Content Writing: What You Need To Know In 2019

“Content is king” – you must’ve heard this zillion times, I’m sure. Now let me take you through a couple of latest variations of these 3 famous words by Bill Gates way back in 1996.

  • “If content is King, then context is emperor.”
  •  “If content is King, then distribution is queen.”
  • “If content is King, then conversion is queen.”
  • “If content is King, then curation is queen.”
  • “If content is King, then data is his queen.”
  • “If content is King, then sharing is queen.”
  • “If content is King, then engagement is queen.”
  • “If content is King, then storytelling is queen.”
  • “If content is King, then social media is queen.”

The evolution of content. It’s still evolving BTW

First things first – intelligently written & thoroughly researched content was, is & will always be THE KING. But what has changed is its consumption.

The average human attention span in 2000 was 12 seconds, but by 2013 it was only 8 seconds (1 second shorter than a goldfish!).

A surfeit of content choices & connected devices coupled with shorter attention span of the online users has changed the landscape of content. Let’s dig deeper –

1.The optimal length of social media posts

  • The optimal length of a tweet — 71 to 100 characters
  • The optimal length of a Facebook post – 40 characters
  • The optimal length of a hashtag – 6 characters
  • The optimal length of a LinkedIn post – 25 words
  • The optimal length of a Google+ headline – 60 characters maximum

Check the detailed article here 

2.Does it mean – the death of longer articles?

This BuzzSumo & Moz research finds that long-form content actually gets shared more than short-form content. That brings us to this pertinent question – why do people share? There have been a lot of talking about cracking the psychology code of Sharers – people who share content on social channels because the act satisfies their emotional need of telling others who and what they are.

You know it’s very similar to owning an Iphone, riding a Harley, and using Body Shop products. It’s like saying, I share what I am.

But the emotional motivators don’t just stop at projecting one’s identity through sharing. A study by The New York Times gives us an insight into other factors such as –

  • Connect with people
  • Self- fulfilment
  • Informing others about significant issues ( from supporting causes to products & companies they care about).

How does long-form content fit here?

Let’s take a look at some of the articles from 2017 that were shared the most under different categories ( data taken after searches on BuzzSumo) –

Parenting  –  X-Plan: Giving your kids a way out (#xplan).

Shared 1.3 M times. Word Count – 1000 +

Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?

Shared 753.5K times. Word Count – 1000+

The Best 10 Day Home Workout Plan (+ Free Printable)

Shared 672.1K times. Word Count – 650+

This 75-Year Harvard Study Found the 1 Secret to Leading a Fulfilling Life

Shared 317.1 K times. Word Count – 650+

Preventing Alzheimer’s & Dementia Naturally – 9 Diet & Lifestyle Habit Changes

Shared 301.4K times. Word Count – 1000+

All these articles are long, packed with data and useful information, and readable.

Key takeaways:

  • Create both short and long-form content.
  • What percentage of your efforts ( research, creation, design, and promotion) you want to assign to each format will depend on your business objectives.
  • Make your long-form content visually appealing.

Recently I came across an interesting study titled What is beautiful is usable by an Israeli scientist Noam Tractinsky who was puzzled by an experiment on aesthetics & usability by Japanese researchers, Masaaki Kurosu and Kaori Kashimura. They studied different layouts of controls for ATMs. All versions of the ATMs studied were similar in function, the number of buttons, and how they operated. However, some of the ATMs had the buttons and screens arranged in an attractive way, while for the others they were arranged unattractively. Result – the Japanese found that the attractive ones were perceived to be easier to use. Tractinsky was suspicious of the results; he thought the results were simply true for Japanese. He said “aesthetic preferences are culturally dependent…Japanese culture is known for its aesthetic tradition.” But for Israel, this won’t be the case. To prove his suspicions right, he got the ATM layouts from Kurosu and Kashimura, translated them from Japanese into Hebrew, and conducted a new experiment in Israel. And the results were a surprise! The experiment found that the co-relation between usability and aesthetics was stronger in Israel than Japan.

3.Clarity & power still rule

Whether you are writing content for a website, an ad copy, or a research paper – remember your content is part of the user experience. Your content should make the life easier for your users by cutting through the clutter and delivering what they want. Let me give you a simple example:

 “According to a report by United Nations World Tourism Organization, which is a specialized agency of the United Nations, in 2011 international tourism receipts exceeded US$1 trillion for the first time.”

Now compare this with

“In 2011 international tourism receipts exceeded US$1 trillion for the first time, according to a report by United Nations World Tourism Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations.”

Which one of the above examples convey the message clearly in a short time?

When it comes to creating powerful content, there are 3 elements which I think turn a good content into a POWERFUL one

1) Empathy: Empathy is the key to a positive user experience.  It’s about putting yourself in your audience’s shoes. Seeing and experiencing things as they would have. It’s analysing and making decisions with your audience’s eyes.

And to do so you need to prepare the answers to these questions:

  • Who is the audience? ( This sounds obvious. But, you will be shocked to see how many writers fail to understand.)
  • What do they need to know? What do they want to gain from the content?
  • How do I help them?

These questions will help you draft the framework of the content – helping you decide which points to keep and what to exclude.

2) Remain True: Authenticity is a hot topic these days. Marketers and advertisers are trying different ways to create authentic content. Some useful tips to write authentic content include:

  • Consistency – your message should be same across all the channels.
  • Personal examples – people like to learn from examples or stories happening around them. Bees, Shoots, and Leaves: Amazing Adventures in the Microworld posted in the GE blog is a wonderful example of using personal examples in a branded content.
  • Present facts as facts. Don’t distort them because users are smart and you are not the only source of information.

3) Expertise – Following Google’s EAT guidelines (“Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness”), a lot of focus is on writing content where one has domain expertise. Here’re Google’s suggestions for High E-A-T pages –

High E-A-T medical advice should be written or produced by people or organizations with appropriate medical
expertise or accreditation. High E-A-T medical advice or information should be written or produced in a professional style and should be edited, reviewed, and updated on a regular basis

High E-A-T news articles should be produced with journalistic professionalism—they should contain factually
accurate content presented in a way that helps users achieve a better understanding of events. High E-A-T news
sources typically have published established editorial policies and robust review processes.

High E-A-T information pages on scientific topics should be produced by people or organizations with appropriate
scientific expertise and represent well-established scientific consensus on issues where such consensus exists.

High E-A-T financial advice, legal advice, tax advice, etc., should come from trustworthy sources and be
maintained and updated regularly.

High E-A-T advice pages on topics such as home remodeling (which can cost thousands of dollars and impact
your living situation) or advice on parenting issues (which can impact the future happiness of a family) should also
come from “expert” or experienced sources that users can trust.

High E-A-T pages on hobbies, such as photography or learning to play a guitar, also require expertise.

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