What do you need to consider when choosing your content media?

When you’re deciding what your content will be, you’ll need to remember that some platforms place formatting restrictions on the content you want to create. This applies to text as well as images, as you can see in the examples below.

image of social media platform icons

Twitter

On Twitter, a single tweet is limited to just 280 characters of text, which is only enough for a sentence or two. However, you could also add four images or a video of 2 minutes 20 seconds in length.

You can’t format text for impact, so the words and pictures need to do all the work. Links and line breaks can be inserted into the text, but count against the character total.

Instagram

On Instagram, images can be cropped square, or be displayed portrait or landscape. Likewise, videos can be cropped to size and those which appear in the main grid content stream can be up to a minute in length. You can also combine multiple images and videos into a single post of up to ten items linked together.

All posts have a caption space, which can be up to 2,200 characters long, but only the first 125 or so (about 10 words) will show in the Instagram feed. If it’s any longer people will need to click through to see the rest — and they may not.

In Instagram stories, videos are in portrait mode, and are only 15 seconds long, but they can be chained together with other videos to make a longer series of up to a minute. Live video can be up to 60 minutes, and unless you save these stories to your highlights, they’ll only be visible for 24 hours.

Those are just a few examples of platforms setting limits on content formats. However, some platforms are much less constraining. This can be a good thing, but also a challenge.

Blogs

Many content and service sites have a text-based blog, with newest items being posted at the top of the section, and older items further down as you scroll. A blog can be a useful way of making an announcement, discussing a topic, exploring an idea or starting a discussion on your own site.

The advantage of being on your own site is that there’s no limit to the format, tone or length of the content you want to use. You can decide what’s going to work best for your particular audience, based on your research and experience.

Video and audio

When it comes to video, or audio, length is also a factor. As video can, theoretically, be as long as you want it to be, you need to be guided instead by how long people spend watching or listening to it, as well as how you can deliver your message in a clear and engaging way.

For video, you should use captions or subtitles wherever possible. A staggering 85% of videos viewed on Facebook are viewed on mobile devices with the sound off. Audiences may well be browsing your content when commuting or on the move, and you should bear this in mind when deciding how you format your content.

When thinking about how much content to create, you should consider these factors too:

  • Content source:
    Is it something you can produce yourself, or will you need to commission it from someone else? If the latter, what are the timelines and costs associated with that?
  • Time and effort:
    How long will it take you to create (or commission) all the content you need? Does the business objective in your overall strategy justify that kind of time and money?
  • Repurposing:
    Can the content you create be used more than once, within the same project or at a later date? That can help to justify production time and cost
  • Shelf life:
    Will the content you create or commission be quickly obsolete because of technology or personnel changes, or other external factors? If so, can you design your content strategy so that it’s easy to change things without having to redo the whole thing every time?

There are lots of potential decisions to make about content format, and no single rule which works for every project. So how do you go about choosing not just the tone and platform of the content, but also how long to make it or which format to use?

In the next step, you’ll hear from a content professional about how they determine the right length for content, as well as how they use different platforms effectively.

Have your say:

What else do you think should be considered when publishing content online?
If you have any other ideas for what to consider, or tips and tricks for your content, why not share them with your peers?
Share your insights and experiences with other learners in the Comments section.

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This article is from the free online course:

How to Create Great Online Content

University of Leeds