grey concrete bridge on body of water under blue and white sky during daytime

Is Short Form Content What We Want?

The stats on my personal blog show that the most viewed posts are my weekly ones where I publish photos that I took during the week with a quote. The themes vary based on activities – vacation, the puppy, my kids, hiking but they generally are the fruits of enjoying life. These posts are short and sweet.

But the stats also show that my longer form posts (500 word-ish) that I publish three times a week get the most comments. Those posts are most story-telling with a little philosophizing thrown in. Generally, they are about how to get my head and heart aligned so that I can enjoy the life captured in those photos.

I’ve read and heard a lot of people discussing whether our attention spans are shrinking – whether we only want to click “like” and we don’t want to be forced to think.

Here’s my take on it – albeit it is only anecdotal with a splash of data thrown in for the appearance of something scientific. I think we’re here to connect. To the degree that a pretty photo is nice, great. But we’re hungry, to some degree, for the insights that leave us thinking about our own lives and growth. And those insights sometime can be garnered in one line, but most make us work for them.

The photo posts are like candy – sweet and easy to consume. The story-telling posts are like protein – they require a little chewing to take them in, but they stay with us for a while.

Who doesn’t like pictures of sunrises, puppies and kids? But as writers, we know we have to dig deep to share something meaningful. The bridge between us is built on words. It may be long or short, and not everyone will want to cross, but we have to make it substantial enough to bear weight so that people can get to the other side.

I’ve published a companion post on my personal blog about learning through story-telling: The Power of Stories

I also post on Mondays at the Heart of the Matter blog, a great shared blog of personal storytelling. My book about my journey to find what fueled my dad’s indelible spark and twinkle can be found on Amazon: Finding My Father’s Faith.

You can find me on Instagram and Twitter @wynneleon

(featured photo from Pexels)

56 thoughts on “Is Short Form Content What We Want?

  1. Fantastic insights, Wynne! Your analogy of photo posts as ‘candy’ and storytelling as ‘protein’ is on point. I’ve also noticed that our appetite for content varies based on our mood and context. Sometimes, a quick ‘like’ on a beautiful photo offers an instant gratification, while in-depth stories provide nourishment for the soul. Thanks for sharing .

  2. It is time consuming to write a blog. It is equally time consuming to read and write a thoughtful response. I do wonder how exceptionally prolific bloggers find time to do all—read, write, comment. How do you manage it all, Wynne—single-parenting, puppy raising, blogging, faithfully commenting, podcasting, maintaining a household and a career to support all of the above? You remind me of the old adage, “If you want to get something done, ask a busy person to do it.” While I would love to carve out time to read and comment on every blog by those I admire, sometimes just reading has to suffice. And sometimes blogs slip by without being read at all. I also wonder how and why my retired life keeps me too busy to read and write. Maybe it’s too many naps. Whatever. I enjoy short, sweet, and pithy. Which this response isn’t!

    PS: A little NOTE To all of my favorite bloggers out there, thank you for your wonderful messages, and please forgive me for my occasional lack of comment. Phew! I’ve been wanting to say that for a long time. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to do that, Wynne!

    Thank you all for every gem of wisdom, every thoughtful comment, and for the love that oozes through your work and words.

    1. Oh Julia, I love your beautiful, love-filled response. I’m learning this too, “sometimes just reading has to suffice. And sometimes blogs slip by without being read at all.”

      Yep, just like a newspaper or magazine, sometimes it doesn’t get read and we need to move on. But I treasure the wonderful friendships that blogging has created – like with you, dear Julia. What a gift!!

  3. Wynne, I always enjoy your stories about your family. They are not too long. <3

    I do not read very many posts that are longer than that. It is already impossible to read and comment on all of the posts in my emails that I would like to read and still find time to write. A very slow computer connection and being a two-finger typist does not help the situation.

    I have heard it said, "I have never been busier than since I retired!" That may be true, but I also think it is true that "work expands to fill time!"

    1. Oh, such a wonderful perspective, Cheryl. But I’m most amazed to find out you are a two-finger typist. Amazing that you write such beautiful content with only two fingers!! Maybe that’s part of the trick – it slows you down so only the most amazing stuff comes out??

  4. And this is why I love reading what you write…long or short…with or without fab photos. Regarding your appraisal about what readers are interested in, you wrote …”anecdotal with a splash of data thrown in for the appearance of something scientific”. Ah yes…one of those wonderful Wynne lines. Love it. 💕

  5. I think you are right about looking for relatable insight and a degree of social connection, Wynne. First person accounts. Where I think blogs may fall short is where one looks exclusively for insight in the blogging world, setting aside the great books of the great writers present and past, whether fiction, philosophy, or history; as well as substituting the internet for living to the fullest beyond the world of reading and writing.

  6. I need both. Some days are just mindless and short, sweet and picture-y is enough. When I started writing blogs though it was to tell a story and the bonus became the connection with others and their lives. The posts that make me feel at my best, the ones that create the most connection are the ones that have conversations that go on and on with that lovely back and forth dialogue among both the writer but also among the readers. I want everyone involved in the conversation, sharing ideas, being open even when we all don’t agree, and most of all challenging me to think in different ways.

