In a saturated media market, media outlets need to compete for ever scattered audience attention. In their daily operations, editors and journalists are often focused on creating new stories, basing their strategies on volume. However, creating more content is not the answer to plummeting engagement rates.
In a struggle to reach a greater audience, media outlets often tend to overlook the power of evergreen content. Evergreen content is the type of content that is always fresh and relevant regardless of its publishing date. This content is usually not connected to recent events or breaking news, it deals with timeless topics and simply put - it doesn’t have an expiration date.
We at smartocto identify this type of content as Longtail, which represents articles that are still generating traffic three days after publication. There are two types of Longtail content:
- Reborn articles are older articles that have suddenly started receiving external traffic again. It can be an article that is associated with seasons or some theme that is interesting again, for example, meal recipes in time of holidays or tips you need to know when changing to winter tires.
- Everlasting articles are longtail articles that became more popular than anything published in the past 30 days - an evergreen content that is ‘constantly’ being consumed. According to our findings, Everlasting content generates higher engagement rates than any other type of content. It encourages audiences to connect (and reconnect) with brands, browse through more pages, read more articles, and spend additional time on the publisher’s site.
Content that engages readers for more than two days can be a real game-changer in the newsroom, especially in terms of establishing an engaged and loyal audience. These stories may require more work so the question is - will they really make a difference in the long run?
Well, the effort doesn't lie so much in the creation of the content, but rather in understanding of the readership. Get it right, and you're likely to strike gold. Identifying what resonated with the audience, and what triggers loyal behavior for them, is the key. So, I guess one can say that it does make a difference, especially when you’re thinking about longtail content in terms of loyalty-creating behavior (and we know that loyal readers consume five times more content than ‘occasional readers’).
What we can learn from data
To discover where the secret of this longtail content lies, we analyzed content from 20 media outlets within the Media for All project, covering stories from 6 Western Balkan countries.
We looked over the performance of content published in the previous 6 months, and in that period, we noticed that outlets from some countries such as Bosnia and Herzegovina stand out when it comes to longtail content reads (number of articles reads coming from longtail content) in comparison to total reads.
Namely, 43% of all article reads, when looking at three Bosnian outlets (capital.ba, etrafika.ba and tacno.net), are coming from longtail content. These outlets created content that not only lives longer but also engages the audience for a longer period of time.
Outlets from Serbia (novaekonomija.rs, infovranjske.rs and maglocistac.rs) are generating 29% of their traffic through longtail articles.
In a deeper analysis we discovered that for some countries specific sections generate 100% of longtail article reads. Meaning that all content created within those sections is longtail content. That’s why they present the key learning points in understanding where the potential for creation of evergreen content is.
On a more general note, columns, opinion pieces, feuilletons, lifestyle, technology and environmental stories are the ones that generate traffic long after their publishing date.
In this era of content shock, longtail content is a good way to connect to your audience and build loyalty. These are the topics that are not time-sensitive but especially catered to the audience and their interests, so they continue to engage readers for days after publication. They do require a bit more effort to create, but that will be rewarded with reader loyalty and continued traffic. So, again - we'd say it's worth the effort!
Be sure to use your data and take behavioral metrics into consideration when planning your longtail pieces; pay attention to the human reaction to your content. Then build on that:
- What subjects are popular with your readers? Try to approach these subjects in a new, innovative way to peak their interests.
- Once you know what your audience is looking for, creating content that appeals to them keeps them coming back for more. Long-tail creates loyalty.
Longtail is clearly a topic of interest to many newsrooms as it helps them build loyal audiences and achieve greater impact without investing additional resources in content production.
To get additional insights on analysis of longtail article performance, and hands-on knowledge from one of the most successful newsrooms and data experts, join us on the Journalift webinar The Power of Longtail Content.