Let’s face it—if you’re someone who uses the Internet on a daily basis, you have probably at some point in your life diagnosed yourself with ADD. I mean, how could you not? There’s just so much out there to explore! Pictures of grumpy little kittens? Yes, please. Constant updates on my friends’ social lives? Of course. The latest coverage of Washington’s vote on Internet sales tax? Send it my way.
It’s all there, and we embrace it with open arms. But as the 24-hour news cycle constantly throws content in our faces, it seems like it’s almost inevitable that we eventually short-circuit. As marketers who are part of the force releasing content into the wilderness of the public, trying to figure out how to gain an audience and retain them can be daunting.
Let’s take a look at some interesting tidbits regarding our average attention span:
- Back in 2000, the average attention span was 12 seconds.
- In 2012, the average attention span went down to 8 seconds.
- The average attention span for a goldfish is 9 seconds.
Given the facts and the current reign of the Internet, it’s almost not surprising that our attention span is worse than a goldfish. In our increasingly fast-paced world, we want quick updates, and a lot of them. And marketers today are learning the hard way just how difficult it is to capture and retain anyone’s attention.
If we take a glance at Internet browsing stats, we also find that people in general don’t spend much time on a single web page—only four percent of page views lasted more than 10 minutes.
Additionally, the less content you have on a page, the more people will actually read. On a web page with 111 words or less, only half of the content was actually read. And on a page that contained around 600 words—which is the average length of a web page—a little less than one third of it was read.
So what gives?
People want content that is brief, informative, and maybe tells a story with pictures (a la Buzzfeed). If a short burst of content is what they want, then give it to them. Even Coca-Cola is giving it a try.
Look at the shareability of articles from Buzzfeed—most of which are purely GIF or photo-based with a little text sprinkled in here and there. A picture’s worth a thousand words, and it only takes a second to understand its meaning.
Stay away from lengthy videos (unless you’re a TV show), because not many people want to view those either— an online video is watched for an average of only 2.7 minutes.
If you’re trying to stand out in social media feeds, try luring your audience with tweets that they’ll need to click through to get more information.
And finally, be reliable and credible. If you push forward informative news the public can trust, they’ll look to you for more—even if they don’t spend a ton of time on your site.