The average person’s attention span is eight seconds and the web moves fast. So, when it comes to content, if you want to get noticed, every word you use must be wielded like a katana and be impeccably precise and wickedly efficient.
Forget the elevator pitch, this is the era of elevator engagement — choose your word weapons wisely, slip in before the doors shut, make your mark, slip out and then look for a new open door to do it all over again.
To master this skill, you need to become a content ninja. Here’s how to get started…
1. Eliminate the unnecessary.
Focus on stating concepts only once. For example, if you say “I’m having a bad morning of epic proportions,” that tells your audience all we need to know. No need to list every bad thing that happened, or to tell us that one thing was “bad,” another was “awful” and yet another was “the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
Also, use the fewest words possible to state concepts. For example, instead of saying something, “hardly ever” happens, just say, “rarely.” Or instead of saying, “We are big fans of this blogger and really like his perspective on [topic+link]” just say, “Love this: [link]”
2. Lead with the good stuff.
Remember thesis statements from your high school English class days? Try to develop one for every piece of digital content you share. Always lead with that thesis statement and follow with supporting information, so you can catch the attention of skimmers.
For example, instead of “Due to budget cuts and blah, blah blah, we’ve been forced to examine our priorities and have decided to explore restructuring the marketing department blah blah blah…” say, “We are restructuring our marketing division for the following reasons
3. Junk the jargon.
Business jargon and mission-statement speak takes up a lot of space in content and comes off as fussy and forgettable. People understand that your company is full of grown-ups who know their stuff. Talking down to them to prove this point will only make you look snooty.
For example, words and phrases like “whereas,” or “In light of” or “I hesitate to say this,” (um…but you’re going to anyway, right?) should be pruned from your digital vocabulary, period. Instead of adding gravitas to content, they act as dead branches that suck nourishment away from the critical concepts.
4. Embrace hyperbole!
If the interwebs are like Vegas, then hyperbole is the neon sign that helps stuff stand out and get read. So, don’t be afraid to say things like, “I love this!” or “This is shocking.” or “Best. Post. Ever.” when it is warranted. Also remember that symbols catch people’s eye, so, while exclamation points, question marks and emoticons may feel dorky, they too serve a purpose in getting your content noticed.
What if you don’t have any strong feelings about the content that you produce or share, and nothing is exclamation point worthy? Then, you may want to rethink your content strategy. If none of your content does it for you, chances are it will do nothing for your audience, either.
5. Ruthlessly edit.
It took me some time to write this post. Well, not just to write it…but to conceptualize it, write it, shape it, edit it, proof it, optimize it, re-proof it and post it.
My company only blogs weekly, so our posts tend to be longer so we can fully explore topics. But, that doesn’t give us a license to take your attention span on a goose chase of all of the insights lounging in our subconscious minds. The information still has to be tight. And, achieving that tightness takes time. Let your audience know that they’re worth the effort by polishing your content before you publish it.
No matter which of these ninja tactics you choose, the goal is always the same: squeeze the maximum amount of quality content into the smallest amount of space, using so much grace and speed that it seems almost effortless. Kinda like this…