I recently read that the average human attention span in the 21st century has fallen to just eight seconds—shorter than that of a goldfish. (That’s probably the same or less than a gnat!) “What’s more, 59% of people share articles on Twitter without even reading them, and more than half of all page views are under a minute in length,” a recent Hubspot post tells us.
If you’re a content-creator like I am, those shorter-than-short attention spans mean we have to change our thinking about content accordingly. “No matter how old school you are when it comes to writing, it’s time to accept that short and relevant is often the new reality,” according to another recent post.
So, what do you do to keep their attention and engage your audience long enough to get them to react and take action? Here are a few strategies for confronting the attention span issues, without sacrificing quality content.
Capture their interest
Don’t be boring! Don’t write boring headlines! Don’t write boring meta descriptions! Don’t use SAT or doctoral thesis words when slang and colloquial, everyday language will help you make stronger connections with readers. Above all: don’t waste people’s time!
If what you’re creating is purely self-serving crap that has no hope of helping any reader anywhere with anything, STOP…and move in a different direction fast. This seems like a no-brainer, but organizations are wasting close to $400 billion per year in inefficiency and productivity loss. And, it could also be costing your organization if you’re generating bad, boring content that isn’t driving any results.
Here are a few ideas to help make content more interesting to your peeps:
- Validate your topics beforehand with a little industry and persona research.
- Ask your audience what they want to read about through social media polls and surveys.
- Conduct a competitor analysis to see what content drives engagement across a variety of channels.
- Repurpose your topics in different (more visual) media to appeal to a variety of people…try slide shows, data visualization, infographics, or videos.
- Keep the skimmers in mind. Use bullets, subheads, short paragraphs, and visuals.
Invest in thought leadership
Are there any topics that someone in your organization, such as a founder or executive, is uniquely qualified to write about? That’s thought leadership. Plus, there are a lot of small steps you can take to incorporate more thought leadership into your current content, including:
- Write a guest post on another organization’s blog. Check out this post for tips on how to become a guest writer.
- Publish long-form content (like a white paper) that contains original research.
- Speak at conferences in your industry.
- Interview an influential industry professional outside of your organization.
Create for mobile
The thing about mobile is that screen space is extremely limited, so not only do you have to design aesthetically pleasing and navigable pages for that environment, but you want nothing that wastes space. Please understand this doesn’t necessarily mean writing short articles, but instead writing concisely, interestingly, and on topic. Keep sentences tight and get rid of fillers. The Content Marketing Institute has a nice guide on writing content that engages mobile readers.
Publish on more than one channel
Deciding where to place your content can be challenging. Consider social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn…and industry-specific communities. By publishing your content on more than one platform, and optimizing your content for each of these platforms, you’ll be able to reach a wider audience and appeal to a range of attention spans.
When you need help to make your content efforts more impactful to even the most attention-disabled prospects and customers, the content marketing experts at Solamar have exactly what it takes. So, talk to us to create, engage, and compel them to become involved with your content.