keeping-content-simpleThere has been much debate about the ideal length of online content, as well as how much depth articles should go into to be considered useful or informative. Obviously as content experts, this is a debate that we´re particularly interested in.

In the early days of content marketing, many felt that long, in-depth articles were the best way to showcase a company´s thoughts and expertise on a particular topic. But with people receiving so much information these days – not to mention the fact that they´re usually reading from their mobiles or tablets – opinions soon swayed in favour of creating shorter, more concise content that´s easier to digest.

These are important things to consider – not just in terms of word count, but also the readability level of any content that you publish.

I recently came across some interesting statistics on OKDork about the 3,000 most successful articles posted on LinkedIn´s publishing platform. Perhaps surprisingly, it was the longer articles of around 2,000 words that received the most views, likes, comments and shares.

But in a lot of cases, writing long-form content won´t be suitable or relevant for your audience.

Interestingly, despite LinkedIn´s educated audience, articles with an easier readability level (based on the Flesch-Kincaid Readability Score) performed better than those that were more challenging.

The test suggests that making your content readable for an 11-year old (a Reading Ease score of 80-89) could be the best way to ensure high viewing numbers.

However, on the other side of the debate is the idea that content should be thought-provoking and a little more challenging to read. Writing on The Drum recently, copywriter Andrew Boulton argues in favour of copy that “intrigues” and demands more effort from the reader.

In today´s fast-paced world, he argues, encouraging thought is an under-valued strategy. Why? In his view, articles that take a moment to understand are far more likely to stay in a reader´s mind.

This is an interesting view, and goes against the notion of writing ´down´ to your audience. But ultimately, it depends on the purpose of your content – you might want to entertain and engage your audience, rather than educate them.

There are so many factors when it comes to content, that it really is difficult to devise a ´one-size-fits-all´ strategy. As well as the subject, you need to consider what channel you´re posting on, the time of day that it´s published and what device it´s likely to be read on.

For example, it´s unlikely that somebody reading from their smartphone on their commute will want to read a 2,000-word technical piece – unless they´re really into that kind of thing, of course.

Were you surprised by these findings? What do you make of the results which show an “easy” readability level attracts more attention on LinkenIn?

Ben Hollom

November 4, 2014