If we were to look at content trends on social media for this past year, or speculations toward next year, video and photography would undoubtedly rank at the top. So too would certain platforms themselves: Snapchat, in particular. But not text. No, the written word probably wouldn't even make it onto the list.

But the written word is not as elderly as it's made out to be. We praise the rise of video, but do you know what sorts of videos are most popular right now? Do you pay attention to the videos that pop up in your Facebook newsfeed? They have text on them. All of them. You can watch them in silence, even. The story is still being written, it's just being delivered in smaller bites with moving pictures in the background.

The written word and the story, yes, the story still rules all.

This is something that so many people forget--and even condemn. They praise short Instagram captions like, "Beach day with my besties." They put far more emphasis on the photo or video itself, instead of the story it is telling.

The video or the photo might be what grabs the person's attention. But it's the story that keeps them coming back.

If you want to be a more effective social media marketer, you should spend less time wondering what platform is most popular at the moment and more time refining your story. What do you really want to say? Who do you really want to attract? How can you tell it in a way that keeps them coming back again and again--and, how can you use text as a way to communicate that.

This is something I actually tested with Instagram, starting back in 2013. Everyone said that short captions performed better on Instagram. I did the opposite. Many of my posts I treated as micro-blogs, pairing each photo with an extended description. After a while, I learned that people were actually far more interested in reading what I was writing than even looking at the photos I was posting. The narrative, the story is what kept them engaged. The photos were just there to grab their attention.

Since then, I have continued to test and reach the same conclusion: Stories and in-depth descriptions are what keep people engaged. Your photo needs a narrative. Your video needs a narrative. How it is delivered is ultimately up to you, but do not forget your voice along the way. Your voice is not where the content is being placed. It is what the content is ultimately saying to the viewer.

I can't tell you how many times I hear the words, "Nobody wants to read."

That's simply not true.

Next time you watch a video in your Facebook feed, pay attention to how much you're reading after all.

Published on: Sep 20, 2016
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