“People don’t read anymore.”
This is almost a maxim in the modern age. It’s one of those seemingly self-evident truisms that almost no one questions. So, slash that copy. Cut it. Make it concise. Bite-sized. Tweetable. “Young people won’t read anything longer than a few sentences.” That’s what all the so-called “gurus” say, right?
How many people do you know who have read every single Harry Potter book? Cover-to-cover? Multiple times? A staggering 35% of Americans have read at least one Harry Potter book—and among those who have, about half of them aged 35-55 have read the entire series.
There are people who have read the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series (the inspiration for HBO’s “Game of Thrones”) 9x through—that’s around 40,000 pages in total. “Fifty Shades of Grey” sold 125 million copies in 52 languages. Young adult book sales are up 40% in the last five years.
Overwhelmingly, the data shows: Gen X, Millennials, and Zoomers love reading.
So where does the myth that (young) people don’t read anymore come from? It stems from a misunderstanding of our short attention spans. Our attention flits from message to message, rapidly scanning a million nodes of stimuli for something to engage with. You have a few seconds to get someone’s attention. And your competition for this attention is ruthless and unceasing.
But, what happens when you get someone’s attention? Not just their 2-second pause between ideas—their real, undivided attention? The kind of attention a reader has when they’re hooked on every syllable of “The Prisoner of Azkaban?”
When you’ve actually earned someone’s attention, you can keep them engaged with long content. In fact, you must.
They want something with more substance than a tweet, an ad, or a 100-word mini-blog. If they’re really engaged, they want the whole story. Why? Because they trust you.
Here’s how we explain it to our clients.
Relevance. Engagement. Trust. Conversion.
All content begins with relevance. This is where attention is captured. At this stage, you have a few seconds to prove your worth.
Once you have hooked someone with relevant content, you move toward engagement. At this stage, people want to know more. They have already decided you’re worth their time, so give them something to dig into. Long-form content is absolutely acceptable here.
Engagement leads to trust.
Trust leads to conversions—sales, donations, revenue, whatever you’re hoping to inspire from your audience.
Stop cutting down on your content.
Stop forcing everything you share to fit into some tiny cookie-cutter template you think our attention spans demand. Give people something worthy of their attention.
Give your audience something of value to engage with. Write as much content as you need to in order to drive your audience from first-glance, attention-grabbing relevance to true, sustained engagement.
That’s the only way you will build the type of trust in your brand that’s necessary to fulfill your conversion goals.
Need Help Finding Your Way in the Digital Space?
NAICS: 541613, 519130, 541910, 541618, 541820, 561422