Swimming Against the Current: How to Combat Short Attention Spans | ODEA

Swimming Against the Current: How to Combat Short Attention Spans

For years, goldfish have helplessly endured ridicule for their minuscule attention spans, which supposedly average about nine seconds. Meanwhile, reputable companies like Time Magazine and The New York Times have been delivering a hard blow to humans, warning that the attention span of adults has decreased to a meager eight seconds! Yes, you read that right. These companies are saying that a human’s attention span is shorter than that of a goldfish.

Or is it? Here at ODEA, we believe in BOLD marketing, but comparing the attention span of goldfish and humans is a little too common for our taste. And frankly, it seems a little fishy. So we decided to investigate.

Gone in eight seconds or total load of carp?

Still with us? (Just kidding.) When we decided to research a bit farther into this stat, one big question came to mind. How would one even measure the attention span of a goldfish?! Part of being an ODEA-ite is being curious, so we did some digging. Almost every article we read included a picture of a goldfish and the same Microsoft Statistic (yawn). But there was very little data backing up these claims. Dr. Gemma Briggs, a Psychology lecturer at the Open University in England, said the idea of average attention spans is meaningless because humans and goldfish apply different levels of attention to varying tasks. In other words, are we really comparing apples to apples? Or are we comparing apples to fish?

Sink or swim

Despite a lack of concrete data on humans versus fish, experts certainly agree that the human attention span has become more difficult to capture. Why? Some point the finger at the internet, saying its complexity is to blame for our roaming attention spans. The large volume of media available simply makes it harder for us to digest and retain information. With colorful pop-up ads conquering our computer screens, sneaky remarketing tactics that coerce you into buying a pair (or four) of new shoes, and endless streaming options, it’s no wonder we can’t focus! But even if human attention spans don’t compare with those of goldfish, marketers still have the difficult tasks of obtaining and maintaining your attention.

Regardless if we humans fall short of our finned friends when it comes to concentration, we all know it’s sink or swim in the marketing pool. Here are a few suggestions to help you successfully grab (and hold) the attention of your audience:

  1. Finders keepers

Where does your audience spend their time? Wherever it is, find them there. You may need to ramp up your social media, meet face-to-face or set up a live chat. Knowing what communication method(s) attract and retain your target audience’s attention is the only way you’ll have a shot at catching and keeping them.

  1. Don’t be a ramblin’ man

While we still have you: most readers don’t have all day to sit around reading a lengthy article. (Though there are moments when readers crave heftier content pieces, but that’s a conversation for another time!) Get to the point and say “nope” to filler information that isn’t relevant or that may cause confusion. TLDR: don’t ramble.

  1. No bait and switch

With already short attention spans, the last thing potential readers want is to click on an article titled with all the right words only to find all the wrong information. Tricking readers with click bait to gain more web traffic is not only frustrating to your audience, but Google won’t reward you for it! Stick to what you are writing about. It will pay off in the end.

But how do you write the perfect attention-grabbing headline? Utilize SEO, synonym generators, and your team to fish out the winning title. Generating a creative and truthful headline will ensure that your audience takes the bait!

So the next time someone compares your attention span to a goldfish, be sure to send them our way! And if you happen to have a tip on how to grab the attention of your audience, you know we want to hear about it.