When it comes to content marketing, it can often feel like more is better. More content means more sharing, and more sharing means more exposure and engagement, right?
Turns out, not so much. In fact, even among notoriously short tweets, those that are under 100 characters tend to see more reader engagement than longer posts.
The question of whether the long form article is a dying art or not is best left to another post. What’s not debatable is the fact that a clear and concise piece of creative brief content often does far better than one that’s lengthy and weighed down with unneeded drivel.
Are you prone to producing long treatises on your blog? Are your Facebook posts more verbose than vivacious?
If so, check out these three ways to keep your written content naturally brief, without losing key information.
Producing Creative Brief Content
Cut to the Chase
A few different studies have found out that Web readers just don’t have the attention spans they used to. While we could spend a good amount of time lamenting the effects of social media and video games on society, I think that time is better spent getting to the point. (Who knows, maybe my brain has been similarly addled by today’s world of instant gratification).
Make sure that every post focuses on one thing. You don’t need sweeping introductions, miles of back story and giant tangents.
Have another great idea? Make it another post. Want to include a bunch of history? Make it another post. Get my point?
Have Faith in Your Readers
See that right there? I cut a whole sentence or two out by letting you infer my point about splitting multiple ideas into new posts by letting you draw your own conclusion about it.
You don’t have to lay out every single thing for your readers to get it. If you do a good job with the lead up, your readers will carry the idea through to the finish line.
Be Immediately Interesting
You have a very small window of opportunity in which to grab your potential readers’ attention. That means that your introduction needs to offer up just enough information to hook them so they’ll keep reading.
So that part about cutting to the chase? It’s slightly less true when you’re writing first lines.
The one thing you don’t want to do is give your reader enough information to get a full picture of your post before they click your “read more” link. If you’re wondering how this helps to shorten things up, here it is: With your super interesting hook, you get to skip the lengthy lead-in.
I don’t mind so much the length of an article so long as it keeps my attention. Short, medium, long, don’t matter; if I don’t find it interesting, then it’s lost me from the get-go.
Great point 🙂
This is yet another case where you have to look at your own stuff and not everybody else. You might have traffic that enjoys soaking up a 1500+ word post. You’ll never know that if you just follow the crowd.
Invest 3 hours a week in your Google Analytics and you will find all the answers you need and then some 🙂
When I had a blog, I used to write what I felt to write and at any length. Well I didn’t really think about the length, to be honest, as long as I felt I was done with what I wanted to say – just went with my own flow and if it connected with some people, great. If not, cool too. Important for me to do me.
I think in politics, this is called condensing your message to fit on a bumper sticker.
A bumper sticker slogan! That is great comparison!
I agree with you. Quantity does not equal quality. I also find that adding pictures that may be relevant to what you are talking about can make your post more appealing to look at. Sometimes it helps if you have 4 -5 posts prepared in advance and then you can proof read and edit them to make them more clear and concise
Brevity is indeed the soul of wit. Most of us are too busy to read lengthy notes anyway, unless it is captivating. We are preoccupied with our work, job and life.
“…a clear and concise piece of creative brief content often does far better than one that’s lengthy and weighed down with unneeded drivel.”
I very much agree. But unfortunately, things are not as simple as it was.
As a website owner, blogger and web publisher, I personally like short, catchy straight-to-the-point post. I personally agree that quite often, a picture speaks a thousand words.
Videos are also said to increase social shares 7-fold.
Unfortunately, search engines can’t “read” images and videos. And with Google, short posts with nice images and videos are considered as “thin” content and can damage your search engine ranking.
One of my blogs was losing 80% of traffic – penalized by Google – simply because I publish 200-ish-word posts – very interesting ones, I must say, considering the number of social shares I get (I get dozens of social shares quickly after I publish the posts – the blog was getting 800 visitors/day – virtually with very little off-site SEO efforts.)
So today I end up publishing 700-1000-ish words of posts – something I don’t actually like to do.
I feel your pain 🙂
The good news is that Google is constantly working to find ways to quantify “quality” instead of building rules that don’t matter.
I would encourage you to keep doing what’s best for your audience and Google will come around 🙂
I thought you could tag videos with transcriptions now?
The reason behind the effectiveness of short messages is the fact that people hate to read. Let’s face it. As technology becomes more advance, attention spans also grow a little shorter. I can remember that my sister tells me that she does not want to read anything that is longer than 2 lines of text. That’s how short their attention span is.
Cutting to the chase is a great way to defeat short attention spans.
You are so right. Sometimes it’s not about how long the message is, but what it says that matters. We see it every day in advertising every where and more times than not, we turn away from and ignore the longer, more drawn out ads that just seem to take up more of our time for the same type of product.
Less is more! The End! 😉
Would you figure this riddle / title for a social media course: “40+ 100 = 140”
Agreed. Less is often more, especially when done creatively. Coming from a marketing background, it’s a common challenge in writing advertising copy and it takes practice! Nice article, Amie.
While some may be inclined to read long posts, I do think it is generally more successful to keep posts short and sweet. We have become so accustomed to reading chunks of information in 140 characters or less that reading longer pieces of information sometimes seems like a hassle. However, if the reader is very interested in the hook of the post, they will probably invest their time into reading a longer piece. It’s important to eliminate wordiness from posts and to make your point as quickly as possible. Like you said, reeling in the reader is the most important part!