My mother asked me a thing the other day, and she asked: "Is written content dying, or is there still a future for it?". I will not reveal what I answered, but my answer involved time and changes.
How many written articles did you read this week? How does that compare with all other forms of content you've consumed this week, such as videos, podcasts, and social media conversations you've been a part of?
If you've found yourself shifting toward other forms of content consumption and away from written content, this isn't a reflection on you. Instead, you are a byproduct of a long trend that entirely spells the doom of written content.
You're reading a written article right now, but it is also available with voice.
The problems with written content
Let's talk about some of our problems with written content and why it's in such decline.
The most significant problem has to be oversaturation. Some decades ago, clever web admins realised that written content was the best way to stimulate search engine algorithms positively.
The content-type also loaded fastest on the Internet, which was extremely slow and unreliable. So it was just a matter of time before this trend cemented itself into the era of content prioritisation.
These days, every business owner and individual with a blog spends at least some time writing and publishing new content regularly. And with so much written content flooding online, it's hard to find new topics that people want to consume or topics that stand out in the content flow.
We must acknowledge the mobile devices' role in the lifespan of written content. With a laptop or a desktop, it's pretty easy to scroll down an article and read all the words on the page. But with a smartphone or a tablet, videos and other forms of content are easier to consume. As a result, mobile web traffic now represents the vast majority of all web traffic.
Even a fast reader, you process visual information much faster than the written word. So, would you get all your information by watching a 30-second video or reading a 1,000-word article that takes several minutes to complete? Writing isn't the most concise way to convey information anymore.
Competitors to written content
The need for content will never evaporate; that's why the biggest threat to written content isn't the absence of content, only better forms of content, such as:
Video content is powerful. It's easy to access, fast, and easy to process by all audiences.
By 2024, there will be +160 million regular podcast listeners only in the US, and that number will probably grow. The authenticity and credibility of your podcast host and the ease of multitasking while listening support the podcast's continued growth.
Many content creators do more in mixed media, combining writing, audio, and video into singular, comprehensive pieces.
The strengths of written content
We need to acknowledge the remaining strengths of written content, e.g.:
Written content still has tremendous advantages for search engines, allowing you to optimise for specific keywords and phrases.
Written content gives you more flexibility to customise headings, lists, fonts, and tags. In addition, better-structured written content can make it trivially easy to follow the overall structure.
You can reference written content more efficiently than video content, and t's also easier to access.
Making the most of written content
If written content still makes up most of your online content approach, don't worry. Many tactics can help you maximise the usage of written content and keep it alive in this era.
Aim for originality
Restating old thoughts is no longer enough to be successful. Instead, if you want hope of making your written content perform, you must aim and strive for originality and come up with unique topics and subjects.
Polish and refine your written content.
Quality beats quantity with written content. So it helps if you spend time polishing and refining every article you create. Fact check, revise sections to be more organised and work on every detail to minimise your errors and mistakes.
The advantages of written content
There are things that writing does well that other mediums can't quite get right. For example, the permanence of words on the page and the power of eloquent prose currently can't be replicated by short videos or podcast conversations.
Dabble in other mediums
If you can't beat them, join them. Don't be afraid to make other mediums an essential part of your overall content approach.
Overall, written content remains a vital element of any content approach and plan.
However, you can't ignore its weaknesses or pretend that written content is as powerful as it used to be. So, if you desire your written content to continue to perform, you need to prioritise the quality.
Founder, CEO & Strategist since 2001. Anders provides thoughts and reflections about what and how to think about onlinification and digitalisation in B2B. Asks a lot of questions, and knows what to do with the answers.