Are people losing patience with lists and slideshows? Issuu CEO Joe Hyrkin thinks so, in a piece he wrote for Re/Code. Hyrkin notes that this sort of quick-bite short-form content has exploded on the Internet in recent years, because people like lists and they’re so easy to advertise on. But there are strong indications that people are lose interest in this sort of content and are turning to longer-form articles instead.
Hyrkin adds that another interesting thing about the Internet is that it makes it easier for people with niche hobbies or interests to get together. He uses the craft beer movement, Etsy, and TED as examples of formerly niche interests that have lately gotten bigger as more people discover them.
What do these two things have in common? Millennials.
Millennials are driving this shift, because this generation places a premium on individuality, passion and creativity. Self-learning and hobbies are important to them, and they seek out activities that they feel are meaningful. Their interests (and knowledge about those interests) are an important part of their identity, as are the things they consume, whether it be a news article about privacy or a cup of single-origin pour-over coffee.
Hence, publications should see about reaching out to and engaging these young power readers with longer content.
Of course, like many pieces on Re/Code, this serves as a sort of backdoor advertisement for Joe Hyrkin’s business, Issuu, a digital magazine rack. When your business involves publishing magazines that focus on longer-form content themselves, naturally you’re going to find reasons to push that form over the shorter form endemic to the Internet. Are people really getting tired of short-form content, or is he just looking for reasons to think so because his business depends on it?
Still, he makes some interesting points. You can click through listicles all day and not do much of anything except waste time looking at pictures of cats, but longer-form content does give you more to think about. And I wouldn’t have thought of connecting that to the increased interest in once-niche hobbies.
It’s also worth noting that millennials are strong users of technology, like smartphones and tablets. Perhaps this interest in long-form content could extend to e-books?