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  • Writer's pictureCath @MyMarketingToolbox

Slow content - The communication (r)evolution (?)

In our fast-paced society, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and under pressure to achieve as much as possible in as little time as possible. The development of social media and the injunction for brands and marketers to publish more and more to feed the ever demanding algorithms is a good example. The fear of not posting, of not creating content leads to the fear of being missed by our target audience. On the other hand, as individuals, we spend so many time on just scrolling, not really taking care of the information we feed our brain with. Quantity is preferred over quality, leading to an overdose of content. A certain fatigue appears and is translated by a drop in engagement. Current marketing tactics have to be challenged. “Snack content”, small bites of content published frequently, is not the answer anymore. 

As a marketing specialist myself, I wonder what could be done to change the way we communicate and sell, to be more sustainable, mindful, respectful in our practices. What if we take the opposite approach, focusing on quality this time, slowing down, taking the time?

In this article, we will explore the concept of slow content as a communication revolution by trying to answer the following questions:

  • What is slow content?

  • How does slow content work?

  • What are the results of a slow content strategy?

  • Can podcasts be considered as slow content tools?

What is slow content? A definition

Slow content describes a type of content focusing on quality over quantity by insisting on deeper, more meaningful experiences for the audience of a brand. Slow content encourages reflection, engagement and a slower pace of consumption.

It comes as a reaction to “snack content”, a fast-paced, quickly consumable type of content, relying on the quantity of content published. 

At the heart of slow content we find the notion of quality and time. The main goals of a slow content copy are:

  • to foster meaningful experiences

  • to encourage contemplation

  • to provide lasting value for the audience

  • to provide usefulness to the target audience, to the community of a brand, to the brand itself and to the society at large.

Slow content is not about publishing for the sake of publishing to satisfy an algorithm. 

The origins and evolution of the concept of slow content

The concept of slow content is part of a wider movement, the slow movement which appeared in Italy in 1986 as a reaction against the opening of MacDonald’s, the fast food company,  in Rome. The first industry to cater to this movement is the food industry. It then became a cultural movement advocating a slower lifestyle, taking the time to live, enjoy, experiment, without rushing. It’s about focusing on organic development, mimicking nature and its seasons.

Slowing down, eliminating the daily stress of our fast-paced modern society, is at the heart of this movement. Starting with the food industry, this philosophy spread to other sectors with slow cities, slow travels, slow money, slow fashion and slow marketing. It’s all about improving the quality of life and reducing the negative impacts of human activities on the environment.

The development of the slow movement since the 1980s is a testimony of a change in the society mentality and priorities.

When it comes to slow content, one person played a significant role in the popularisation of the concept: Ann Handley. Ann Handley is an American marketing specialist and the author of different books dealing with marketing strategies and storytelling. One of her books had a particular resonance: Everybody writes: Your go-to guide to creating ridiculously good content, which was first published in 2014. She provides insights and approaches on how to write and tell stories which convert audiences. And she mentioned the concept of slow content.

And if we have a look at the content’s performance, an article from SemRush on April 10 2024, published the following statistics:

  • The average blog post length in 2023 was 1416 words (more than 70% more words compared to 2013). The highest performing posts contain at least 3000 words. The most successful posts are educational, providing comprehensive, practical and high value information.

And, in its State of Marketing Report, Hubspot lists the following formats providing the highest return on investment:

  • Short-form video (31%), the optimal length being under 10 minutes

  • Images (22%)

  • Blog posts (15%)

  • Case studies (15%)

  • Podcasts or other audio content (14%)

How does slow content work?

At the heart of slow content lies the notion of quality. The website, whose mission is to make the Internet a better place, lists 10 pillars:

  • Quality over quantity

  • Depth over breadth

  • Creativity over fashion

  • The right word over the simplest word

  • Enrichment over transactions

  • Purpose over profit

  • Concise over short

  • The citizen over the consumer

  • Contemplation over acceleration

  • Tradition over convention

These 10 pillars can be implemented by following these key characteristics during the creation of a piece of content:

  • Depth: a slow content copy delves deeply into topics to provide thorough analysis, insights and context;

  • Thoughtfulness: slow content encourages critical thinking and reflection. it invites the audience to ponder and engage with the material on a deeper level. Slow content challenges perception and forces the audience to form its own perspectives on the covered topic;

  • Authenticity: slow content prioritises authenticity and sincerity in order to establish genuine connections with the audience. it’s not about simply grabbing the attention and working on the sensational or buzz effect;

  • Longevity: slow content doesn’t focus on trendy or ephemeral topics. It aims at creating a lasting value remaining relevant over time.

Concretely, slow content can take different forms:

  • In-depth articles or posts

  • Long-form essays

  • E-books, reports

  • Magazines, webzines

  • Long-form videos

  • Infographics

  • Documentary films

  • Podcasts

As a rule, always have in mind your audience when you generate a piece of content. The chosen format and the chosen topic have to answer a need and have to be useful.

