The old saying “time is money” is not true anymore. Time is priceless by now. On the Web people hurry up like never before. As a content creator you need to make sure you allow to digest content as fast as possible now. Otherwise
you just steal time with your content.
Cat essays vs cat memes
Have you read the latest essay about how cats influence people? Probably not. I bet you have seen some Grumpy Cat memes as of late though. You have most probably also viewed some other funny cat pictures. Don’t feel guilty! You’re perfectly normal! Even I view such pictures from time to time (of course strictly for business research to report on the latest Internet trends).
I’m not even referring to the so called content shock here yet.
It’s been known for over a 15 years that people do not read on the Web. Instead we just scan the content we see for some tidbits that stick out. Despite this some content marketers have pushed hard in the recent years for so called long-form content as the single best option to promote your business.
Why longer content is better or not
The longer the content is the better because it gets more shares, better rankings, higher conversions etc. — that’s the idea — but how many people actually read these enormous pieces of content, view these lengthy videos in their entirety or click through presentations with plenty of slides doesn’t get taken into account.
For the sake of shareability or your 15 minutes of Internet fame you prepare huge resources
like “100 content marketing tools”. Who has the time to even look up 20 of them? I don’t. I scan such a list as fast as I can to find the few gems in it.
So I actually need to invest additional time to find the few list items that are actually useful. Why not find the three or five items that matter and just review those instead?
The Mashable vs the Social Media Examiner model
Mashable has become the number one destination in social media blogging by providing huge lists of resources a few years back.
In those days it was the way to go. Smashing Magazine did that too in the web design niche while I did it for the SEO industry. Then some day the market was oversaturated. People were tired of sifting through listicles and turned to deeper resources covering just one item or a few items not dozens.
The Social Media Examiner started a few years later and did the opposite of Mashable: they cover topics in-depth. They also select tools they review very carefully. Whenever there is a tool review on SME I look it up because I expect that I don’t know the tools introduced there despite trying to be cutting edge.
Mashable on the other hand turned quick and dirty.They are known for short and often shallow notes on the newest developments on the Web and elsewhere by now. The topics are only slightly relevant to me. I seldom look up Mashable these days. I prefer The Next Web to be honest.
SME articles are often too long and have so many bold text passages that I get confused easily.
Neither of the two blogs introduced above is perfect. Combining Mashable and Social Media Examiner would be best to fulfill the reader’s needs on the current Web. Providing a quick insight or overview but with enough depth (not length!) to be still relevant.
So what exactly can you do?
- Keep it short
- Provide a summary on top of the article
- Make it readable with bold, italics, short paragraphs, quotes, subheadlines, images
- Provide a list of key points or techniques
- Link to external resources
- Cover one topic at a time
- Provide a solution
The only excuse for wasting the time of your audience is when they genuinely enjoy it. Your content has to be not only appealing but also truly entertaining . That won’t work in business oriented niches like for example SEO though.