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TL;DR – Engaging with Consumers Too Busy to Pay Attention

Insight, Strategy

To anyone who has spent any time on internet forums or comments sections, probably while pretending to work, TL;DR will be a familiar acronym. To those uninitiated, or those who will pretend that no, honestly, they were working and have never even heard of reddit, it stands for ‘Too Long; Didn’t Read’.

It can be used in one of two ways:

  • 1. To show utter disdain for someone who has written a long post, usually accompanied by a downvote (or equivalent).
  • 2. To preempt the occurrence of use 1 by providing a précis of your long post for those who can’t be bothered to read more than 10 words.

This is a symptom of a) the fact that people can just be awful to each other on the internet and b) that humans have shorter attention spans than goldfish.

The research was conducted in 2015 and showed a decrease in attention span of 3.75 seconds since 2000, roughly coinciding with the rise of digital media usage and we can only assume that this trend will continue as our digital use continues to grow.

So, what does this mean for marketers?

Firstly, we can take a positive out of this that more people are likely to interact with our content, as they are spending more time consuming more media. Therefore, theoretically at least, we should be able to increase the penetration of our content.

However, on the flip side of this, our content now has to deliver its key messages in less than 8.25 seconds and that is a huge challenge.

We already know that, metrics scandals aside, our video content on Facebook is deemed to have been watched at 3 seconds and we’ll be charged for 10 seconds of viewing.

Is that really enough time to engage a customer? Can we ever get value for money out of this?

The optimum engagement time for YouTube is slightly longer, with a good analysis from Wistia showing 1-2 minutes to be the sweet spot.

What this means is that we need to get smart and creative with our content strategies (not something that’s a given).  We need to understand our audience, know where to place the hooks in our content, always have clear CTAs and use the right channels to deliver the right content.

Content marketing has long been the buzzword of marketing but it’s still something we’re getting wrong time and time again. This needs to change if brands are to have any hope at engaging increasingly distracted consumers.

TL;DR Sort your content strategy out or lose your customers.

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