Longer Content Performs Better Despite Shorter Attention Spans.

This time of year everyone is focused on the NCAA Basketball tournament as we all try to pick the winners and losers of the brackets. But those of us who work in social media are always trying to pick the winners and losers of our content. With more and more investment in social media comes greater expectation of ROI and still only half of corporate executives are convinced of social media’s value.

What is the Magic Formula to Become a Social Media Champion?

This is where the madness comes in – What we have been told may not actually be true. The average attention span has dropped from 12 seconds in the year 2000 to just 8 seconds by 2013 – that is shorter than the attention span of a goldfish! Nicholas Carr’s book “The Shallows” explains this with research that says the Internet has actually changed the physical structure of our brains reducing our ability to focus.

So when digital marketing experts tell us to create shorter content – around 200 words – this makes a lot of sense. Short Attention Span = Short Content. Yet this strategy is not necessarily the best. You have to go deeper and look at other factors. If your goal is to have people read all your words then this many be true, but if you value other goals like shares and views, you should give longer content more consideration.

Why Add Words that People Won’t Read?

  1. Increased shares
  2. Added link backs
  3. More search views

Apparently it doesn’t really matter if people read all of your copy, if you care about getting more people to see it. Madness. Quick Sprout confirms this. They performed an analysis on their blog and found that posts with more than 1,500 words received 68% more tweets and 22% more Facebook likes than articles with fewer than 1,500 words. They also cite a popular online journal that performed a similar analysis and found the results reported in the chart below.

Social Media Marketing
Longer copy gets more social media shares across networks. Via Quick Sprout at http://bit.ly/1ggIPic

In addition to more social shares, Moz research has found that longer content generates more link backs and more link backs help with SEO (search engine optimization). The link backs further improve search results, which increases views along with the social shares.

Finally, longer content also improves organic search. According to serpIQ, the average content length for Web pages that rank in the top 10 results on Google is at least 2,000 words. The higher the ranking, the more words – more people are choosing and liking longer content.

Social Media Marketing
Top 10 Google search results with page word length. Via Quick Sprout at http://bit.ly/1bQL13C

Longer Means More Traffic, but Don’t Expect Them to Read Most of It.

Despite all this, positive research for longer content, other statistics from Neilson Norman Group tell us that people only read 20%-30% of that content. They also found that 79% of people scan pages they come across and only 16% read word-by-word. Here it seems that our short attention spans win out. On a 1,500 word post that means most people are only reading 300 of those words.

We are attracted to longer copy, but our goldfish brains don’t allow us to read all the words. We also like to share longer copy to perhaps try and make people think we have read the entire article and prove we can sill focus. Our attention spans are shorter, but we don’t want other people to know it! Madness.

This reminds me of when I worked on the advertising account for an ice cream brand. What we discovered was that in the ice cream business customers are always attracted to the new flavors, but at the end of the day most sales came from plain old chocolate and vanilla. New flavors attract attention, but most people buy chocolate and vanilla anyway. In a similar strategy, write longer content to attract attention even if your reader only consumes one fifth of it anyway.

Extra words are important even if people don't read them Click To Tweet Longer content makes the article look more substantial to attract attention and make it worthy of being shared. Longer content also allows more room for keywords and search optimization. It doesn’t matter if most people won’t read all of it. Madness? Perhaps, but how many upsets will happen in the basketball tournament this year? One thing we can learn from the NCAA championship is that you must always plan for the unexpected.

What have you found in your experience? Have you tried longer content?

51% of Employers Pass on Applicants Due to Social Media: How Social Media Can Hurt Or Help Your Career.

How to Use Social Media to NOT Land a Job.

According to a New CareerBuilder Survey, the number of Employers passing on applicants due to Social Media Posts continues to rise. This year 51% of employers said they have found content that caused them to not hire a candidate, up from 43% last year and 34% in 2012. An additional 12% don’t research candidates on social media, but plan to start.

What are they finding that’s eliminating candidates from consideration?

The most common social media reasons to exclude a job candidate:

  • Posting provocative or inappropriate photographs or information (46%)
  • Posting information about them drinking or using drugs (41%)
  • Bad-mouthing previous company or fellow employee (36%)

The most common social media reasons to hire a candidate:

  • Feel for candidate’s personality – see good fit with company culture (46%)
  • Background information supported professional qualifications for job (45%)
  • Site conveyed a professional image (43)

How to Use Social Media to Land a Job.

