Well, it must be, right? Because Seth Godin says so.
I don’t want to beat on Seth Godin here. (Well, not too much, anyway.) I’ve read a few of the glorified PowerPoint presentations that Seth Godin publishes as books. They contain a few worthwhile nuggets. The guy has been saying stuff about marketing for 20 years now. It can’t all be wrong. But let’s not forget that Seth Godin mostly markets himself.
The obsession with audio/video
And of course, Seth Godin isn’t alone in his obsession with noise, and his relative disdain for text. Many of the marketing gurus are telling us that in this short-attention span, post-literate world, you have to hit them with some form of electronic noise. No one has the time for text anymore! If you must use text, make it an emoji! That’s the way Gen Z does things, after all!
(Twenty years ago, these same gurus were telling us to ape the Millennials, until the Millennials lost their luster.)
Text or voice/video? It depends on what you’re selling, and whom you’re selling it to, of course… If you want to demonstrate the performance of a new sports car, then video is perfect for that. Likewise, a vacation spot. No one can describe the beauty of Hawaii like an image or a video can show them.
But there are many marketing situations in which the current obsession with yammering in people’s ears, or bombarding them with video, can be counterproductive. If I’m going to invest in a stock, for example, I’d rather read a prospectus. If I want to learn about the causes of World War II, I much prefer a well-written text to a YouTube video, or even a podcast.
I do listen to podcasts, because they’re a handy way to consume certain kinds of information when reading is impractical (such as when I’m driving a car).
But if I need to absorb something complicated, I prefer text.
Text also permits us to skim, and easily backtrack–something that is much more difficult with audio and video.
I still read print magazines, too–and I’m not the only one– because they provide a depth of information that you simply can’t get from a 5-minute YouTube video, or even a 1-hour podcast.
Audio and video can be annoying.
While we’re on the subject of print versus audio/video: I know you’ve had this experience: You navigate to a website that you’ve found in a search result, and the website contains one of those autoplaying videos that immediately starts talking at you. Shut the #$@! up! you shout, and hit the mute button on your computer.
But what do the gurus preach? More audio! More video!
Text: more “high-tech” than talking
There is nothing wrong with podcasting. (There is nothing wrong with video, either.) There is something wrong with the sudden trendiness of declaring text obsolete, as if forgetting how to organize one’s thoughts into text somehow represented an advancement.
Remember that verbal communication is nothing new. On the contrary, it is the oldest, most primitive form. People have been yammering at each other, and yammering before crowds of others, since the invention of language.
Written language (text) developed because it allowed more complex ideas to be expressed in more systematic ways. If we must be trendy here, then it is text that is more “high-tech”. We should not be too eager to let text go, in the pursuit of more primitive noise.