Lecturer’s top tips on what NOT to do when blogging and how to read

Andras Kenez, Lecturer at Staffordshire business school


This is the most important rule of content marketing for bloggers: use data to understand your readers.

The data-driven content marketing is a way of continuously measuring the user data to develop the content.

Here is an interesting fact I found whilst researching different target groups and reading about different segments of the society, trying to understand how they react to content:

We can’t read anymore.

Mankind has lost the ability to work with complex texts. It is not just Generation Z – it is all of us. We are not able to read texts as we have before. We live in a faster world where information is unlimited.

The bottom line is we do not have time for reading. Our brain and reading habits are adapted to this environment. We can see the world through videos and images, we have experts and politicians to explain us what we see, there is no need for reading anymore. Even the interfaces are different: it is not the same to read on screen than on paper.

  • Almost 50% of the people have limited reading skills. They know the alphabet and have the basic reading and writing skills, but they might have problems with understanding texts beyond a basic, simplest level. They do have problems with reading long emails, articles, blogs. One of three of your colleagues are functionally illiterate, no matter where you are: schools, universities, newsrooms are no exceptions. Look around, if you don’t know who it is, it’s you.
  • Skimming is the new reading. Based on online analytics, we spend less than a minute to read articles and blogs online: we get the keywords and the most significant points (those with bold font or the first few words after the bullet points) quickly, without processing the information. Skimming and scanning are effective techniques to get a general overview immediately. Why bother with the details? Therefore, I can write whatever I want here: no one will read this part. I could even call the editors idiots: even they won’t read (and delete) this. Students use skimming and scanning methods to speed up assignment writing, bloggers use this to save time on research. The problem is: we never go the next step (deep reading) after getting the point.
  • Reading is not critical anymore. Readers are not able to manage conflicting information. As the neuroscientist, Maryann Wolf writes: “My research depicts how the present reading brain enables the development of some of our most important intellectual and affective processes: internalized knowledge, analogical reasoning, and inference; perspective-taking and empathy; critical analysis and the generation of insight.” (Such a long sentence!) Serious (deep) reading is paying attention, working with the content, thinking, and using your brain. Reading requires time.
  • We have no dedicated time for reading. Reading articles and blogs: we do it in our fragmented time (these are the small breaks, in-between moments). During the day, when there is some free time to read: at lunch, on the train, during lectures, in waiting rooms, in bed before sleep. We do not dedicate time for reading, we try to find time for it. Digital devices make it possible to read anytime and anywhere. This is an and endless opportunity and a total game changer.

During the time of the Brexit debate, it is extremely interesting to see this “development” of reading. Propaganda also understands this: telling a lot of contrasting information makes us vulnerable as we have lost our ability to critically evaluate.

To build a new argument here I tried to reread the Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Purpose – but I Kant, it is TL;DR (too long, didn’t read). I used to like it, but now it is too difficult to read. By the way TL;DR: we do not even write sentences anymore. Shortening, abbreviation and simplifications everywhere. Not just ideas but words are too long as well. But TBH, TLA (especially in CTA) is bad for UX and CTR. KISS.

In my last piece here, I have argued to be sceptic with the information you see, now I advise you to read. Spend time deep reading. Reading is like language skills: if you don’t use it you’ll forget it. PRACTISE DEEP READING each and every week.

And if you write a blog, do not forget that you’re writing for people with reading difficulties. Readers like to skim, not chew.

 

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