The average attention span for online readers is 2.6 seconds. This means that we, as the content distributors, have approximately 3 seconds to prove to our readers that our content is worth reading.
I started this blog post with the intention of writing about the shifting channels with which people gather information. As you know, the public is using traditional newspaper and news outlets less and less, and are beginning to turn toward internet sites, social media platforms, blogs and forums to retrieve their news and information.
Peter Shankman, VP of Vocus and founder of helpareporter.com, attributes the shift from traditional mediums like newspapers to online platforms not to the lack of news, but to our inability to set aside the time and energy that it would take to read longer articles.
Perhaps Twitter had it right with the 140 character limit? Is this where our society is going? Should all online, and perhaps offline content have a 140 character limit to ensure its readability for America’s dwindling attention spans?
Have no fear; here are a few tips to make sure that your content demands the attention of your reader:
1.HAVE A KILLER HEADLINE.
80% of people will read your title, while a mere 20% will go on to read your whole post. This may seem silly, but if you’re having a hard time formatting your headline, borrow a Cosmopolitan magazine from your mom/sister/significant other and learn a few things about writing a great title. Here are a few examples of a great header
- What everyone should know about…
- Little known ways to…
- How to solve [problem] in 3 simple steps
- 5 ways to eliminate [problem]
Socialmediaexaminer.com suggests that 50% of your emphasis when writing an article should be focused on the quality of your headline.
2.USE A LOT OF PICTURES.
This is pretty obvious but breaking up words with pictures helps the reader to not become overwhelmed by rows and rows of words that they feel they don’t have time to read. Be sure to use a thumbnail picture whenever you share your post to your varying social media platforms.
3.BREAK UP YOUR WRITTEN CONTENT WITH BULLETS, NUMBERS AND/OR LIST FORMAT.
This is another great way to help your reader to realize the most important aspects of your blog. Being that most of your audience will simply scan your post looking for the information that they’ve set out to find, using bullet points to outline the main points of your blog will help your audience locate the meat of your article.
4.GET STRAIGHT TO THE POINT.
Tell your audience what you’re going to be writing about and a brief explanation of why, and then get right into it!
5.DON’T WRITE TRADITIONAL ENGLISH101 PARAGRAPHS.
People don’t want to focus on reading 5-6 sentences in each paragraph. It honestly is daunting for many people including myself. In breaking up your paragraphs with 1-3 sentences instead of 5-6, you will better engage your reader.
6.WRITE AS IF YOU WERE HAVING A CONVERSATION WITH YOUR BEST FRIEND.
As you know social media, including blogs, is all about engagement and REAL human interaction. Just because you are distributing your content online doesn’t mean that your posts should be condescending, patronizing, or robotic. Have a regular conversation and I promise your blogs will be easier and more enjoyable for your audience to invest their time and short attention spans on.