‘Longread’, ‘long story’, ‘deep story’, storytelling’ - there are many names for such format of presenting information online. Regardless of the name there is still an ongoing debate whether it is relevant and appropriate to use texts over 5,000-10,000 symbols as part of a website content. Is it true that users prefer nothing longer than posts at Facebook and would quit a 15 minute reading already after the first paragraph? Or maybe the longread still has its audience?

Weakness turned to advantage

So what is the longread? Let us take a closer look at it.

Logread is one of the ways to present information in a substantial [interesting] extensive text that unfolds the topic, is enriched with details and facts, has over 5,000 symbols and takes from 5-7 minutes to read.

Opponents of the longread usually mention the following arguments as disadvantages:

1. Nobody is going to read a text that long

The NNGroup gathered NNGroup, 200 users to study the way they read online content. According to this research most of the participants have similar pattern of looking through the text regardless of the website. It resembles the letter F. It means that the reader tends to pay more attention to the title [heading] and the first paragraph and then looks through the rest of the text. Based on these results it appears to be useless to publish texts with several thousands of symbols.

Example of the way users typically read texts online

However, there are pros. In 2014 the Newswhip company Newswhip carried out another research to determine the best way of presenting the online news.

Naturally, short posts appeared to be the most popular format. Nevertheless, there was almost the same share of users who prefer extensive articles (from 1,200 words or 7,300 symbols). . Результаты этого исследования были подтверждены еще раз в январе 2017 года.

Another study by Newswhip revealed that the most ‘shared’ social media posts tend to include over 1,000 words and over 6,000 symbols. The study involved the world’s media leaders like BBC, CNN, The New York Times, etc.

2. It takes less time and effort to write 2 short stories then 1 longread.

Indeed, a large number of short articles can help to fill up the content of the website and present the main messages to users. Theoretically it is supposed to attract more traffic to the website. In reality longread unfolds the topic and gets the audience a lot more involved.

For instance, one of the most famous longreeds ‘Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek’ published by The New York Times with 10,500 words gathered 3.5 mln views in a first week. Over 22,000 people were reading it at the peak of its popularity.

Here are another advantages of having longread at your website:

  1. Catchy longread forms certain loyalty towards the brand and makes it more memorable, whereas competent handling of the facts and details reveals high level of expertise. 

One more example of a great longread is ‘Three Techniques of Manual Therapy - from Classics to Innovative Methods’ written BRAB specially for The Institute of Vertabrology and Rehabilitation.

Longread ‘Three Techniques of Manual Therapy - from Classics to Innovative Methods’

2. Search engines favour long well structured texts. As a result you get better traffic and conversion for your website.

Another article worth to mention is ‘Three Ukrainian Companies Which Prosper During Crisis’ written by one of the BRAB’s founders for the Forbes magazine. This longread gained over 53,000 views since it was published compared to an average of 5,000-6,000 views for other similar articles posted by this website.

Number of views for the ‘Three Ukrainian Companies Which Prosper During Crisis’ article

3. Interesting and involving, substantial and well structured text enriched with interactive information catches and holds the reader, meaning that they spend more time at the website.

For example: ‘Everything for Beloved Ones: Cheese Decor for March 8’ written by BRAB for ‘Novhorod-Severski Cheese’ manufacturer took only 2 days to get 383 views with average page preview duration above 3 min.Views for ‘Everything for Beloved Ones: Cheese Decor for March 8’

4 basics to write a prefect longread

It is important to remember that a longread is not just a broad plain text with thousands of symbols. It is a well composed story containing necessary information. In order to create a really effective and ‘deep’ story it is necessary to follow these basic steps.

Step 1: Think first then write

Writing a longread without a clear idea and plan is a waste of time. First you need to outline the main topics (usually a couple of them), determine the structure and draft a summary for every section.

Step 2: Catchy from the first lines

People tend to carefully read only those articles which catch their attention. It can be an open question, short storytelling or even a provocative statement.

This article begins with an intriguing short story to draw readers attention.

Step 3: Say YES to interactive information

Multimedia longreads containing a lot of interactive information (images, video, charts, etc) visually split the text making it more readable and allow to help readers attention. Quality multimedia ‘deep story’ is a result of the work of the entire team: copywriters, designer, photographer and others.

Longread ‘The Dawn Wall’ with presence effect published by The New York Times:

Step 4: Longread is a complete story

Plot, logical connection between parts, complete finale make longread an interesting story to read instead of a plain text. It is important to make it substantial containing interesting and relevant information only. You can see how well this was done in ‘Low Season Bike Tuning’ article written upon the interview of ‘Custom Culture’s’ head mechanic’.