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Why Text Remains King of the Web

By Steve Rubel

My friend Robert Scoble has a problem.
He produces terrific videos on technology companies for Fast Company.
They’re a little long sometimes, but they’re almost always interesting.

So
what’s Scoble’s problem? Well a lot. The videos don’t generate a lot of
in-bound links from bloggers, conversations on Twitter or
mentions on aggregators like Techmeme. “None of my 1,000+ videos has
ever made it to Techmeme,” Scoble said

He’s right. A quick analysis reveals some get no links, others get a couple. However, when he surrounds them with text, it’s a different story. Why? Text! It provides context and I suspect for many it’s a proxy for the video.

I
am starting to believe that despite all the hype around online video,
text remains King of the Web. Why text? There are at least five
reasons…
  • It’s scannable – according to Jakob Nielsen users have time to read at most 28% of the words during an average site visit and 20% is more likely
  • Three letters: SEO – For all that Google Universal Search has done to elevate video, search results are still largely made up of text and everyone wants better SEO
  • The workplace – It’s much easier for cube-based workers to read
    text on the screen and get away with it vs. watching long videos.
    Watching videos (even work related vids) screams “slacker”  
  • Mobile Devices – Yes, of course you can put a video on an iPhone.
    But it’s work and requires planning. Text is easier to pull up in a
    nanosecond  
  • Distribution – Nothing flies like text. It’s so easy to cut and
    paste it and send it somewhere or to clip and re-syndicate it via
    email, RSS or social networks

I don’t know about you but I love text. Now I have always been a reader. Today I am a scanner. So for me it comes natural.

Still,
think about just how much of what you consume and share online remains
text-based. Twitter – it’s all text. Friendfeed – mostly text, but
augmented by images. Facebook – a mix but certainly a ton of text. Even
what makes YouTube hot is the metadata and commentary around the vids.
So I don’t see any big threat to King Text. 

So
what does this mean? Well, if you’re creating video you better pay
attention to the text you put around it. Without text, you’re dead. You
won’t be found. Further, if you want to influence you must have a
command of the English language and know how to write for the web in
sound bites. More on that in a subsequent post. I believe marketers and
PR pros are well positioned to succeed.

http://www.micropersuasion.com/2009/01/why-text-remains-king-of-the-web.html