Shut Your Website Down. People Don't Read Anymore
I’m used to reading Tweets from “experts” making outlandish claims about how audiences react to content, or which method of outreach is now “dead,” so it takes something fairly incendiary to get me to engage.
Something like one of Sports Illustrated’s digital team putting a hard cap on the amount of words you can use on the web.
I’ve been in digital media for 12 years. One thing I’ve learned is that nobody wants to read anything over 1,000 words. MTV is more proof.
— Andy Gray (@AndyGray35) June 28, 2017
Nobody. Not one person, will read more than a thousand words. So spake the mastermind behind sharing Sports Illustrated’s highbrow “women in swimwear content.”
Seems conclusive. He’s had 12 years in the digital game, and he knows anything with 1,001 words in it will be consigned to the dustbin of history.
This is Bollocks. People Read.
I’ve only had 10 years in digital content creation as a professional, but I’ve been writing for the web for far longer. So it’d be easy for me to spend the next thousand words explaining exactly why Andy Gray is wrong.
Or I could see what people are reading, what they’re sharing, and whether that 1,000 word limit is actually a hard cap.
Spoiler. It’s not.The most shared article about #GE2017 was over 1,700 words. Click To Tweet
“How many of Jeremy Corbyn’s policies do you actually disagree with?” – 102,655 Facebook shares, 1,779 words
“Edward Snowden: the whistleblower behind the NSA surveillance revelations” – 3.9 million page views, 2,597 words
“Timelessly elegant at 100: Gone With The Wind’s Olivia de Havilland celebrates milestone birthday” – 1.7m social shares, 1,363 words
We analyzed thousands of coding interviews. Here’s what we learned. – Most popular Medium story (9:30am, 29/6), 3,517 words.
People Don’t Mind Length. They Care About Quality.
Even a cursory glance at what people share and read will show you that any talk of a word limit for an article is rubbish.
If an article is well-written, insightful and interesting, if it hooks a reader from the very beginning, and if it entertains, informs or persuades them, it will be successful. Whether it’s 30 words or 3,000 words.
So don’t listen to Andy Gray. 1,000 words might be overdoing it for an article about models with their norks on show, but if you’ve got something worth saying and that people want to read, you take as long to say it as you need to.
And not a word more.
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