The Distracted Online Viewer - New Ways to Deliver Content

Technology and social media have changed the way we procure our information. We have acquired a ‘search’ mentality, which presents us with endless content options. As a result, we need to present our content in a way that allows it to rise to the top and immediately capture peoples’ attention.

You want to know something? There is a great chance you can find what you are looking for. Search engines, hashtags, forums and other ways which sort and curate content have changed the way we work, and the way we prioritize. It is now more about understanding what the right questions are and knowing where to look for answers, than needing to retain knowledge.

The downside is, we have become distracted viewers. We are offered up so much content, much of it without an established level of authority. Skimming content to determine its value, and to assess if it will provide the information we need has become necessary for some.  We have become distracted viewers, always looking for the next thing. Making sure your content rises to the top is still vital, but it does not guarantee that people will remain captivated by your content long enough for you to engender any action from them.

In order to hold someone’s attention, and to ensure you are heard, you need to structure your content knowing people are initially skimming it. Presentation is so important. This means design, navigation and content.

When online our first cues are visual. Once our eye has been caught, we then decide to dig deeper. Think of infographics. Overdone sure, but they reached a level of popularity because we are distracted viewers.

Your content needs to be kept short and to the point, delivering the main thrust of your argument upfront. People need to see an immediate value for them and they need to be presented with clear calls to action.

Here is a brief checklist of things to consider

  • What do you want to say? Why?
  • Who are my audiences? Why would they care? What is the value to them? How do they search? How do they make decisions? Is my content within their attention span tolerance? Have I thought for my audience?
  • Can my content be found?
  • What do I want my readers to do? Have I enabled them to take action?
  • How can I measure the effectiveness of my content? What are the data points? Have I set up any benchmarks?

How do you search? Will these questions change the way you write?