young group consuming information

The Attention Catch-22

This blog post is by the Brands2Life Global team.

How do you engage with an audience with a short attention span?

It’s a common problem that many comms professionals all over the world face today. This was a subject matter broached at Web Summit last month – with over 20 conferences, 50K attendees from 166 countries, infinite queues and billions of leaflets, how do you make sure you catch people’s attention and keep them engaged when it’s so easy to get distracted by something else and switch off?

The way people consume content and news has not massively changed over the years – it’s a mixture of text, photos and videos that people interpret no matter the channel. But the main thing is that despite the varying channels to consume news across the globe, people still value the content they consume.

There are three things that have been influencing the way we consume information:

Fake content – Fake news has got a lot of traction recently following the article on Buzzfeed which revealed that teenagers in the Balkans were duping Trump supporters with fake news. Even our trusted media portray the same story in different ways. The recent political and global events such as Brexit and the US presidency of Trump caused many publications to not publish about the truth, but misleading stories about the outcomes. My colleague also wrote a post on fake reviews damaging brand’s reputations. How do we know what is true in today’s world when there’s so many different versions of a story?

App variety – It takes just seconds to engage with the user in an app. Today, consumers spend 85% of time on smartphone in apps, but only five apps see heavy use. Apps play a vital role on how people consume news – there’s now SnapChat and Facebook Live for in-moment experiences. It’s no wonder than Facebook dominates our news agenda using its algorithm to determine whether a post should appear on a user’s profile feed. As new apps enter the market, they must be sure to have compelling content to suit their target audience (the mass public).

The social divide – How can you heal a nation which is being driven apart by social media? The recent Brexit and Trump elections have created more division than unity because of differing views. Just talking to people, you hear that people have been unfriended because of having varying opinions. It’s an international issue that needs to be addressed.

Because of these influences, businesses around the world do the following to capture the attention of today’s society:

  1. Connect with their audience in a way that suits them best – There is now a need to penetrate across multiple platforms (mobile, social media, apps etc). For example, WeChat has grown significantly in China (this platform doesn’t currently exist for the UK), whereas Twitter has not received uptake in countries like Germany compared to the US or UK. We need to bring global audiences together through different means.
  2. Focus on emotions – With so many channels now available to consume content, brands must focus on users’ emotions. Emotions are what connects people to your brand. It’s important to think about your messaging – but how this resonates across different countries and regions.
  3. Provide more engaging stories – Organisations must provide a constant supply of content that draw people’s attention. We still believe that content is still king and it’s about getting your brands to tell bigger and better stories! But different forms of content work differently in different countries. For example, millennials prefer short mobile videos, while the older generations prefer long-form – it’s important to be aware of this.

Brands need to ensure they use the right content, through the right channel to get to the right audience for their business.