Too Much Content – Advice I Love to Ignore

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been told there is too much content I’d have, like $5.

The thing I see right away in the content is that there is far too much content. MORE PICTURES!!” -Sam, Web Designer, 11/16/2012

I agree! We need more pictures. Who’s going to take them?

When people say that a website needs less text, what they are really describing is a graphic design problem. They want a zero-entry, spoon-fed, baby-stepped introduction to the content. “Start me off with two-to-three words and a picture. If I like what I see, I’ll keep going.”

Too Much ContentType text layout is just as important as the pictures used on a website. Large fonts, small fonts, bold fonts, and font spacing can all play towards the readability of a site. A web site can be filled with text and still be readable as long as the text is organized correctly.

Okay, I get websites, but what about Social Media?

This morning one of my managers emailed me a link to Mashable’s Sorry, Marketers, You’re Doing Facebook Wrong. In it the author goes over a recent report that states, “When it comes to posts, less is more,” and “suggests a self-imposed 80-character wall for Facebook posts.” People are so “bombarded” with posts that we need to limit what we’re saying down to 80-character posts in order to get people to like us.

How about we make the posts as long as is appropriate for the material and the medium? For longer posts, consider writing an ebook, white paper, or a long blog post. Longer social posts are socially acceptable on Google+, but not as much on Tumblr or Facebook (Google+ tends to have a more intellectual crowd).

So is a ton of content good or bad? I’m confused.

Imagine if Google had the choice between serving up your 80-character post or your 10,000 word essay. Which one would it choose? The one that answers the question. Google wants to deliver the best results so that people keep using it and so they can keep selling ads. Aim to answer people’s questions (ie. add value) and it doesn’t matter how long your content is.

I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” ― Mark Twain

Neil Patel, a content marketing expert, recently wrote How Long Should Each Blog Post Be? In short, he found that the more established a brand is, the less they have to write. Conversely, the less established a brand, the more they have to write. This is how Nike can get away with short taglines in their advertisements, but newcomers have to use long sales letters to convince buyers.

One other aspect to consider is market sophistication levels. At sophistication level 1, no one knows what your product is or what it does. It’s totally unique and so it needs a lot more information written about it. At level 2 there are competitors so you’re only talking about what makes your product different. Each of the 5 levels states less and less about what the product actually does.

Content Length is Contextual

A good content marketer will take into account the medium he’s writing for, the target audience, and the market sophistication level of the product when determining how much content is too much content. Blanket statements like “there’s too much text” or “people don’t like to read” are simply not true without context. There is a time and place for all types of content length.