Friday Jan 04, 2013

The Value of Short and Simple

StopwatchPeople are busy. You’re busy.

2013 is going to be about helping people find and consume your content and message as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

When people have their time wasted, they’re not happy.

If they wanted to read reams of text, they’d go buy “War and Peace.”

Many brands pat themselves on the back for putting out massive content assets aimed just over their audience’s head. It impresses people inside the organization. Outside the organization, it’s getting skimmed…at best.

While users spend 6.75 hours per month on Facebook and 21 minutes a month on Twitter, the time spent considering an individual post (and that’s if it surfaces in the Facebook News Feed) is lightning fast.

Consider how fast you scroll through your own News Feed and Twitter stream. That’s how long others give your brand’s content as well. Scary, huh?

Yes, there are posting strategies for increasing engagement. But what really makes social users give a post a chance? An eye-catching image and/or a headline that’s so awesome it could almost stand on its own (which it often has to).

Twitter set its 140-character limit because that’s about how long a typical text message is. The public is accustomed to communicating via text. Anything much longer and eyes start to glaze over.

People are retweeting (and thereby endorsing) articles they themselves never took the time to read. C’mon, you know it happens all the time.

Most 20-page missives can be boiled down to a few worthwhile takeaways. The rest is filler and hot air.

If you do have volumes of sheer genius, break it up and feed it to your audience in bite sizes. Give me a bag of Skittles, don’t hand me one 50 lb. Skittle.

Social is the ideal medium for short, clear communication.

But it’s not just social. The value of short and clear applies to nearly all communication, from voicemail messages to emails.

The world and the people in it are only going to move faster in 2013. They’re adopting mobile specifically because they want to multitask and consume content on the go.

Respect the value of your audience’s time and play to it by telling them what you want them to know as clearly and as succinctly as you can.

@mikestiles
Photo: istockphoto

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