Instagram has extended the maximum length of videos that are uploaded for greater reach and engagement.
Does it mean that all the scare stories about our attention spans shrinking are just that - scare stories?
Yes and no.
There is no doubt that our attention spans are getting shorter. A report by Accenture in 2016 showed that 87% of consumers use a second screen device - mobile, tablet or laptop - while watching television.
The average attention span at the turn of the Millennium was 12 seconds.
The average attention span in 2015 was 8.25 seconds.
...to put that in context, the average attention span of a goldfish, that infamously inattentive creature, is 9 seconds.
“The scary part is that the attention span of a goldfish was 9 seconds, almost 13% more than us humans. That’s why it’s getting tougher by the day to get people to turn the page. Maybe we writers ought to try writing for goldfish instead!”
Here are some interesting stats for you if you have a web presence and have content you are keen to convey:
- On a webpage with 111 words or fewer, a visitor will read, on average, 54 of those words
- Whereas, on a webpage with 500+ words, a visitor will read only 140 of those words
Extra words do not equate to proportional extra time spent on your website by the user.
There is just so much content out there that our poor, frazzled senses are both overwhelmed and overloaded. Does that necessarily mean though that our brains are too busy greedily trying to consume as much of the oceans of content out there as possible and have stopped trying to seek out high quality information that is most interesting to us? Quite the contrary.
What it means is that today’s consumers have low boredom thresholds and are frighteningly discerning and sophisticated. It means, especially for marketing folk, and really for anyone with any kind of message they want to convey to a digital audience, that content needs to be creative, it needs to be compelling and it needs to be different in order to cut through and engage.
Back to video content
This brings us back to the newly extended video on Twitter and Instagram, and Twitter’s current push towards a separate video area on their app. Video is the perfect medium for the age because it makes it possible to communicate a good deal of content quickly, and with creative flair…It’s just that 30 seconds is probably a little too restrictive to the imagination.
Of course what we mean by video now is not at all the same thing as the high production value, dry, self-indulgent corporate video of old. Nowadays video can be quirky, fun and potentially quite low-fi. Journalistic, content-led video is just fine. The main point is that it be engaging.
Video is a creative, effective, highly democratic (anyone can be a broadcaster these days) way of communicating your message and building a brand and/or personality. It is one means of bridging the gap between quality and quantity - a gap that can often appear vast in the current content-crowded digital world.
As with all content you put out, with video you still need to be mindful of issues such as:
- Standing out from the crowd
- Keeping it fresh
- Making sure your key messages are front and centre
We would always argue for a mix of content, to keep short attention spans even more stimulated, but these days video has to be a central part of any marketing strategy. Aside from anything else, creating video content can be enormous fun!
Remember, your consumers probably don’t know that they want their lives changed by your products or services...but they almost certainly DO want to be informed, amused and entertained… Video just makes that process a little swifter and simpler.
This article has been updated, 2 years from it's original publish date, on 15th August to remove a reference to Vine. TikTok and Snapchat operate a similar space in the market and the article is still relevant today.