How Long Does Your Content Last Online? [Data]

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It’s fair to say we’re not all good listeners. In fact, the average attention span today is only 8 seconds, down from 12 seconds in 2000. Marketers see this as a challenge to overcome, but few professionals have mastered the art of capturing their audience’s attention and retaining it through content creation. It’s not easy, and fragmented messaging and compulsive exposure to media continues to contribute to a shorter attention span.

Click to learn how leading businesses reach and engage their audiences with quality, custom content.

Information on the lifespan of digital content

As it becomes harder to reach the right people online, most brands recognize the need for more content, but few analyze the value of their content over time. Data-driven marketers see opportunities to maximize engagement and increase efficiencies by calculating the lifespan of each piece of content produced for the web.

Original content can only remain relevant and interesting for so long. Even evergreen content reaches a point where its context becomes stale and tired. What was new and innovative last year is old news now. It’s important to develop a content marketing strategy and editorial calendar that’s built around the average lifespan of various content types, filling in the gaps that appear over time. This blog will analyze the half-life and average sharing peaks of content across social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, as well as the shelf life of videos and custom content.

Well-Written Articles Live a Long Time on the Web

Written content has become the lifeblood of innovative marketing. Enterprise-level brands have adopted content creation as a way to engage their audiences across the Internet, but still too many struggle to produce enough media to retain customers’ attention. A Skyword report shows that 53 percent of brands produce 10 or fewer pieces of content assets a month, but 44 percent would like to ramp up their efforts to publish between 11 and 50 resources each month.

For marketing teams unable to produce a piece of content for each day of the month, preliminary data suggests a single article can engage audiences for a long time compared to other types of marketing collateral. In an interview with Fast Company, Nate Weiner, CEO of content app Pocket, gives an example of a 2000-word blog having a shelf life of up to 37 days. This long-form article may have been one of the few pieces of content produced by the publisher over the course of a month, but its 16,000 Likes, 2,000+ Tweets, and nearly 400 +1s prove it produced returns that far exceeded the upfront investment. “Engagement around articles is heavily weighted [toward] longer form and higher quality content,” Weiner said.

Know When to Talk on Today’s Popular Social Media Networks

Social media content sharing moves quickly, as users publish updates to keep their personal networks informed. For brands attempting to reach new and existing customers across sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest, timing counts. In looking at various reports, a high percentage of engagement on social content takes place within hours of publication and tapers off shortly after. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Twitter content has a half-life of 2.8 hours [via Bitly].
  • Facebook posts receive 75 percent of total engagement within five hours [via Wisemetrics].
  • Pinterest Pins acquire 40 percent of total clicks within the first day of publication, and 70 percent by the end of day two [via Piqora].

Marketers can plan content sharing around these data points, using consumers’ average attention span as a catalyst for advancing social media content marketing strategies. Information grows old and tired on social media. Keep accounts fresh to retain an active online audience.

The Longevity of Video Proves Worthwhile, But Comes at a Price

The always-on consumer has thrown a wrench in brands’ marketing plans. Big advertisers are confused about how to reach web users, and old-school marketers have yet to become great storytellers. Those who do understand content marketing have rushed to embrace other types of media, including video.

While video may not be an effective content type for every brand, especially those with tight budgets, it’s important to know how long a single clip can engage an online audience. According to Unruly Media, video content can accumulate shares well past three months after publication.

Data shows that a video will receive 10 percent of total shares within two days, 50 percent of shares within the first three weeks, and 66 percent in the first three months. The remaining 34 percent is ongoing as more web users discover the video in search, on social, and via email.

The Winning Campaign Mixes in All Three Content Types

A quick glimpse at this blog may compel marketers to invest in video over any other content type simply for its lifespan. However, I wouldn’t advise choosing one over another. You need all three to establish a holistic web presence that serves all of your customers’ needs. Without well-written articles, you lack the ability to share custom content that catches fire across social media. More, search engines struggle to crawl video content, making it harder for prospects in the discovery phase to find your visual media in search. Produce SEO content to amplify your video content, and allow viewers to easily and quickly sharing your clips across social media.

It’s not one or the other in content marketing. You need a well-balanced mix of tools to succeed. Skyword’s Content Marketing Ecosystem SkyScape can guide you toward top-tier services to help you round out your content campaigns for 2014 and beyond.

Ted Karczewski is the Marketing Content Specialist at Skyword and the Brand Editor of the Content Standard. He focuses on activating and engaging Skyword's online audience through consistent brand messaging across channels. Currently, Ted is invested in exploring the impact influencer marketing and native ads have on content strategy performance. Follow him on Twitter

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