Long & Rich vs. Short & Basic

I’ve been having some trouble creating content.  I find that while I have things I’d like to share, I’m not always sure what format makes sense.  Video is amazingly rich, but it takes a lot of time and effort to put together.  A short few sentences of text are a lot easier to compose, but I wonder if they are too simple and can’t be very meaningful.

In trying to understand all my options I sketched out a bunch of different media types on different platforms, and thought about how someone might experience them.  Then I organized them into this little graph:

I thought about how I experienced each of these as the one consuming the media (the “consumer”).  They can be broken down into two basic measures;

  • Time to consume – how long it takes to digest what you’re looking at
  • Richness of the media – the breadth of the sensory experience

On the lower left area of the graph there’s a Tweet.   In its original 140 character a Tweet is super short and not particularly vivid.  On the far, upper right there’s a full length film, which is an immersive, multi-sensory experience.

This got me thinking about good ones and bad ones.  What makes a good podcast, a good Instagram post, or a good YouTube video?  What makes a bad one?  A good one grabs and holds the consumer’s interest while a bad one delivers no value.

I had an ah-ha moment looking at this and thinking about the risk for the consumer.  If it takes 30 seconds to read a tweet but it delivers no value, then at least they’re only out 30 seconds of their life.  Longer content means more risk.  If it content doesn’t deliver value, they are losing a larger chunk of time.

So as a content creator, it’s about finding the overlap between risk for yourself (how much time and effort it takes to produce something) and risk for whoever your audience is (what’s the chance they won’t get something out of it).  If you are building an audience and you don’t know them well, I think you have to focus on delivering lots of value in as short a timeframe as possible.  If you can do this in a rich medium, that’s great, but I think for the rookie creator the takeaway here is that shorter is better.