Written Content Is Dying. Or Is It?
Is written content really on its deathbed, or is there still a bright future ahead of it?
You're currently reading a written article. But how many written articles have you read in the past week? How does that compare with the other forms of content you've consumed, such as videos you've watched, podcasts you've heard, and even social media conversations you've been apart of?
If you like most American consumers, you've found yourself gradually shifting toward other forms of content consumption and away from the written article. This isn't a reflection on you, nor is it a commentary on American literacy or reading comprehension. Instead, it could merely be the byproduct of a long trend that has spelled the doom of written content entirely.
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But is written content really on its deathbed, or is there still a bright future ahead of it?
The problems with written content
Let's start by talking about some of the problems we have with written content and why it's in such decline.
- Oversaturation. The biggest problem has to be oversaturation. A couple of decades ago, clever webmasters discovered that written content was one of the best ways to game search engine algorithms. It was also the fastest loading form of content for an Internet that was slow and unreliable. It was only a matter of time before these trends cemented themselves into the era of content marketing. These days, every business owner and every individual with a blog spends at least some time writing and publishing new content on a regular basis. And with so much written content flooding the market now, it's hard to find new topics that people actually want to read or topics that stand out.
- Mobile web traffic. We also need to acknowledge the role that mobile devices have played on the lifespan of written content. With a laptop or a conventional desktop computer, it's pretty easy to scroll down an article and read all the words on the page. But with a smartphone, or even a tablet, videos and other forms of content tend to be easier to access. Mobile web traffic has been climbing steadily for many years, and it now represents the vast majority of all web traffic.
- Slow processing. Even if you're a fast reader, you process visual information much faster than you process the written word. Would you rather get all your information by watching a 30-second video or by reading a 1,000-word article that takes you several minutes to complete? The truth is, writing just isn't the most concise way to convey information anymore.
So what are the content competitors threatening written articles? The need for content is never going to evaporate; that's why the biggest threat to written content isn't the absence of content but better forms of content, such as:
- Video content. There's no question that video content is powerful. It's fast, easy to access and easy to process by all audiences.
- Podcasting. By 2024, there will be an estimated 164 million regular podcast listeners in the United States, and that number will probably grow from there. The authenticity of podcast hosts and the ease of multitasking while listening help to support podcast's continued growth.
- Mixed media. Some content creators are also doing more in the realm of mixed media, combining writing, audio, and video into singular, comprehensive pieces.
The remaining strengths of writing
But before we start coming up with an epitaph for the grave on written content, we need to acknowledge its remaining strengths, such as:
- Search. For search engines, written content still has tremendous advantages, allowing you to optimize for specific keywords and phrases.
- Structure. Written content gives you more flexibility to customize headings, lists, fonts and tags. Better-structured written content can make it trivially easy to follow the overall structure.
- Accessibility. Written content can be referenced more easily than its video counterparts. It's also easier to access in some forms.
Making the most of written content
If written content still makes up the majority of your online marketing strategy, don't fret. There are many tactics that can help you make the most of written content and keep it alive in an era with so many competitors.
- Strive for originality. Regurgitating old thoughts is no longer enough to be successful. If you want any hope of making your written content work, you need to strive for originality, coming up with unique topics or covering existing topics in novel ways.
- Polish, polish, polish. Quality beats quantity every time in the world of written content. That's why you should spend ample time polishing every article you produce. Fact check yourself, revise sections to be more organized, and iron out every detail so there's no possibility of error.
- Highlight the advantages of writing. There are some things that writing does well that other mediums can't quite get right. The permanence of words on the page and the power of eloquent prose currently can't be replicated by ephemeral videos or podcast conversations.
- Dabble in other mediums. If you can't beat them, join them. Don't be afraid to make other mediums and essential part of your overall content marketing strategy.
Overall, written content remains a strong element of any content marketing strategy. However, we can't afford to ignore its weaknesses or pretend that it's as powerful as it used to be. If you want your written content to continue performing well, you need to highly prioritize its quality and make sure that's with the rest of your content strategy.
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