Conventional wisdom holds that the explosion of online content, 140-character Twitter posts, and mobile devices have conspired to shorten the average user’s attention span. As a result, the best way to communicate your ideas is to go short and sweet, favor headlines and bullet points, and incorporate charts and photos whenever possible. The sound-bite culture dominates the digital world.
So how to balance providing interesting content to the reader without posting a novella or manifesto?
There’s no shortage of voices weighing in on the optimal length for a blog post (see here, here, and here for some good insight). The authors all seem to be getting at the same point: when you understand your target audience and write something that people want to read, length isn’t that important. I agree with this approach, but it assumes a couple of things:
First, that most writers are aware of the tipping point between just right and too much. Anyone who has been cornered by someone at a party and forced to listen to a long, rambling story can vouch for the fact that many people assume their passion is shared equally by others.
Second, that most writers have already performed the exercise of defining their audience and are acutely aware of what matters to them.
When I worked at Chicago 2016, one of my colleagues was the great bid strategist George Hirthler. He has contributed his considerable talents to more than ten different bids (winning three in the process), and he’s a master of understanding how to reach his audience. George’s advice: make the message about them, not about you.
So when you’re writing your next blog post, put yourself in the reader’s shoes and ask, “How much would my target audience care about this topic?” If you can answer that realistically, you’re headed in the right direction.