When talking to marketers, one of the most common things mentioned is that you need to keep your content short since the attention span of people is really low. Facts cannot really deny this. You can check out this infographic to see details about how the attention span of people is going down.
According to Wikipedia:
“Attention span is the amount of concentrated time a person can spend on a task without becoming distracted. The element of distractibility occurs when the individual is uncontrollably drawn to some other activity or sensation.”
The problem is that this declining attention span quickly became just an excuse marketers use to create shorter content.
In addition, the short-from content created is more expensive because it is said that it is more complicated to create really good short content. It is true that creating content that is really effective in tidy bits is difficult. However, this does not mean that you are restricted to this.
What SEO Taught Us About Content Length
A few years ago, the norm in SEO was to create short articles, usually between 350 and 500 words. They were plastered all around the internet with backlinks to help sites climb in search engine rankings.
Then, Google figured out the fact that you cannot really say much in 500 words or less. Many of the articles that were in the top 3 results for most keywords were really bad. They did not offer the information that the reader wanted.
Nowadays, if you take a look at content length and the top search engine rankings, you see that most of the top 3 rankings include over 2,000 words.
Your Audience Is NOT Stupid
This is, by far, the most important thing to take into account when you create content. Your audience is not made out of stupid people or does not include mostly stupid people. That’s why it is a really bad idea to create short-form content.
Think about any topic you want! I guarantee you cannot explain everything that needs to be said in 500 words.
The Transition To Video Content
This idea that content needs to be short because the attention span of the viewer is short also made its way into video marketing. I do not know how it happened but some guys decided to start producing only short videos. Then, we had this idea that clips on YouTube and other social networks need to be under 3 minutes or they will not perform well.
In reality, we constantly see incredibly popular videos that are way over half an hour long. In fact, even YouTube recommends that you make videos that are at least 10 minutes long.
Just take a look at some of the top content creators on YouTube like Shane Dawson, PewDiePie or ElRubios. You will notice that many of the videos are over 10 minutes long, with some even going one hour.
Even video content needs to be longer in order to be effective and to offer great information, because your audience is not stupid.
So What’s With This Lower Attention Span?
We transitioned from books to the internet. Nowadays, it is incredibly simple to find everything that you want. At the same time, it is completely normal to just move away and look somewhere else when what you find is not what you want.
At one point in time, countless people realized how important the internet will be for the future. This is why they started to create blogs, sites, video content, images and a whole lot more.
Marketers started to look at statistics and they saw people leaving fast. They said it is because of this shorter attention span and that people skim pages. In reality, they f-ed up.
The attention span is lower because there is countless HORRIBLE content on the internet right now. People create really short articles and bad videos. Visitors leave really fast and it is not because of this attention span problem.
Be Honest With Yourself!
I know so many people (especially marketers and people in PR) that say they get bored fast if content is long or if videos are long. When I talk more and dig deep, I always find really long content that is appreciated and loved.
Be honest with yourself!
How many long videos do you watch? How many long articles do you read?
There is a pretty good possibility that they are not as few as you think right now.
Also, what content gets you to do something? Like buy or subscribe. Is it the short article? The short video? In the vast majority of cases, the answer is NO.
There are cases in which short-form content works great. But these are the exceptions. When you want to promote something and create an audience, which is usually the priority, you should produce content for people that are not dumb. You want to explain everything as properly as possible and include all the information that is vital for the topic.
You just cannot do this in 500 words or 3 minutes.
This article is short. Even so, it already has over 850 words. And I did not even touch the surface of this highly complicated topic.
Always focus on the quality of the content you create. Not the length or how much time it takes to view the video. Formatting and using white space is something else.