Hello? Is anybody out there? Just a sea of socially distanced people with their heads down looking at phones. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and others are all reporting increase usage of their platforms since the pandemic began. Some reported upwards of 30-40% increase. WOW! This may seem like a good thing for social media and marketing gurus. But are those millions of heads down even paying attention? Are we really able to focus on anything?
Literally, last night I sat on my phone for 2 hours reading news stories about the economy. Ask me to recall one article? I’ll save you the trouble. I can’t. I’m writing this and I cannot think of a single article’s content. But, I read them. I sat there, on my couch, like a bump on a log reading article after article. I lost attention, went into autopilot scrolling.
If I’m on one more webinar I’m going to throw my computer.
Last week I phoned a friend to do a quick check-in on how they are navigating this new world. She responded, “if I’m on one more webinar I’m going to throw my computer.” She went on to explain how she’s experiencing information overload. I asked what she was learning from all the webinars. She simply replied, “Nothing. I stopped paying attention.”
Everyone is Zooming, attending webinars, surfing the internet, and jumping on social media at record levels. The news is telling us that as a result, we are more informed, more connected, and more educated because of the increased usage. I’m not sure I’m buying what they are selling. Sure, I think some people are benefiting from more webinars, more Zoom calls, more social media. However, I also think – it’s just too much. Nobody is really paying attention. This leaves every organization fighting for attention, and we have less to give.
Our attention span as dropped to 8 seconds according to a Microsoft study
About five years ago, Microsoft commissioned a study to find out if our attention span is dropping. Shocker! It is. From the Time article, Researchers in Canada surveyed 2,000 participants and studied the brain activity of 112 others using electroencephalograms (EEGs). Microsoft found that since the year 2000 (or about when the mobile revolution began) the average attention span dropped from 12 seconds to eight seconds. This was five years ago! We may be down to 6 seconds by now!
Fighting For Attention
As consumers, we have a lot of options for consuming content. Videos. Podcasts. Email. Social Media. Newspapers. The list could go on and on. Inside of each one of those you have archives. 75 years ago, you received a daily newspaper and if you didn’t go to the library you didn’t have access to the archives. 50 years ago, if you missed your evening news on the television, there was no going back. You missed it.
Today, consumers can read, watch, or listen to today’s ad on today’s podcast or they can listen to an ad from 3 years ago while listening to an old podcast. No wonder we don’t pay attention. We have access to unlimited information and we have information coming at us every minute of every day.
Fighting for attention is real.
What’s the solution? More and more information being dumped into the proverbial content wood chipper to be spread among the media. I hope not.
In the war for consumers’ attention, what’s your strategy?
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