the thinker thinks your content should be thoughtful

There’s no such thing as a stupid questions, only stupid answers. And any answer to this question other than a resounding “no” is probably going to be one of them.

Faced with pressure to generate pageviews, content managers have gotten into the habit of being a mile wide and an inch deep in their coverage. Trading depth for breadth and playing to the lowest common cultural denominator. We have to, right? Because today’s content consumer is pressed for time and brain cells and will probably only scan your headline and your bolded keyphrases before they will largely blindly like, Tweet or pin your just-another-post-in-the-sea content.

Except that that’s not true. Despite what people might say, society is not getting dumber, we’re getting smarter. We want better information faster.

And when it comes to content, there is no such thing as “too smart.” In an effort to engage as many readers as possible, content managers have gotten into the habit of doing what is easy to generate more visits. Being smart isn’t easy. It takes work and time—two things that today’s culture doesn’t exactly encourage.

So maybe the better question is: Does informed and intellectual content still carry as much weight in today’s marketplace of attention?

The answer should be a resounding yes. You should be rolling your eyes as you ready this.

So how do you be a smarty-pants without turning off your audience? Believe it or not, there are ways to be both smart and successful while developing online content. Here are four things to keep in mind when you bring the brainpower in your next offering:

Don’t Dumb Anything Down

A content creator’s mission should be to raise the most common intellectual denominator not sacrifice everything in order to meet it.

Use big words. Make people look up words they don’t know. There is nothing more satisfying then coming across an unknown, taking a moment to look it up, and then say to yourself, “Oh cool, I know that now.” And with smart phones and easy Internet access, the excuses for not doing so are lamer than they have ever been.

Be Shakespearian in your prose. Make the reader work a little bit to get something out of your content. They were smart enough to click the link, so don’t disappoint them into thinking it was just an empty, manufactured headline instead of a post with something genuine to say.

Write Your Heart Out. And Do so at Great Length.

One of the biggest pet peeves of mine is to hear people say, “Oh, that post you sent me was too long, so I didn’t read it.”

Seriously?

I’m actually glad you didn’t get anything out of it because you just proved you didn’t deserve it in the first place.

Long form has a place in our content experience, even in the online world. It serves as a collective deep breath and our wide-angle lens. Some ideas take longer than a Kardashian marriage to articulate, so don’t throw them away and blame it on your short attention span and jammed Outlook calendar. It’s lazy and dangerous for our development as a civilization and we have too much of both in this world already.

If you want to break up your idea into multiple posts, fine. But don’t sacrifice giving it your intellectual all because some Internet peon with an itchy mouse finger wants to click through to the next pop culture apocalypse. Plus, smart readers will set aside your blog for later use and give it the time it deserves instead of dismissing it out of hand.

More thoughts and words, please.

Write About Strange Topics in a Smart Way

You don’t need to write about existentialism or particle string theory to prove your smarts.

People love them some weird. The Huffington Post has an entire page dedicated to weird news.

However, for the love of all that is content holy, don’t crap out three sentences on some cat that has a cult of people believing it is the next coming of Jesus to drive traffic to your website.

Call people. Get reactions. Tie it to your business in some way. People don’t want to read something cool, they also want to know WHY they are reading the 500-600 words you slapped them in the face with.

Smart writing is a drug; get people hooked. Give them all the intelligence you have to make sure they keep coming back.

The Smarter the Content, the More Engaged Your Commenters Will Be

I admit there is nothing wrong with short and sweet. However, there still has to be enough substance in a short post in order for your readers to respond to it with more than just, “That’s nice.”

It takes a lot of someone to get up the nerve to respond to something they’ve read online. I’m a confident guy, and I still feel awkward doing it. However, really smart and insightful online content can give someone an intellectual burning desire to comment.

Recently, I read a blog post on The Atlantic’s website about today’s Internet users that was artfully written and chock-full of smart commentary. I didn’t comment on the post itself, but the author ignited something in me that turned into 900 words on why we need new rules for language and grammar.

Smart content begets more smart content. Online content is this generation’s cave drawings, so let’s make sure we leave an impression worth remembering.