The choice of the topics covered will be dictated by your target audience, the industry you evolve in, the type of business you run. There is no one size fits all strategy here. However, it seems that the following topics find a certain resonance to drive community engagement:

  • Storytelling

  • Behind the scenes

  • Sustainability

  • Craftsmanship

  • Educating

Slow content in action

  • Research relevant keywords

  • Check your sources

  • Identify and target each of your persona

  • Build your authoritativeness over time

  • Structure your content with different parts, following a plan

  • Use quotes 

  • Use images

  • Air your content

  • It will help you to anticipate and prepare your topics.

  • it will ensure consistency and relevancy

  • Update past articles with more up-to-date information or more relevant keywords

  • Delete topics/articles which don’t bring value to your community if you can’t update them

  • Tell stories people can easily identify to

  • Add emotions, all the more if you use AI to create your content.

  • Don’t forget you write for people and not for an algorithm

  • Spread your messages and share your personal takeaways or insights

  • Use your different social media profiles to communicate

  • Use your mailing list

  • Use your website

  • Implement Public Relations

What are the expected results of a slow content strategy?

Implementing a slow content strategy will have long-term effects on:

  • Your organic ranking through Search Engine Optimization by posting quality, though through, educational and relevant content

  • The perception of your brand and your positioning as an expert in your field through the increase of trust your audience will have in your contents

  • The improvement of your client experience as you focus only on contents answering their needs and issues

  • Your digital impact on the environment by posting less but better following an established content schedule

Case study - Podcasts: to what extent can podcasts be used as a slow content tool?

The podcast industry is planning to grow even more in 2024 with the quantity of podcasts listeners worldwide expected to reach 504,9 millions and a market size estimated at 30,03 billion US dollars according to Backlinko. Let’s investigate together to what extent podcasts could be a good alternative slow content tool worth integrating in your content marketing strategy.

For that, we will analyse it using the four key characteristics of slow content identified earlier: Depth, Thoughtfulness, Authenticity and Longevity.

  • Podcasts allow long-form discussions and in-depth exploration of topics. They offer the opportunity for hosts and guests to dive in subjects, providing comprehensive analysis, insights and perspectives.

  • The majority of podcasts are created to provoke thoughts and to engage listeners on a deeper level. Interviews, storytelling or expert analysis, they all encourage critical thinking and reflection. Moreover, by appealing to the hearing sense and using the intimacy of voices, podcasts help to foster meaningful connections between the host and the audience.

  • Because of their conversational nature, podcasts are tools particularly suited for authentic communication. By listening to the voices of the host(s) and the guest(s) sharing their personal stories, experiences and viewpoints in a genuine manner, listeners develop a sense of connection with them.

  • Podcasts tend to have a longer lifespan compared to ephemeral content fading quickly. Listeners can discover and listen again episodes weeks, months or even years after their initial releases. Podcasts provide lasting value and relevance.

As you can see, a podcast answers the four main characteristics of slow content. Preparing a podcast episode requires time and commitment to make sure the content will be relevant and to the missions and values of the host and to the target audience. Moreover, its versatility enables podcasts to deal with almost any kind of subjects, from educational and informative to entertaining and narrative-driven.

Whether it’s a deep dive into a niche subject, an exploration of current events, or a storytelling unfolding over multiple episodes, podcasts have the flexibility to cater to a wide range of interests and preferences.

Podcasts offer a platform to share thoughtful, meaningful content, encouraging engagement, reflection and connection with the audience.

To conclude with: what is slow content and what is NOT slow content…

Slow content is:

  • Publishing useful content for your audience

  • Implementing and following a content schedule to ensure relevancy

  • Writing content to be read/consumed by humans and not by machines

  • About quality and taking time

Slow content is NOT:

  • Publishing content for the sake of publishing

  • Spamming your audience with too much, irrelevant information

  • Pleasing the algorithms to be ranked higher or better seen

  • About quantity and rushing

As you could see, slow content is a marketing philosophy aiming at changing the current practices to make them more sustainable, more humane. Let’s forget about the algorithms for a moment, let’s focus on what’s important: genuine social connections. And let’s measure the long term impacts our marketing practices will have on the environment at large!

Did you find this article useful? Feel free to share your opinions with me!

I hope this article will inspire you to review your marketing principles and to question the way you currently communicate with your community: is it aligned with your values and missions or are you just feeding the algorithms?

If this post inspired you to launch your own podcast as a slow content marketing tool, check out my article “What you need to create your podcast free of charge (or almost)” and download your “Podcast Starting Kit Cheat Sheet”.

And I am always here to advise you on your podcasting journey. Check out my offers and pick the one fitting the best to your current needs and challenges. Apply to work with me now.

Happy reading!

Cath @MyMarketingToolbox

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