Image: Goldfish to illustrate content marketing short attention span

In 2000, the average attention span of a human was 12 seconds. Now it’s 8. The attention span of a goldfish is 9 seconds.*

This statistic means that companies have 8 seconds, max, to capture the attention of their ideal customer. A mere 8 seconds to convey a message that grabs the viewer…and tells a story captivating enough to engage that viewer and be memorable. Short-form content is one option.

Companies use content marketing — telling their brand stories — to build credibility and trust in their business. They want to underscore their “go-to” expert status. By providing helpful, useful, relevant information to potential customers, companies strengthen their brand and accelerate the relationship-building necessary to generate leads.

Bottom line: they want more business.

But content marketers only have 8 seconds…and a lot of competition. More than ever, viewers are faced with communication overload. The amount of information — from print, online and in-person messages that confront each of us everyday is overwhelming. Studies have shown each person is exposed to in excess of 5,000 advertising messages each day.

Content marketers compete in a forum of information overload; topics must resonate, headlines need to grab, visuals need to communicate and content must be spot-on — delivering an attention-getting piece of information that is timely, relevant, easily digestible…something that makes the viewer stop and take notice. And hopefully share. The creator or publisher of that remarkable content enhances his or her reputation as someone who is “in the know” and therefore, worth listening to.

Here are recent online content trends that recognize the importance of quick communication and utilize short-form content:

  • Apps like Instagram, Twitter, Vine and Snapchat that distribute micro-content
  • Visuals including photos, illustrations, charts and infographics that convey information at-a-glance
  • Facebook and Twitter ads that encourage advertisers to keep messages short (Facebook recommends 90 characters or fewer and all tweets, promoted or otherwise are 140 characters)
  • Short informational videos like those on Gloopt
  • Micro-content in the form of social media updates delivering links, images and news
  • Content curation — sharing content created by others

An added wrinkle to consuming this vast amount of information is the fact that more and more of us are viewing it on small screen smartphones, the preferred mode to access the internet, but not conducive to reading lengthy entries:

91% of adults own cellphones and over 60% of those access the internet — to check email, access websites and read content.**

Long-form content should still be part of any content marketing strategy — a lengthier post, article or video allows the creator to delve deeper into an issue, provide supporting evidence for various theories or ideas, detailed “how-to” explanations and to substantiate opinions. Long-form content is an important contributor to successful Search Engine Optimization. However, long-form content creation takes time. Undertaking the research, creation, publication and promotion of high-quality content on a consistent basis can be daunting — especially for small- to mid-sized businesses that may not have a dedicated content marketing staff.

Short-form content is an alternative for content marketers and audiences alike: the brand retains visibility, creation time is cut and attention-deficit issues are satisfied!

(Sources: *statistic brain, **Pew Research)