The Society for Human Resource Management survey reports that 77% of organizations use social networks to recruit, 69% use social networks to target and recruit candidates with specific skill sets and 57% use social networks to make it easy for potential candidates to contact their organization about employment. Career coach Miriam Salpeter suggests using the strategies below to land a job via social media.

Take advantage of employer’s reaching out to you in social media:

  1. Use every network that makes sense for you.
  2. Be active on networks that take advantage of your best skills.
  3. Identify your target audience, “like” and engage with them.
  4. Visit, “like” or “follow” the companies that interest you.
  5. Optimize profiles with keywords employers use to search for someone like you.

How to Use Personal Branding to Land a Job

“Personal branding” is a term first used by Tom Peters in a 1997 article. Your personal brand refers to how others perceive you, how they consider your knowledge and skills and the things that make you unique and different. Today the prevalence of social media makes personal branding more important than ever. With so many employers searching social profiles, you should spend some time figuring out your personal brand. Then let your personal branding strategy drive your social profiles and your social content. Brand relationship trainer Maria Elena Duron suggests starting to create your personal brand by answering the questions below.

Find your unique promise of value by considering these questions:

  1. What does my personal brand promise to my clients and customers?
  2. How will I consistently deliver that promise?
  3. How will I make people remember my promise?
  4. How can I ensure my brand promise is unique and memorable?

I am currently reading Sally Hogshead’s new book How The World Sees You: Discover Your Highest Value Through The Science of Fascination. Sally is a former advertising copywriter who is now applying what she learned in branding products and services to branding people. Her system comes with an online assessment and ways to create an anthem of your highest distinct value expressed in 49 personality archetypes.

I discovered my personality archetype is Avant-Garde which lead to my anthem of “Delivering Enterprising Vision With Resourceful Action.” For the Spring I am incorporating these insights and resources into my classes at Johns Hopkins University. I have developed a graduate course 663.610 Personal Branding & Writing for the Web, plus added personal branding to my 661.454 Blogging & Digital Copywriting course.

Have you thought about how your social media activity affects your career? How can you use social media to find career opportunities? Have you followed a personal branding exercise and integrated it across all your social media accounts and activity?

100 Insights For New Media Marketing

For my 100th post on this blog, I thought I would share all 100 insights in one place. Each listing is a link back to the original post.

