Why snackable content should be every copywriter’s goal

I have a 3-year-old niece. Her name is Penelope. I can get her attention and keep it for about 10 seconds before she goes back to climbing coffee tables, throwing food instead of eating it, and watching Teletubbies.

She wants me to be the red Teletubbie for Halloween. The red one is named Po. She is going to be the green Teletubbie, named Dipsy.

Hey, I’ll do anything to make her happy. I’ll also do anything to get a bag full of Kit Kats and Snickers and 3 Musketeers. All that candy has no price I will not pay.

Not to worry though, the gym and I will have our moment after Halloween. Dr. Alexander, too. We will have our moment to address the health issues that come with eating pounds of sugar and handfuls of chocolate.

What is snackable content?

Snackable content is short and direct content that says more with less, quickly engaging your audience. Snackable content makes life easier for your audience. They don’t have to work hard to understand your message.

The world is now a digital dump of chaos and snackable content makes it less dumpy.

Snackable content is good, because our attention spans are not.

My 3-year old niece probably has a longer attention span than the folks “reading” your content

Somebody did a study — I found it on Hubspot and MarketingProfs, so I know it’s legit — that showed humans have an attention span of 8.25 seconds when surfing the web on their phone or computer or whatever they use to access Al Gore’s internet.

That is a shorter attention span than a goldfish — and probably shorter than little Penelope’s, even when she is dressed as Dipsy the green Teletubbie.

A typical person who has their phone with them at all times — uploading pics of their food to Instagram and stalking people on Facebook — picks it up more than 1500 times a week.

People have a lot to look at. You and me — we are in a daily state of content shock. Our decision to pay attention to anything happens in about a fraction of the time it takes me to decide to eat that 10th Kit Kat out of the pillowcase that I loaded with the finest delicacies the western world has to offer.

I decide quickly — I do not hesitate with those crisp wafers.

People will listen to you if they can understand your message quickly and easily

You see, that same study found that folks will swing by your webpage and stay for around 20 seconds. With that quick of a visit, they don’t read much of your content — and honestly, they don’t have the time. People only read about 20% of the content on any web page and usually scroll quickly through the first page of your blog, stop, and leave.

It’s your job to make it easy and quick.

Be honest, direct, up-front. And fun.

Cut the jargon. Dump useless words

Ask yourself, “What am I trying to say?”

Then write some stuff you want to say.

Then ask yourself, “Did I say it?”

Just keep doing that.

In William Zinsser’s book On Writing Well, he does a great job summing up the failure of writing clear English sentences. Here are two quotes from his book:

“Our national tendency is to inflate and thereby sound important.” To sum this up, we mostly write for ourselves, filling our content with jargon and every fact possible because we want to look cool and smart. This is not good, and doesn’t produce snackable content — or anything that anyone will want to read.

“The sentence is too simple — something must be wrong with it.” This is what writers, content creators, whoever is writing this stuff often think when their writing is short, direct, to the point.

“But the voice and tone will disappear,” screams the writer.

“Nah, you’re good,” says the reasonable human.

Here is an example:

Short, snackable content is best.

That’s a good sentence. But, to impress our peers, we want to write this:

Compose prose taking up minimal space in the psyche of your target audience in their exact stage of the buyer’s journey to captivate them through story that speaks to their emotions in a way that allows then to understand your content in their busy world.

Yes, that’s what humans that write words do sometimes.

“Simplify, simplify.” Thoreau said.

Will Strunk wrote, “Omit Needless Words.”

To close Zinsser’s thoughts, I will paraphrase — Strip every sentence down to its essentials. Your writing will improve when you keep things out of it that shouldn’t be there.

Short. Direct. Snackable.

Your voice and tone will remain. These things come organically in the writing process.

The best writing constraint is a word count

Write your blog post, or your ad copy, or your web copy. Then cut it in half.

Zinsser basically said that most drafts can be cut by 50% and still provide your reader with the same value while maintaining your voice and tone.

Your brand voice will stay and your content will be readable — finding a place in the daily volcanic eruption of information that your audience deals with every day.

This is the best thing you can do for your reader.

Thanks for reading. I don’t have anything else to say, except that this post probably isn’t snackable.

Writing is hard. I’ll go eat Kit Kats now. Those chocolatey, crisp wafers are snackable.