You have probably heard the term ‘call to action’ before when researching effective messaging. But...
Communication in the Age of Shortened Attention Spans
At any given moment, people are connected to the Internet, social media and their cell phones. This on-the-go society has greatly impacted our ability to complete a very simple task: pay attention.
It's no secret: we're living in the digital age.
According to a Microsoft Corp. study, the average person now loses concentration after eight seconds—one second shorter than a gold fish.
Prior to 2000—the year that's considered the start of the mobile age—our attention span was 12 seconds. What accounts for this four-second deficit in our mental capacity? The easy answer: technology, social media and a drastic transformation in our culture.
Children now operate cell phones as well as they do building blocks; teenagers haven’t lived without mobile devices or social media; adults are constantly confronting the need to adapt to the technological way of the future.
Mobile devices allow everyone to stay connected, even as we travel from location to location. This has an obvious benefit to the world of communications. After all, more screen time means more opportunity to grab someone’s attention.
However, the question remains: how do we attract and retain an audience's attention?
Solving the Problem of Lost Focus
We so often click from article to article, reading headlines and brief summaries rather than getting the full picture. No one cares enough to read a full article or delve into long paragraphs.
Headlines have replaced articles, video clips have replaced full-length videos and social media has replaced human interaction.
This begs the question: How do you cope with losing one-fourth of your opportunity to catch a customer's attention?
Again, here's the easy answer: Play to what made your audience lose their attention span in the first place.
The world of communications and media has changed by necessity and is now tailoring itself to the shorter attention spans of the modern working individual. A perfect example of this lies in the blog you are currently reading. Look up. Do you see long, essay-like paragraphs? Or do you see short, two or three-sentence snippets?
Your answer proves the point that we no longer possess the basic ability to maintain interest. Communicators have adapted and developed methods of reaching the public, despite their increasingly short attention spans.
Headlines now accomplish one of two goals:
- First: Present the most important pieces of information in a five to seven word headline.
- Second: Give only a snippet of the information, so that the reader is forced to read more. The strategy you choose to utilize depends on the sensitivity of the information and your overall goal for distributing it.
If you want to inform the most people as possible in the shortest amount of time, then the first method applies to you. If you want a moderate amount of people completely informed on the details of the article, then the second method applies.
Generating Easy-to-read Content
Communicators have also adapted to create faster, more easily processed content. The easier it is to the read, the more likely a short attention spanned consumer is to take the time to read it.
The process of creating catchy and slightly hyperbolized titles is a common technique to entice readers and make them actually stop whatever they were previously doing—if even for a moment.
Our shortened attention spans have, in a sense, started an information warfare in which businesses, politicians and public figures battle over the consumer. Not only are these efforts an effect of shortened attention spans, but they are also one of the key causes.
Ask yourself: How has this shift affected you?
Are you a business owner who is struggling to reach or maintain clients with short attention spans?
Or are you a politician who needs to gain some name recognition in an upcoming election?
Regardless, we have a solution for you. The Impact Group can meet all of your marketing, public relations and communication needs. We specialize in captivating your intended audience using a combination of new and old techniques. Contact us today to learn more about our attention-grabbing strategies!