Social Media Marketing Tips

100 Insights For New Media Marketing:

  1. Is New Media Killing Traditional Media’s Star?
  2. Are Bloggers More Sensitive To Spin?
  3. Technology Makes Us Dumber, Less Productive And Stressed Out
  4. Which Advertising Medium Is best?
  5. Can Direct Response Be Creative?
  6. Toyota Apology-athon
  7. Why Does New Media Matter? Because United Breaks Guitars
  8. The Last Thing We Need Is Another Blog
  9. Walk A Mile In Zappos’ New Media Shoes
  10. Tu Voz Rings True For Minority Marketing
  11. More Information On Information Overload
  12. Does Copy Matter Less On The Web?
  13. Can The iPad Save My Newspaper?
  14. Are You Ready For A Content Revolution?
  15. Somebody’s Watching Me
  16. Is There A Creative Process?
  17. Is All Buzz Good And Cheap?
  18. Brand Extensions Achieve MAXIMum Failure
  19. Speak Softly And Carry A Big Marketing Stick
  20. Is Facebook’s Privacy Policy Friend or Foe?
  21. BP Can’t Get Beyond Petroleum
  22. Are Mobile Ads Still Annoying?
  23. Are Intellectual Property Rights Wrong?
  24. EBSCO, Forbes, Time Open The Digital Divide
  25. Yahoo Cheers Associated Content Acquisition–Society Jeers
  26. Can Millennials Save Us Through Cause Marketing?
  27. Creativity Beats Media In TV ROI
  28. GM Recall Recalls Past PR Crises
  29. Cause Marketing Or Crisis Response?
  30. US Census: Bad Ads But Great Information
  31. Where Is The Star Power In The Gulf Clean Up?
  32. Cause Marketing’s Future Is Engagement Through Social Media
  33. Churchill, TED And New Marketing
  34. Blah, Blah, Blog: Why Companies Should Listen
  35. Online Research: Temptations and Limitations
  36. Does .005% Make A Difference? Ask Toyota
  37. Can Marketing Statistics Improve Your NFL Team?
  38. Celebrity, Media Outreach And Events Oh My!
  39. Cable TV Decline: Media Planning Gets Tougher
  40. Failed Test? Try An Ethnographic Study
  41. Do We All Need Twitter Editors?
  42. The Press Release, Blogger Outreach And SEO
  43. New Media Needs A New Name
  44. Public Relations Challenges For Non-profits
  45. Three Is The Magic Number
  46. Corporate Communications, Marketing, IMC, PR and Advertising. What’s the difference?
  47. Which Social Media Conversation Are You Joining?
  48. Earth Day PSA 2.0
  49. Click Here: Digital Call To Actions
  50. Measuring Print Response 2.0
  51. Visual Continuity in Print And Digital
  52. Brand Equity: Tangible Assets Are A Small Part Today’s Brand Value
  53. Do You Have Social Media Fatigue?
  54. Which Came First The Product Or Value?
  55. Ride The Cluetrain To Five Easy Pieces: New Marketing Strategy For A New Digital Market
  56. The Top Ten Things I’ve Learned in Marketing and Advertising
  57. Social Media Is A Big Idea For Small Business
  58. Cause Marketing to Boost Startups and Small Business
  59. As Smartphone Ownership Crosses 50% And Mobile Ad Spending Jumps 80% Keep 3 Key Measures In Mind
  60. Search Gets Social
  61. A Dead Guy Is Following Me On Twitter: Signs Social Media Is Taking Over
  62. Visual Continuity: Is It Always A Good Strategy?
  63. Big Ideas And Big Results Don’t Need Big Budgets
  64. Afraid of Digital? History Says Run To It, Not Away
  65. Savages Movie Written With Fragment Digital Media In Mind
  66. A Social Media Experiment: TDI Club Forum
  67. Hallucinations Aren’t Contagious, But Social Media Is Real For Many Business Functions
  68. Do You Look For Wrongs Or Rights? Stop Social Media Excuses
  69. “Like” Is More Than A Facebook Icon
  70. Forrester: Facebook and Twitter Do Almost Nothing for Sales
  71. Communications: The Language That Drives Revenue
  72. Brand Engagement Through The “Martydom Effect”
  73. Super Bowl Ads: A Unique Opportunity for Undivided Attention
  74. Fear Means Go: Stretch Yourself For Social Media Success
  75. Successful Entrepreneurs Make Mistakes To Discover New Approaches, Opportunities And Business Models
  76. What Do We Do With Out-Of-Date Advertising Professors?
  77. Gen-Y Honda Student Campaign Gets Results With This Gen-Xer
  78. A Text For That? App Hype Shouldn’t Discount Text Marketing
  79. Trouble Harnessing Social Media? Relationships Can’t Be Automated
  80. Can Retail Make Room For Showrooming?
  81. There Are No Top 10 Best Rules for Social Media Marketing
  82. Has PR Become An Unsustainable 24/7 Profession: Do We Really Need Social Media Mission Control Centers?
  83. Do You Have To Be Active On Social Media? Do You Like Being Invited To A Party And Being Ignored?
  84. Filling The Digital Marketing Gap 19 Students At A Time
  85. Mom’s Don’t Tweet But They Do Watch The Voice And #VoiceSave Through Their Teens
  86. The 12 Ways of Brand Community Value: My Year End Social Media Tips List
  87. Research Says Add New Media, But Don’t Drop The Old: Study Of Over 400 Successful Marketing Campaigns
  88. What Is Your Social Media BFF? 42% Of Adults Now Use Multiple Social Sites
  89. Shakespeare Predicts Super Bowl Commercial Winners: Research Shows Sex And Humor Aren’t The Key, It’s Story
  90. USA Today Ad Meter Super Bowl Results: Story Wins With Puppy Love And Others!
  91. If You’re Simply Adding To The Noise, Facebook Will Now Turn Off Your Organic Reach
  92. Airline Industry Has Highest Response Rate On Twitter And Facebook. What About In Winter Storm Pax?
  93. Irony: Sharing Social Media About Spending Less Time On Social Media
  94. 5 Ways Social Media Can Fuel Startup Success
  95. 24 Hour Rule: What Harry S. Truman Can Teach Us About Social Media
  96. Advertising Campaigns Are Dead: Brand Story Is The New Big Idea
  97. Star Bellied Sneeches: Social Media Badges Can Save Companies Billions
  98. Return On Relationship: Thanks Ted For Living It
  99. Behind Amazon’s Pay To Quit Program: Happy Employees + Social Media = Real Value
  100. 100 Tips For New Media Marketing