“Smart brands don’t use their ads to interrupt the conversation. They become the conversation” – Barney Worfolk-Smith

What do goldfish and humans have in common? According to research, a lot more than you might think. The famed study from Microsoft Corp. revealed that humans generally lose concentration after just eight seconds. That’s one second shorter than goldfish, which have an attention span of nine seconds. In the world-shattering study, researchers in Canada surveyed 2,000 participants, finding that from 2000 to 2013, human attention span went from 12 to 8 seconds. Considering that the year 2000 marked the beginning of the ‘mobile revolution’ many have attributed this decline to our digital lifestyles. “Heavy multi-screeners find it difficult to filter out irrelevant stimuli — they’re more easily distracted by multiple streams of media,” the report reveals.

The Silver Lining

From a marketing point of view, this revelation can be quite telling. In our hyper fast-paced world of endless content, how do I make my brand stand out? How do I capture attention long enough to even get my message across? The bad news is, the advent of social media has negatively impacted our attention span. It has left us overwhelmed, bombarded with information, forcing us to adapt, to consume quickly, and to multitask efficiently. The good news? Digital platforms have created a wealth of opportunities to enhance interactivity and brand creativity. We will inevitably evolve to accommodate the changes present in our culture and structural framework.  

Keeping it Short and Sweet

As a brand today, it is survival of the fittest, and the key to survival is often quite simple. It’s understanding your audience. One general truth about the human audience is clearly that people do not have the patience to read through a great deal of content. This can help to streamline content and get your message across more quickly.

Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

A good rule of thumb is “the rule of seven.” According to the Public Relations and media software company, Cision, people need to see your message at least seven times in order to pay attention. Be it text, a photo, or a video, you’d be surprised how effective it is to repurpose pieces of content in different ways. Think of the last time you took a look at a pair of shoes and ended up seeing that same pair of shoes in an ad everywhere you looked online. Surely, those red pumps were kept at the top of your mind.

Leveraging Video

When it comes to engagement, video can certainly be a great medium to choose. Just after Google, YouTube is actually the second most popular website out there. Would you be surprised to learn that a whopping 72% of customers would prefer to learn about a product or service via video platforms?  Or that the average viewer retains 95% of a message through video, compared to just 10% through text? What about the fact that one minute of video content is equivalent to 1.8 million words? The challenge then becomes making each second count.

Storytelling in Two Minutes or Less

Considering that you have about eight seconds to capture attention, you’d better get creative! According to modern research, two minutes is the sweet spot for videos today. After two minutes, there is a significant drop off in engagement. This can mean several positive things for your business. For one, it means making your brand marketable. After all, who wants to put the effort into a fifteen-minute video if nobody will end up watching it?

Quality Over Quantity

It also means that brands can conserve their resources and leverage cost-effective tools (even Instagram) to promote their products and services. Most importantly, it means that brands can focus on quality above all else. Quality, rather than quantity, is paramount in our digital age. While businesses can create a long drawn out video, they can also begin to invest in shorter videos that maximize both quality and reach. The digital media may be killing our attention span, but it is our job to make viewers notice. And with the right story, they might just be hooked.