Mark Schaefer recently pointed out in his blog post, “I love big blogs and I cannot lie,” that long-form content is not dead. In fact, Mark shares compelling statistics supporting the argument that regardless of length, if your content is relevant, interesting, timely, and entertaining (the RITE model), it will be consumed by interested readers and consumers.
Mark’s post grabbed my attention because the ongoing mantra I hear over and over from top social media marketing experts is that our content needs to be shorter because the attention span of the consumer has gotten shorter. In fact, as Mark alludes to in his post, I’ve been told that the average attention span one hundred years ago was twenty minutes. Today, it’s about nine seconds, the same attention span of a goldfish.
Here’s my take on the issue. I believe the RITE model Mark mentions, and not the length of a post, video or podcast, is the primary factor when it comes to the engagement level of the consumer. I also believe that unless you capture the consumer’s attention in the first place, he or she will never make the commitment to digest your content, regardless of length.
For this reason, I believe two additional factors determine who reads your content:
(1) The reputation of the creator of the content;
(2) The effective use of oral or written headings and introductions in posts, podcasts and videos (live and recorded). I think a combination of all the above is what dictates the level of consumption of your content.
For example, if I know and respect the author of a piece of content, I’ll make time to read a long post, listen to a long podcast, or watch an extended video. The length of the content has absolutely nothing to do with my decision to consumer it.
When I see any content shared by Dr. Peter H. Diamandis. I’m going to digest the entire piece. Size is not a factor. I know the quality of the original information Peter shares, and how he shares it, is always going to be worth my time and attention.
In a similar fashion, I feel the same way about Mark’s content. For this reason, I’m sharing his post because I think it’s important for all of us to create and digest valuable digital content. It’s also imperative to remember that when you see little or no consumer engagement with a piece of your content, maybe it’s not because of short attention spans, but because, as Mark says, “your content has a short, interesting span.”
I encourage all my entrepreneur and business friends to produce and create excellent content which share answers, solutions, and value. Short or long, that’s the kind of content people will be waiting in line to read, learn from, and share.