    1. I like how you bring in the comments as part of the format – that’s so true that that’s where the “conversation” happens. And then in that case, maybe the post becomes the back drop for setting up that dialogue. And yes, what I’m hungry for changes by day – totally agree, Deb!

  7. The difference for me (in whether I’ll read a longer post or not) is in the author’s ability to capture my interest from the start. I usually visit blogs first thing int he morning, and my still sleepy mind cannot be forced into paying attention, lol

  8. Good food for thought! For me, my preference depends on the day, what I have time for, what mood I’m in, etc…

  9. “we’re hungry, to some degree, for the insights that leave us thinking about our own lives and growth. And those insights sometime can be garnered in one line, but most make us work for them.” Eleventy billion percent! So beautifully, perfectly, and succinctly put.

  10. Great questions Wynne. You’ve summed up the mission for many of us. “I think we’re here to connect.” The introvert in me says “no way, you’re crazy,” but I think that’s exactly why I’m here, to write what’s inside my soul and to share with others. I’m not sure what to say about your hits. I know I’ve liked your photos for the sweet reminders they’ve given that life is short and to be grateful for my kids and our memories. But then I’ve liked the focus and perspective that you offer in your longer posts. I have to work more for it — because it’s content I have to read — but it touches me and makes me think. I’m not sure as a reader that I want to choose: I want both. Ha, ha.

  11. Interesting question Wynne. When a post is too long (over 5 minutes reading), the author loses me and I start to read transversally. It doesn’t depend on the content, whether it’s catchy or not. It’s because when it gets too long I’d rather read a book. With photos is easier to look at all of them in shorter time. Though the photos shall be beautiful or funny or also in thi😄.

    1. Ah, what an interesting comment that there’s a threshold after which you’d prefer a book. I can see how that’d apply to photos as well. I think that often when a post is too long (or there are too many pictures), the focus of the post is lost. Thank you for the thoughtful comment!

  12. I enjoy both kinds of posts, Wynne. Your weekly photos posts are always so darn cute…and Mini Cooper definitely upped the cuteness factor. But, I also enjoy your insightful longer posts because they give me something to think about.

    I agree that we’re here for connection and I think both kinds of posts can serve that purpose. I do my best to read posts by my favourite bloggers (you’re on that list). And I usually try to leave thoughtful comments, but when life gets busy and I don’t have time to type a comment, I often just give a post a quick “like”.

    1. Ha, ha – you’re right about Mini Cooper adding that zing of cuteness. 🙂

      But I love your astute observation that both types of posts serve connection. I too do my best to read posts from my favorite bloggers (and you’re on my list) but at times have to let it go as well!!

  13. Wynne, I agree. What’s better than real connection? It outlasts our energy. When my head is on overload (like now, after a writing retreat) I can’t scroll through with random “likes”.) I do fear I’ll fall short or sometimes even disappear because it’s all moving so fast. But what I have found is that the real connections doclast. We pick up like good old friends we haven’t seen in a a while, right where we left of. That’s what I invest in. And the reward is immeasurable. Thanks for being one of those for me.

    1. Oh Deb, I love knowing you are on a writing retreat. That’s wonderful. And your comment about real connections lasting. That is true. I’ve been reading your book about your dad – that is such a nice additional dimension to add! Enjoy your retreat!!

  14. My adhd brain looks for intensity. I find that far more often in words than photos. From that aspect, I prefer protein to candy. I also tend to have a short attention span, so the photos posts are like a welcomed respite from having to remain focused and engaged.

    But yeah, my short quippy posts tend to get way more views than the longer, deeper ones. Some of that, in my case, might be the subject matter. I’m not too concerned about it, but I do notice.

    1. Ah, I love hearing your perspective of how it works for your brain and from your experience. It makes me wonder how your brain gleans intensity – is it topic or the author’s ability to dig deep or something else?

      1. Now you’re making me think about thinking…🤪

        It can be topic, but definitely has to do with story, and depth of story. Heartbreak may grab me faster than fun, as I “trust” it more… but any good story will grab and keep my attention. And “good” definitely has to do with development, cohesiveness, and yeah…depth.

  15. I like what you said about looking for connection and insights… that’s been my experience of reading other people’s blogs to get to know fellow creatives out there. It’s wonderful to make those connections on here.

  16. You always make me think Wynne 😊
    For me it’s all about time available and concentration levels. As you say it’s easy to post a like and I do enjoy photo’s and short posts. But when I engage in a lengthy, more meaningful post I usually want to leave a comment. Sometimes, I end up questioning the length of time I’ve been on WordPress. I must be slowing down as being retired I’m nowhere as busy as you. How do you manage it? Great that you do though 🙏🏼

    1. Thank you, Margaret. I like what you say about wanting to comment if I’ve read a longer piece – me too! I find the time I spend on WordPress well spent but you’re right, it’s a lot. My secret is that I gave up tv to make time. 🙂 Thanks for the thoughtful comment, as always!

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