New Series: Six tips for getting your audience engaged

Content creation is a big problem for modern corporations.  Not only is it hard to find people inside of the company walls to create it, making it effective is almost impossible.  Sure you can publish something that gets lots of views, but most of those views go to spider bots, not human beings and when you look at the time spent by actual people, finding them spending more than a minute on your site is like finding gold in the kitchen sink.  But there are ways to fix that.

For the next couple of weeks we'll be sharing some approaches that will increase the involvement (also known as engagement) of your audience.  Some of these (like today's) may seem counterintuitive, but in the way the 21st century media works, it is crucial to learn how to create content engagingly.  Today's tip is:

Pursue brevity Chickenbrevity

Online content tends to be interruptible even when it is great content.  You have about 10 seconds to grab their attention until the next email pops up on the screen.  Some studies say 700 words for most blog posts, and 2,000 words for technical articles, is the upper limit of word count before readers lose interest.  Our experience at Footwasher Media finds it’s best not to push those limits, so my advice here is: The shorter your content the better your engagement will be. 

We recently completed a short project for a major technology corporation.  We advised them on the kind of content to develop for their community and they accepted most of what we suggested, but they balked at the length of the content developed.  We suggested content be no longer than 500 words,and  we counseled 300 was optimall.  We settled on several pieces between 500 and 700 words in length, but they insisted at least three pieces be more than 1500 words in length.  So we did an experiment. 
We did one post of a little more than 350 words on a particular subject directly related to a product line but never mentioning the product.  The post got a huge amount of engagement from customers including one particular influential engineer.  We took that conversation and wove it into a larger article (almost 2,000 words) that talked more specifically about the product. 

The result: shorter content got more views and better engagement.

So the lesson today is keep it short and to the point if you want to hold onto your audience