Attention…think about that concept for just a second; we’re not making any more of it.
There are still only 24 hours in a day, and of that, we’re only awake for a certain number of hours, typically between 9-14 hours. During that time we have things to do besides social media: work, family, eating, etc.
No matter how much content is produced, there is a threshold for consumption of that content that is relatively constant. Yet, as marketers, we often make the mistake of ignoring that reality.
Do I have your attention?
It’s interesting to note that even the BEST content will rarely hold attention permanently.
- I love to read Seth Godin’s blog, it’s remarkable, yet I only read it on occasion.
- I’ve been talking for years about going on the Ted Diet, where I watch one TedTalk per day. The talks are fascinating and I feel like I get smarter with each presentation, yet I rarely sit down to watch a video.
- I find Copyblogger to be one of the most valuable sites on the web, yet I probably only read 1 out of every 8-10 articles.
- Social Triggers is EPIC, there’s no other way to say it. It’s full of practical, usable advice. I’m lucky if I catch even half of the content on the site.
- Mitch Joel’s Six Pixels of Separation Podcast is extraordinary, I’ve yet to hear a bad or even mediocre episode, yet I only catch a show every other week.
So if the BEST content, that is extremely professionally relevant, can only infrequently hold my attention, what chance does mediocre, or even slightly above average content have?
And what does attention at this point in human history even look like? We live in a 140 character, meme-filled world, where 24 hours news networks, real time communications and the 2nd screen has put everyone into a frantic exercise trying to drink from the firehose.
Most content is lucky to get 30-seconds of attention, is there such a thing as “captivated” anymore?
A Growing Attention Deficit Problem
We work extremely hard on this blog, we put out a ton of content across all of our channels, and for all of that work, we see a modest return. However, we’ve been doing this for some time now and we’re fairly accustomed to the process at this point, so we’re in this for the long haul…plus we like doing it.
But for companies just starting to create content, the lack of sufficient attention is a huge obstacle.
- It can inhibit leadership buy-in as early efforts are often ignored.
- It can demotivate the content team, as they wonder whether or not it’s worth the effort.
- It can detract from other, more (immediately) profitable ideas.
As more information floods the web, as more people participate, as networks get larger, as newsfeeds become more chaotic and scattered, brands are going to have more trouble earning people’s attention, and then keeping it. This is why engagement is such a battleground right now, because engagement represents not only attention, but the additional effort of interaction.
What’s the answer?
The truth is, I don’t have an answer, I only have more questions. The only thing I can be sure of is that trust is a vital component. One thing that is constant across all of the content I revisit, albeit infrequently sometimes, is that each has earned my trust.
The most interesting part of the shifts brought on by social media, is that companies must think long term about the relationship with the audience. The openness of the web will force companies to operate with integrity, and create shared value in order to earn and keep the audience’s attention. And all of this long term thinking and planning must take place while simultaneously acknowledging the ever shortening attention spans.
One more thing…
If you don’t mind telling us, why do you read this blog? How did we earn your attention?