There’s something to be said for long, meaty content, but today’s Internet users are far more interested in quick hits and scannable articles. If you’re still writing in the same style and format as you did 10 years ago, something probably needs to change.
The Intense Craving for Digestible Content
Social media has been extremely influential in all areas of digital marketing – especially content marketing. Because social media is designed around mobile experiences and sharing, users prefer to immerse themselves in content that’s quick and easy to navigate. That’s why a simple meme does a lot better than a 2,000-word editorial, even when the latter has considerably more value than the former.
It’s also important to recognize that attention spans are shorter than ever – though it’s sometimes unclear whether short attention spans created the need for short-form content, or vice versa.
Either way, the average human attention span is now just eight seconds. That means digestible content isn’t just preferred, it’s necessary.
4 Ways You Can Serve Up the Right Content
So how you can serve up something that satisfies the marketplace’s desire for easily digestible content? There’s ample room for flexibility and creativity in short-form content, but these are a few of the top suggestions:
1. Keep Your Paragraphs Short
If you visit successful blogs these days, you’ll notice that they read more like a stream of thoughts and less like an academic textbook. While paragraphs still serve a purpose, you can no longer get away with five to seven sentence chunks of text. People get distracted and end up tuning out the second half of the paragraph.
“Limit each paragraph to 2-3 sentences at most,” explains Puranjay Singh of SingleGrain. “It’s even okay to use one-sentence paragraphs if necessary, but use them sparingly or your post will look like a bullet-pointed blog without the bullets.”
2. Break Content with Subheadings
Have you ever tried to read an academic essay? While the subject matter itself is often boring, it’s the formatting that makes them so tedious to get through. There are massive paragraphs – one after the other – with very little to break up the text from start to finish.
If you want your content to read more like an engaging blog post and less like an academic research paper, then you’ll need to remember that subheadings are your friend. They keep people engaged and prevent the fatigue that generally sets in when multiple paragraphs are stacked one after the other.
3. Leverage the Power of Visuals
Images, videos, and graphics do what text cannot. They give the reader a visual by which they can relate. They also work (in conjunction with subheadings) to break up text and provide visual relief. Just make sure to stay away from generic stock photos and only use high-resolution images and videos that complement the textual content itself.
4. Make an Impression with Intro
Today’s Internet readers are scanners. Typical scanning behavior starts by reading the opening paragraph, taking a look at the subheadings and visuals, and then reading the first sentence of every paragraph. If the first sentence doesn’t wow readers, then there’s very little chance that they’ll survive long enough to read the rest of the paragraph. That’s why you should focus much of your attention on producing quality first sentences for each section.
Take an Honest Look at Your Content
It’s time to take an honest look at your content and evaluate how it’s doing. While you may think it’s great, the only thing that matters is how your readers are processing it.
As we move through 2017, you’re going to notice that short-form content thrives, while all other formats stagnate. The choice is obvious – how will you proceed?