Our attention spans are shrinking, so how can publishers compete? By embracing the micro

The average attention span has dropped from 12 seconds to eight seconds as of 2013 according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. That’s one second less than a goldfish’s attention span.

How can we as content creators compete with that? Target the literate goldfish market? No, but we can embrace microcontent. Microcontent is exactly what it sounds like; it’s small, snackable content catering to these ever-shrinking attention spans. If the average person can only focus on your content for eight seconds, make those eight seconds count!

The easiest way to do that is to revitalize headlines. Sites like Upworthy, which boasts 33 million unique hits a month, are marketing masters when it comes to this, posting short, meaningful content with often long and grabbing headlines (not unlike the one used for this post). A great headline encourages users to click and read that content, effectively using those eight precious seconds.

A great headline is the promoter of good content, but where should you promote your microcontent? How can you optimize such a small attention span that’s already distracted by social media? The best way for content creators to deal with this is to consider which social media platforms to use to market material and how.

For example, consider how microcontent should be marketed on Facebook vs. Twitter. Twitter has a strict character limit and frequently uses links whereas Facebook allows for longer posts and combines image thumbnails and richer media. Readers will be drawn to marketing material that is a master of its medium. You’ve got to know the strengths and weaknesses of the social media platforms you use. Adapt your content to utilize these strengths.

Let’s use a recent Quietly post as an example. The list article is “15 songs that make their movie trailers great.” To promote it, we used different methods to adapt to the social media platform’s strengths. See the difference between Facebook and Twitter?

Sometimes the best part of a movie is the song played in the trailer. Sometimes it makes it better. We take a look at 15 great songs that make the movie trailers awesome. http://ow.ly/zVCZY

Posted by Quietly on Monday, August 4, 2014


Using social media and embracing microcontent, content creators can appeal to a market of people who’s attentions pans are shrinking every second. If you made it to the end of this blog, congratulations, my goldfish did too.


Image credit: Andrew Pescond via Flickr

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