Posted On: October 10, 2016
Many of you have lost your appreciation for text.
The hot social media is all image-based. Snapchat, YouTube, Instagram, Vine… the list goes on. Everyone talks about how great something looks, but rarely how well it reads.
Heck, I’m a writer working for a company called Future Design Group.
But here’s the thing: text hasn’t gone away, and it’s still vitally important. All of those girls are still writing things like “OMG my BFF and I went to this hot new brunch spot, and it’s literally to DIE for!” underneath their Instagram pictures. Future Design Group’s website, while visually stunning, is still full of text to tell you about the services we offer, the clients we’ve helped, and the awards we’ve won.
Here are a few reasons text is still a vital part of any communication strategy.
Information is easier to find in text
According to Reuters Institute’s 2016 Digital News Report, 78% of respondents who took part in research rely on text more than video news. When pressed, the main reasons people give for not using more video is they find reading news quicker and more convenient (41%).
When I’m visiting a website, I’m usually there for a specific set of information. I can quickly scan an article of text to find what I need — or see that the site doesn’t have what I need — and move on with my day. If it’s good information, I’ll bookmark that site and make it my first stop when I need to learn more.
With video or audio, the only way to find out if it’s even worth my time is to sit through the entire post, at a speed slower than I can read, trying not to zone out while I wait for the information I need. I can’t skim the subheadings or scan for the information I need and skip the irrelevant parts.
Text brings clarity to your ideas
A picture may be worth 1,000 words, but are they the right words?
Their openness to interpretation makes visuals a double-edged sword. Without accompanying words, it’s far too easy for your audience to imprint their own ideas on an image and completely misunderstand the idea you’re trying to convey.
Text allows you to communicate precisely what you mean to say with no ambiguity, which is why so many photographs are posted with captions to explain them. Your audience needs to know what you’re trying to say.
Video and audio also allow you to communicate using precise words, but someone had to write those words. Text also allows your audience to consider and review those words until they’re certain they understand your ideas, which is harder to do with video or audio.
Without text, there is no SEO
As a business owner, the biggest reason you need text is for the SEO benefits.
Put simply, search engines can understand and interpret text. They don’t have eyes to view your images and videos or ears to hear your audio. You search using text.
The keywords that search engines use to pull up relevant results? Text.
Images, audio, and video are useful; good visuals and audio will benefit your SEO strategies. But first, they need text in ALT tags for web crawlers to even find that useful content.
Here’s a quote from Google’s webmaster guidelines:
“Try to use text instead of images to display important names, content, or links. The Google crawler doesn’t recognize text contained in images. If you must use images for textual content, consider using the ALT attribute to include a few words of descriptive text.”
A major factor in SEO is also time spent on the page and proponents of audio and video will point out those content types force your audience to stay on your page for the length of the track or video. This is a fair point, but it fails to take into account the people who will leave your page and never come back if you make them sit through content they neither want nor need.
Not that other types of content aren’t important. Images, video, and audio each accomplish things that text can’t.
Telling you I’m wearing blue jeans and a checkered blue and white button-up shirt while listening to movie soundtracks and writing these words is not the same as a picture of me in this outfit, a recording of The Imperial March, or a video of me writing with the music playing in the background.
But declaring text dead would be a grave mistake. Even if we accept, for the sake of argument, that visuals are the future, text is the present and is not going away soon.
About the Author
Dustin has provided writing, editing, marketing, public relations, client/customer support, and project management services for companies across a wide spectrum of industries. Brands with which he’s worked most recently include Real Estate Mavericks, Scarlet Pearl Casino, Lazy Magnolia Brewery, and I Am Alpha M.