baked potatoSmaller and faster. Faster and shorter. Quick. Snippets. In our attention deficit society, attention spans are getting shorter by the day, and it’s being trained by social media messages to expect the most in the least amount of time. (ooh, look. Something shiny.)

I saw a television special years ago that addressed our shortening attention span. Interestingly, the program dedicated a full 60 minutes to the subject!  I remember they used the example of a baked potato to illustrate what our brain comes to expect.

In the “old” days (some 20 years ago), if you wanted a baked potato, you had to wait for the oven to preheat, wrap the potato in foil and then bake it for 45 minutes. We knew that was how long it took, so we were content to wait for the finished, buttery, product. Then, microwaves came along and you can have that same potato baked in 12 minutes.  The brain has now learned that it takes 12 minutes for a potato. No, if you try to go the old oven route, the brain starts to have a recorded, physiological effect after 20-30 minutes of waiting: “Hey, it should only take 12 minutes, why is it taking so long?”

The same comparisons can be made with how fast the Internet responds, how quickly you can travel from city to city, how fast we get our news. Faster. Shorter. Quicker. If we don’t get it, we start to get antsy.

Is Your Social Media Message Too Short, or Still Valuable?

The established axiom of marketing is that you have just 3-4 seconds to capture the reader’s attention. Now, you have just seconds to keep the reader’s attention. How can you do that?

The most used social network, Facebook, allows you the most time and space to get a message out – up to 400 words. But use all 400 and the reader will pass you by. The use of photos and images are key in telling your story. Photos and images are the highest shared category on Facebook – you need to use them to engage the reader.

Use of visual social platforms like Pinterest and Instagram reinforce just how important photos and illustrations are in telling your story. More and more, you need to think about how to tell your company’s story visually.

Use of the Infographic

Infographics help present information in a format that is easy to read and understand.  It’s today’s version of the bar chart. If you can condense some key company information into an infographic, you can then communicate the message in seconds.  Once you do that, make it easy to share – include it in your own blog posts, on Pinterest, on Facebook, on Twitter.  People like to share infographics.

How Short is A Too-Short Video?

Companies spend a lot of money to produce high-quality sales videos for presentations and trade shows. YouTube has opened an audience of millions to view that video in 2-6 minute snippets. Along comes Viddy, making video easy and accessible to social media outlets – 15-seconds at a time.

In February, Twitter launched Vine – which allows you to post a SIX-SECOND repeating video.  SIX seconds? Can you really do anything with six-seconds?  Well, it’s certainly the new “fun” thing to do – so why not think about how you can use this new outlet?  Here are some tips for creating your first Vine video:

  • Say something entertaining
  • Speak directly to the camera
  • Show a quick tour of your office
  • Show your product in motion
  • Introduce your staff by featuring a special skill, trick that they can do – in six seconds!

Here are some examples that show even six seconds can be fun to watch and even valuable to your brand:

Let’s face it – we live in a world of short, attention spans, getting shorter by the day. So, rather than whine for the good ole days, good marketers need to get on board and learn how to harness the power of six seconds.