Sorry, but with content it’s quality AND quantity…
The depressing truth is (according to research by Moz) that over 50% of content online has zero shares and nobody is linking to it.
We’re also told that the most shared content online is 1,000+ words, so the pressure is on to beef up the word count, but not lose any of the engagement.
And it’s not easy…
85% of content online is less than 1,000 words, so you’re not alone in thinking getting to the point with brief well-formed writing is the way to go.
But, just because your communication has professional well-shot photos, well-researched stats, is insightful or is the funniest thing since Charlie Bit Me!, it doesn’t mean it will get noticed.
We’ve all done it, tweeted something we thought was a hoot and zilch, nobody cares.
Same with quantity, if you’re producing reams of content hoping something will stick, if that’s lots of waffle, badly written or with loads of filler, who is going to read it to find the good bit or let alone share it?
Yes, we love video, quizzes, stats and lots of images, and promotion is everything, but with the pressure on the written word, how can we keep up the momentum and produce longer content that keeps the impatient online reader engaged.
Once upon a time
With shorter ramblings, structure isn’t so important as generally we can get to the point and then leave. However, unlike your daily newspaper, online we don’t normally know how long a post is before we start reading and scrolling.
According to a report by Time the average user spends 2.6 seconds looking for something of interest and will spend around 15 seconds reading the article they land on if interested.
So we certainly can’t take for granted that they will read what we want them to… we need to get to the point and then some…
One of the things we talk about a lot is making sure your content has a story, so a beginning, middle and end. This structure enables the user to know why they are there, tempt them to read on, get to the point and then summarise if they’re interested.
“I’m always pretending that I’m sitting across from somebody. I’m telling them a story and I don’t want them to get up until it’s finished”
― James Patterson
We don’t need to read everything to share
Whether your article is 300 words or 1,000 it’s unlikely users are reading every single word.
But that doesn’t mean they won’t share it? We’re very good at skimming content for what we’re looking for or something that will grab our attention.
We do it all the time. Someone has shared something on Facebook looks interesting, you click on it, read a bit and then share in agreement.
Most users read about 60% of the article, so they don’t need to read every line to share, far from it, they just need to engage with something, so make it easier for them.
Format is everything. Use short sentences and titles, lists and bullets are great, bold and italics for emphasis and pull out key content or quotes as you scroll.
Lose your work voice, man
Be aware of your ‘work voice’. We all do it, we might write a brilliant post on Facebook to our mates that’s personable and witty and then when it comes to writing at work, we put on our work voice… and start using ‘therefore’ and rabbiting on about ‘synergies’.
We’re not saying that you should start writing content about how drunk you got at the weekend, but there is a particular tone of voice we use sometimes at work, and can in fairness be quite boring to read.
How many of you picked up on the fact, I had ‘man’ written in the title? Using word play, unexpected words or fun analogies can be very impactful and keep the reader on their toes.
Comparing your subject matter to something unlikely and topical is a great way to encourage this – see what we did here: 4 Ways in which SEO is like Game of Thrones.
Obviously, it might not be relevant, but even for the most serious of clients, it’s still good to be aware of it. Try to channel a bit of your out-of-work voice when writing and we bet your content will be all the more livelier and engaging for it.
Don’t sit on the fence
There is a time for sitting on the fence eg. talking politics at work events or if your parents are having a blazing row. When you’re trying to instigate a reaction, you need an opinion. We won’t all agree with it, but it does matter. So research it well, put your point forward and it will matter to people more.
“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”
― Robert Frost
Additionally, an opinion makes it personal. We can all talk about who turned up to London Fashion Week and who was sitting where, but everyone else will be doing that too and they may have had a better seat than you.
So opening up about your opinions, on what worked and what didn’t, may be more controversial, but it’ll be more interesting to read. How can we agree with you, if we don’t know your opinion?
Keep it friendly tho, you don’t want to sound like Heat magazine!
And finally, a few words from the wise…
Shareable content is easy if you have bucket loads of fresh research to talk about or your cat has just done something hilarious. But the chances are, you don’t have any of these, so we hope the above is helpful.
But, why listen to us? On a final note, there is one thing, that will make the 1,000 words flow easier…
“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”
― Stephen King
And there you have it – 1,000 words! Just.