When writing stories for digital newspapers, it’s still easy to default to the standard techniques such as the 5 Ws + 1H or the good old, dependable Inverted Pyramid. Sometimes, having these crux of news in mind makes a news article longer as you want to cover all angles of the story as much as possible. But, there’s hardly time for that on tablets and smartphones. Mobile users are hurried and often upperwardly, making direct story telling the only option to engage them.
Mobile audiences consume news differently than desktop and newspaper readers. They typically won’t read big blocks of copy, especially Millennials — they want to get in and out and move on to the next story or site. Think of writing for mobile newspapers as a more strict inverted pyramid — always assume that the reading might be cut off at any point due to time limitations.
Here are Peter Marsh‘s tips on writing news content for this always-on-the-go audience segment.
- Provide maximum information with minimum words.
Make every word count. Cut out the fluff and get to the point. Use short, tight sentences, and remove every superfluous word.
- Create attention-grabbing titles.
As noted above, mobile audiences are mainly on-the-go audiences. You only have a second or two to catch their interest on these little screens. So, your headlines should be as tight and efficient as your text.Keep your titles brief, relevant, and descriptive. Avoid jargon. And, aim for a length of 65-70 characters max to avoid truncation.At the same time, be sensitive to your in-depth mobile news readers, who don’t want to be baited into clicking on a headline that’s misleading or irrelevant.
- Focus on strong introductions and compelling summaries.
Mobile audiences have no time for introductions that dance around a topic. So, just get to it.Don’t worry about “setting the stage” in your introduction. You’ve created an attention-grabbing title, now craft a punchy and engaging summary that compels the reader forward.
- Use the medium to benefit your message.
Some mobile devices – especially newer smartphones and tablets – are optimised for images. Take advantage of these visual capabilities by using graphics and images to complement your writing.One recent study on Twitter found that tweets with visuals received more than 150 more retweets than those without visuals. Similarly, posts on StumbleUpon that included visuals got dramatically more shares than text-only posts.
- Lists and links are the lifelines of an effective mobile story.
Mobile readers love lists. Ordered or unordered lists; it doesn’t matter. Lists are succinct and easy to read.They clearly show the reader where one point ends and another begins. This makes lists ideal for scanning or browsing.Many people scan before they read anyway, and this is especially true among mobile users, who quickly try to determine whether it’s worth reading the entire article.Recent surveys have also shown that mobile users are inherently suspicious readers. They will question an author’s credibility if any embedded links do not relate to the topic. So, make sure that any and all links are highly relevant, and that they actually work.
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