Social media is an ever-evolving life force. Yes, it has become a life force of its own. It’s constantly changing, reflecting the dynamic need of the people using it. That is why, it is unavoidable that some things become obsolete.
A valid case in point? Plain text.
In the social media community, it is a known and basic principle that plain text will never be enough to cut it. Sure, it was one of the basic foundations of what is now known as social media but it isn’t enough. Here’s why:
Attention spans are getting shorter by the years
We are all developing shorter attention spans. We judge landing pages for 3 seconds and we decide whether it deserves further attention or not. Listicles has become an established format for content making because it saves people time. They want the essential juice. Over time, people care less and less about the 80%, they want the 20% core. Twitter has become such a hit with its requirement to convey a killer message within 140 characters. Words aren’t obsolete but they just aren’t enough.
With shorter attention spans, people are looking for so much more.
Productivity is the name of the game
Why read through a lengthy article about a research topic when you can watch a YouTube video about it and take half the time? Why download an ebook of a bestselling piece when you can download an audiobook and listen to it on transit? People have become more empowered to do more at any given time and that’s what they will do exactly. People look for the instant, the convenient, whatever could save them more time. A lengthy piece where you use words alone is not the perfect companion to that.
With the amount of resources given to us at a tap or a click, information is doubled by the second. Overload is no longer a shock, burnout has become a common issue to be addressed. People want to be wowed. While words can still do that, other platforms certainly take on a different approach—a more dynamic approach. Videos can wow better, sound effects intensify an experience, GIFs make it more hilarious, images prove a point. You’re more likely to click a link when it’s paired with a visual cue. You’re more likely to believe an argument when you perceive it through sound or sight. Plain text simply comes off as lazy or too formal—something that people on social media rarely look for.
Plain text on social media no longer works simply because there are a lot more elements which we know are available to us. HTML colors and text formatting used to aid us in making a point and unleashing creativity but as of this very second, we have images, videos, animations, GIFs, scripts, pop-ups, dynamic elements at our disposal. We are no longer limited to <b>, <i>, or whatnot. We have links, embedd-able codes, and dancing Elmos at the click of a button. Plain text, you will always need, but it’s not everything there is anymore.