Ed Harrison is the SVP, B2B Tech Practice Lead at InkHouse.
A version of this post initially appeared on the InkHouse blog.
Are you ready for the post-text future?
(I acknowledge the irony of using the written word to comment on its de-emphasis.)
Earlier this year, the New York Times’ Farhad Manjoo headlined a collective of reporters cataloging the trends shaping the digital world.
The takeaway? While words still matter, video, images and audio have taken the lion’s share of our attention from text-based content — attention spans that were already lagging behind that of a goldfish.
From the longform journalism of the New York Times’ podcast The Daily to Google’s ambitious Accelerated Mobile Pages format for publishers, major media players are embracing new ways to create, publish and distribute their content. Our increasingly digitized lifestyle also presents new opportunities for marketers and PR pros to rethink the way we tell stories using fewer words, and more, rich content, such as:
- Video. Quite simply, video works — it delivers the best marketing ROI. It doesn’t need to be fancy, and it certainly doesn’t need to be long — from 30 seconds on Instagram to 2 minutes on YouTube. Facebook Live offers a means to stream events — company launches, major events or even peeks behind the scenes at company culture — with favorable page reach, and engagement six times that of standard video.
- Sound. With more than 70 million Americans listening to at least one podcast each week, podcasts have become the new blogs. The spoken word provides unique ways to share messages, through existing podcasts or new ones attached to a specific company, brand or cause.
- Images. Visual content drives engagement, shares and retention, for B2B and B2C marketers alike. Even something as simple as a text-based Twitter card can increase engagement.
Less Is More
We all know the media landscape is changing (again). My colleague Tina Cassidy recently shared her conversation with a senior editor at a major news outlet. No one is reading the glut of news, and publishers are favoring “fewer stories, but more impactful ones.” PR is staying apace, so the time has come to shed our “more is better approach” and, instead, focus on generating fewer, better stories targeted at key audiences, measured with real data.
As communicators, the post-text world simultaneously changes everything — and nothing. The assets may be more visual, but the foundation — a strong story, grounded in authenticity and extended with a unique point of view — remains critical.