As you work on your content strategy, think about this: According to a recent study, the average person now loses concentration after only eight seconds. I would ask you to pause and think about that but then I’ll risk of losing the remaining seconds of your attention entirely – if I haven’t already. As a “fun fact,” researchers noted that even goldfish which are “notoriously ill-focused” have an average attention span of nine seconds.
So, whether that fact is fun or concerning is still be determined, but it really isn’t that shocking. This study simply quantifies the impact of a highly digitized lifestyle on the human brain. After all, we live in a world where our phones are constantly buzzing with emails, texts, news alerts, and social media notifications. We live in a world where…
Sorry, I got distracted for a moment. Did you know that Kim and Kanye are expecting their third child via surrogate? My phone just vibrated with that “breaking” news, as well as four work emails, three personal emails, and two trivial text messages. And even if celebrity gossip isn’t your guilty pleasure, you’re likely experiencing a similar scenario every hour of every day.
But to be clear, the aha moment from this study is not that goldfish are smarter than us. It’s an aha moment for us as marketing and public relations professionals. The study has profound implications for those of us who communicate for a living. To be successful, we must adapt our strategies and tactics to the reality of eight second attention spans.
Why evolving content doesn’t mean dumbing it down
In today’s world of digital and information overload, crafting content that is relevant and meaningful for your target audience is mission-critical. Remember that having shorter attention spans doesn’t mean that your customers are not decision-makers. It doesn’t mean that they’re less intelligent. It doesn’t mean that they don’t have the same pain points. It just means that they need to absorb information differently. It just means that despite downloading your white paper, they’re probably not getting past page one. There’s no shame. It’s the new normal.
That’s why evolving your content marketing is not about dumbing down the information. It’s not about simplifying or going back to basics. It’s about making your content snackable. In fact, your new bite-sized content can still convey the same concepts and ideas as the longer pieces—but that content must be more concise and free of fluff.
Even more importantly, it must provide just a taste to satisfy their brief hunger and keep their interest. It must leave the audience wanting more of your content snacks. That’s what marketing is all about.
How to create tasty content snacks – a recipe for success
Snackable content for the eight second attention span is just a new way of creating, organizing, and promoting content. To create tasty content snacks, you don’t need to start from scratch. You don’t need all new ingredients. Your content kitchen is likely full of big, heavy content meals which can be remixed and reused to fit the new snackable content mold. The good news is that one content meal equals several content snacks.
Now, let’s enter the content kitchen and see how to turn those content meals into content snacks. Here are three examples:
- Transform your white paper into an infographic and a cheat sheet with must-do’s.
- Transform your case study into a checklist of best practices, or a series of checklists that span everything from implementation to training and optimization.
- Transform your 30-minute webinar into a sequence of 30 second videos that highlight that key learning objectives.
And rather than being sad about the lost of art of white paper reading, keep in mind that multiple content snacks derived from the same content meal not only convey the same messages but also can easily become a lead nurturing campaign or useful follow-up references for your sales team to share with prospects.
I think it’s time to stop mourning the white paper. Instead, it’s time to cook up some bite-sized content. After all, it’s just waiting to be eaten.