Goldfish, stings & social media

8 seconds. That is the average length of a person’s attention span in 2018 - 8 seconds - meaning that human beings do now officially have a shorter attention span than that of goldfish!

This has come down from an only slightly more impressive 12 seconds back in 2000, a decline that is undoubtedly a result of the massive influx of technology into our everyday lives. The wealth and ease of access to information that smartphones and around clock, on-the-go internet access have provided us with, has in turn created a scarcity of attention.

All of us are now subject to a 24/7 barrage of information and advertising from online media outlets, marketing emails and social media updates, across a multitude of different channels, mediums and devices and it is only natural that we have had to adjust our search habits in order to cope with this bombardment. Our minds have been forced to evolve in order to more efficiently locate the content that we deem fit to allocate our increasingly precious time and attention to and the window for marketers to make their pitch has shrunken drastically as a result.

The diminished attention span of today’s consumer has therefore increased the demand for more concise and engaging content that is able to captivate this distracted audience and prevent them from scrolling on or switching screen to see what else is on offer. Nowhere is this more the case than on social media, which is fast becoming the most important arena for businesses to be engaging with their customers in. The share of marketing budgets spent on social media is expected to more than double over the next 5 years and if you’re not investing at least some, if not all of those additional resources into producing film content, then you’re missing a trick.

Film is without question the number one way to capture the attention of your audience on social media, with 100 million hours of film content now being watched on Facebook every single day. The newsfeed algorithms across all of the major platforms have all been seen to be placing an increasing emphasis on film content and new features such as view count and embedding options clearly demonstrate the level of attention that these platforms are paying to film. Film content has increased 360% across all user newsfeeds on Facebook and if you want to ensure that your business floats to the top of this rising sea of content and is more visible to your target audience, then there is one thing that you absolutely need to be utilising: social media stings.

The surge in popularity of these short, snappy visual marketing tools has been unprecedented and it is easy to see why given that films under 1 minute enjoy an 80% retention rate up to the 30 second mark, before experiencing a sharp drop off. The implementation of autoplay on most social media platforms and the fact that 85% films are played without sound have been huge factors in increasing the need for brands to be able to capture their viewers attention within the first few seconds of a film and decrease the likelihood of them merely scrolling on through their feed as soon as they lose interest.

A short 30, 15, or even 10 second sting is the perfect way to grab your viewers attention early and maintain it, whether it be a short product explainer, a brand overview or an event teaser. But just remember that effective content is not simply about shouting a message at your audience before their attention wanders, but about sparking a receptive signal that encourages them to not just pay attention, but to engage with your brand. Whether it be through triggering an emotional response or introducing a narrative hook, your sting needs to provide the viewer with something genuinely rewarding in return for their attention which if successful, will markedly increase the likelihood of them taking the time to see what else your business has to offer them. For the more selective consumers are with their attention, the more receptive they will be to the content that they find valuable and a social media sting should thus be seen as the ice breaker to what is hopefully a long and mutually beneficial dialogue between company and customer.

The 8-second attention span need not therefore be seen as an insurmountable obstruction to customer engagement, but instead as an opportunity for businesses to revaluate what is important for them to communicate with their audience and how best to do so in a manner that is genuinely beneficial for them. Social media stings should be your first order of play in a social strategy that is geared towards getting eyeballs on your brand and people talking about you, rather than continuing to pump out tedious, long-winded content that could barely keep a goldfish’s attention, let alone a 21st century consumer’s.

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