It’s strange how certain trends/pet peeves/viral content starts to slap you in the face repeatedly before you acknowledge it’s impact on the industry and common practices. This past week has been a reawakening for me about the topic of the Audience Attention Span on Social Media.
So what am I talking about?
The fact that I refuse to watch a YouTube (or any other form of online) video that’s longer than 3 minutes. The knowledge that as Social Media and our access to information gets easier, our tolerance for information and content which we have to work for shortens. It’s also the idea that unless we
1. Heavily incentivize or
2. Rethink how and what we approach consumers with
we could very well alienate our audience and eventually, lose them.
Today our project manager was looking for a how-to video for our new office tea-brewer and was significantly annoyed that all the videos were over 20 minutes long and it sparked this defining conflict in my mind. I believe that there are subtle differences in the definitions of online content which boil down to how much time, effort and money it costs the consumer. For example, the word “tutorial” implies an in depth and therefore longer video or piece of content, whereas when a user is looking for “how-to”, they’re looking for a short, easy to digest piece of content to help them quickly overcome their obstacle. If a piece of content is wrongly titled (like a 30 minute long how-to), consumers won’t just look elsewhere, but become actively negative towards your channel and your brand- for wasting their time, their data and their effort.
Some time back I ran a simple giveaway on a client’s page, but I warned client that forcing fans off Facebook and onto a tab (which even though it’s been defined as being native, really isn’t at all) would shoot our entries and overall success of the campaign down. This proved to be true, but obviously the reason why consumers didn’t want to leave Facebook wasn’t because our entry mechanic wasn’t ‘native’. From a consumer standpoint, what we were giving away just wasn’t worth the time and effort to waste less than a minute for. If however we asked fans to comment on the post, the uptake would be substantially better because the effort and time to do so had been sliced in half.
My point is this. We keep falling into the same trap of assuming that once we nail content on a platform that it will remain that way, forgetting that Social Media is human, fluid and it’s state of flux is dictated by the users and their preferences- not our shitty Traditional Media turned Digital Experts.
The wisdom? Keep your ear to the ground, so you don’t end up pissing your fans off with a bullshit 30 minute long video.