Is Written Content Dead?

According to research by eMarketer in 2014, around $134.7 billion will be spent each year on content marketing with a heavy leaning towards social media and video marketing.

People are busy, they’re using more mobile devices than ever, according to the 2014 Mobile Behavior Report by SalesForce, and that means the content they consume needs to be bite-sized and easy to digest.

In other words, not that many people are going to be using their tablet to read War and Peace, but they’ll happily be checking out short Vine-esque video clips and infographics.

Does this mean the art of written content is dead?

Not necessarily, but it does mean that it may be due time for a makeover. Unfortunately, some companies think that just about anyone can write, but there’s often a chasm between a “writer” and a “marketer.” You can’t expect someone with an MBA in marketing to be able to put together a professional grade video, right?

The same is true of written content.Not just anyone can write, and even a professional writer probably has niches (i.e. a creative writer isn’t necessarily qualified to be an SEO writer). Assign tasks to the right people who are skilled in the right niches.

Rise of the Machines

PewResearch Center reports that 54 percent of adults have posted a video they created themselves. This is one of the driving forces behind YouTube becoming the third most popular social media platform in the world according to eMarketer, trailing behind Facebook and Google+. However, when it comes to searching online via social media platforms, YouTube is the top dog beating out even Facebook as of June 2014 reports CompetePRO.

People have figured out there’s no need to read an article when you can just find a video about it. There are seven major types of learning styles including visual, aural, verbal, social, solitary, logical and physical. Videos incorporate the first five (and perhaps at times six) styles, while solely written content can incorporate a maximum of four (visual, social, solitary, and logical).

The “Write” Way

Figures might largely be pointing to the death of written content, but there’s a fine line between rejuvenation and defeat. There’s also plenty of evidence that written content is an excellent driving force for businesses. For example, according to Content+ research, if a website has a blog you can enjoy 434 percent more indexed pages and a whopping 97 percent more indexed links.

Of course, not all blogs feature written content and there’s an influx of vlogs (video blogs), but for the most part, blogs still feature a lot of written content. The difference between blog content and “other” written content is the style and goals—blogs are designed to engage, to be very shareable and to give a face to what might be an otherwise impersonal seeming business.

Basically, people are hungry to connect. It’s just that videos and pictures can seem easier than blocks of text.

How to Incorporate Text

Here’s some food for though: According to TMG Custom Media research, 90 percent of customers dub “custom content” as useful regardless of the form it takes. Quality matters whether it’s text, video, images or anything else. In the B2B world, Social Media B2B studies have shown that blogs connected to sites lead to 67 percent more leads each month than those without blogs.

The trick is making the written content nugget sized—don’t throw the whole chicken at users in a mobile ready world and expect them to feast. Pictures and videos might seem easier to enjoy, but that doesn’t have to be the case.

There will always be different types of “readers” who have various preferences, but don’t assume written content will be ignored. According to an article in the New York Times, “Of all the magical powers wielded by Harry Potter, perhaps none has cast a stronger spell than his supposed ability to transform the reading habits of young people.”

Future generations are indeed reading (without any need for pictures) because the content is engaging, designed just for them, and entertaining – where customized written content and technology meet.Therein lies the key.

Jessica Tyner

About the Author: Jessica Tyner

Jessica Tyner, born and raised in Oregon is a member of the Cherokee Nation, is a Pushcart Prize nominee, author of "The Last Exotic Petting Zoo" and has been a professional writer for over 10 years. She received her master’s degree in Writing from Portland State University, completing the second year of the program as an intern with the Fulbright Commission in London, England. An extensive traveler, she has lived in England, South Korea and Costa Rica and has had her work published around the world. She’s also the founder of The Jessica Tyner Scholarship Fund, an annual gift for graduate students with a Native American connection who are pursuing an advanced degree in writing or a related field.

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