I am in a room speaking to a group of 5o executives and I ask the question, “What do you do with e-mail newsletters and other types of e-mail communications?” The answer is almost unanimous, “We quickly scan the information and make a decision after looking at two components. First, is it relevant to me based on what I have quickly read. Second, does it look like something I could read in the next couple of minutes or is it a longer read?” These are two critical questions all of us need to be constantly aware of if we want to actually reach our audience with our content.
The second answer is the topic of another post. I want to address the first component here and give everyone a new benchmark for how they should be writing, messaging, and communicating with social media. The executive audience (and other research) tells me they give something between 7 and 12 seconds of time to make a decision – do I read now, do I delete, or do I read later (usually means being deleted later without reading). That’s it!!
There is so much demand on everyone’s time these days, people, especially executives, don’t have time to waste. We have all gotten pretty good at “scan reading” with our eyes to pick up the jist of what it is we are reading. It the title and key parts of the information grab our attention, we might choose to continue reading and see what it is. If it is not, we hit the delete key.
Think about this in terms of your own messaging. Are you sending out long e-mails, newsletters, articles, etc. that require your audience to spend a great deal of time to read them? Do you send out cryptic messages that you think are clever and it requires the audience to read well down into the content to get the message? Do you still write with many paragraphs in these different forms of media? If you do, I can assure you it isn’t getting read and in most cases, will be either immediately deleted or put in a “to be deleted later” folder, often called, “To be read later”.
Rethink your messaging with this in mind and you will see significantly more people reading and getting what you are saying. It is amazing how this can change the percentage of reads from your audience and you will get kudos for not wasting their time and giving them good information in a short, direct manner. This is where social media lives and if you want something to spread virally, it will happen with a much higher success rate if you keep this 7 to 12 second rule in mind.