Forget Video; Here's Why Text Is Still King of the Web

Steve Rubel on Digital Communications

By Published on .

Über-blogger and videographer Robert Scoble has a problem.

He produces terrific videos on technology companies for So what's Scoble's dilemma? Well, the videos rarely generate a lot of conversation or links from influencers. However, when he surrounds them with text, it's a different story.

Despite all the hype around online video, text remains the current and future king of the web. Why? There are at least five reasons:

Steve Rubel
Photo: JC Bourcart
Steve Rubel is a marketing strategist and blogger. He is senior VP in Edelman's Me2Revolution practice.
According to Jakob Nielsen, users have time to read 28%, at most, of a site's words during an average visit. 20 percent is a more likely number; text is far more scan-friendly.

For all that Google has done to elevate video, search results are still largely made up of text -- and everyone wants better SEO.

It's much easier for cube workers to read text online and get away with it vs. watching long videos. Watching vids (even work related) screams "slacker."

Yes, of course you can put a video on a mobile phone. But it's work and requires planning. Text is easier to pull up in a nanosecond.

Nothing flies like text. It's easy to cut and paste and send it somewhere, or to clip and re-syndicate it via e-mail, RSS or social networks.

If you think about it, much of what we consume and share online still remains text-based. Twitter, for example, is all text. Facebook is a mix, but certainly has a ton of text. Even what makes YouTube hot is the metadata and commentary around the videos. So I don't see any big threat to King Text.

What does this mean for marketers? For starters, if you're creating video, you better pay attention to the text you put around it. Without text, you're dead. You won't be found. Further, if you want to influence, you must have a command of the English language and know how to write for the web in sound bites -- food for thought for the next time you face the urge to rush to video.

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