Make it work twice as hard for you by sharing it with your email subscribers, too.
Sure, your email database may be accustomed to longer form emails. But, they’re already invested in you/your brand, and if your Instagram feed is full of interesting stories and captivating images, I’d hazard a guess that they’d actually enjoy getting a dose of your creativity in their email inbox from time to time. Maybe you have a personal Instagram account that you could email to your business customers, to help build your brand’s authenticity and relatability? Or vice versa?
You can use Mailchimp, Airtable and Zapier to get this automation up and running. In Zapier, choose ‘New media posted in my account in Instagram’ as the trigger. Make sure you use Zapier’s ‘Append entry and schedule digest’ action to collect your posts before sending to Airtable. From there, use Zapier to connect your Airtable records to a custom template in Mailchimp. More details on how to do all of this can be found here (just swap out the Twitter steps for Instagram).
2. Automate designing & sending your social post images
We all know how important it is that the images accompanying our social posts are eye-catching. And nobody really wants to look at stock photos.
But what if you don’t want to spend hours designing cute little images in Canva, and you don’t want to pay someone else to do it, either.
Say hello to Bannerbear. If you haven’t come across this nifty little tool before, Bannerbear makes image generation from text a doddle. Just tell it what text you want to transform into an image (using Zapier or Airtable, for example—other integrations are available, too) and ta-da! Image done.
You can use Zapier to also auto-schedule your images with say, Buffer, so your lovely auto-generated images auto-send to your social channels, too.
This is a really neat way to take your short-form content from one place, and transform it for another. Maybe you have video content that you want to turn into various series of quote images. Perhaps you have long-form content, like blog posts, that you want to repurpose into bite size chunks in image form on your Instagram feed. The opportunities are endless!
I know I’m meant to only be discussing short-form content, and blog posts are generally considered long-form. But some people actually prefer to write hyper-short blog posts, and with good reason. Yes, short blog posts go against everything we learn in SEO Strategy 101, but there are people out there who don’t seem to care and write short posts anyway.
Why? Well, as Jonathan Gebauer puts it, “The cornerstone of blogging success is value – not wordcount”. If people spend a decent amount of time on your pages, consume a lot of your content, and your bounce rates are low, it’s likely your pages are going to rank well regardless of how many words you use.
What’s more, super-short blog posts are great because;
They’re easier and more fun for your readers to digest
They take less time to write
They’re easier to write
They’re more fun to write
If you needed more convincing, just look at Seth Godin’s blog. Short, and oh so sweet.
But I digress.
Back to automating your marketing for short-form blog posts (actually, this tip applies to blog posts of all length).
If you regularly write blog content and want to automatically condense it into email teasers, there are a myriad ways you can do it, depending on the tools you use to publish your writing.
If you use Wordpress or Tumblr, for example, you can again use Zapier to connect your blog with an email tool like Mailchimp. You can either send an email every time you post a blog, or use the ‘Append’ action to gather your posts and email them once you have a bunch of say, 3 or 4.
This is a great way to make sure your email audience isn’t missing any of your blog content, and to encourage as much engaged traffic to your blog as possible.
4. Automate pushing your tweets to LinkedIn
Just to be clear, I’m not advocating sharing all of what you put out on Twitter to your LinkedIn. They’re very different platforms, with different audiences, and if you send everything you tweet to LinkedIn you might just annoy the hell out of everyone.
Instead, you could curate a really interesting, insightful, helpful (insert suitable adjective here) ongoing list of tweet content and just send that to your LinkedIn feed.
This is a super-easy setup. In Zapier, make a zap that connects a Twitter search mention with your LinkedIn profile. You’ll want to specify what you want Zapier to search for, e.g. your tweets that mention “My really great stories”, or whatever collective term you include in your tweets so they pull through to LinkedIn. Then you’ll want to add a filter so that Zapier’s only pulling tweets sent from your account. Make sure to include the tweet URL when formatting your LinkedIn post, so people can easily find you on Twitter if they want.
5. Automate emailing a digest of your tweets
This is very similar to 1. above. It’s quite common for people to turn their email newsletters into tweets, but have you considered flipping this on its head? There’s a wealth of share-worthy content on Twitter, and many content creators are missing a trick by not sharing their tweets further.
If you have a database of email subscribers, and an active Twitter account, this is a great way to make sure your subscribers stay on top of what you say on Twitter. Following the steps shown in our video tutorial tool-path, you can automatically collect your tweets and email them in a digest to your email audience. If you email your subscribers with a regular newsletter, you can combine the collection of tweets into your regular newsletter, too.
Our video tool-path shows you the full workflow, step-by-step, including how to;
Set up your email newsletter template in Mailchimp
Create an Airtable base that will collect your tweet data
Connect Airtable and Twitter
Import your Mailchimp newsletter template into Zapier
Make final configurations to your Mailchimp newsletter template so your tweets are pulled through correctly
Set up a send delay in Zapier, so you can determine when your newsletter sends
This path was built by our amazing Creator in Residence, Sara. We're actively expanding our creator program and are looking for more creators to join us. If this sounds like you, read more about the program and apply here.