Why the 8-second Attention Span Rule is a Fraud

 

 

 

… A lot of social media experts aren’t going to like me for this one.

 

 

As a business that is surviving during the age of social media domination, it’s highly likely that you’ve come across some advice that says ‘you have 8 seconds to capture the attention of your reader’, or ‘on average, healthy adults have an attention span of 8-10 seconds’.

 

This information is widespread, and suggests that social media posts should be drafted, written, edited and created with the intention of lasting for this specific timeframe to adequately capture audience attention.

 

Anything longer, and you’ve lost your man.

He’s gone.

He’s back scrolling Instagram looking for ‘New Year, New Me’ memes.

 

Yes, a short and sharp post definitely has its place. It is definitely one of the most consistently used tools when expanding a business network. It has an excellent ROI.

 

But, all posts needing to be 8-10 seconds at all cost?  I call bullshit. Here’s why.

 

 

It’s about HOW you capture attention

 

Have you read a book for longer than 8 seconds?

 

Humans have the ability to re-focus on something that captures their attention. We focus, then re-focus, then re-focus again.

 

So, if you’ve read a book or a newspaper article for longer than 8 seconds, it’s probably because it has captured your attention. You find it interesting, and you continue to re-focus because you want to learn more.

 

That’s exactly what your written work should be doing. It should be interesting. It should be so interesting that it captures the attention of your audience, and forces them to re-focus until the Very. Last. Word.

 

Stop thinking about how long you have, and start thinking about how you’re going to make the time that you have the most valuable that it can be.

 

Use your words. There are millions of them.

 

 

Let’s talk facts

 

If we’re going to refer to science, let’s talk science.

 

If you’re going to really promote that adults have an attention span that is of 8 seconds only, you need to know where this study was conducted. Wikipedia won’t cut it here.

 

So, ask Dr Google instead.

 

And, you’ll find that the results are endless. So many articles saying attention is less because of smart phone time, and not a lot that says where this information or study has come from. Some say Microsoft, but even Microsoft refers to another company… who refers to another company…

 

So, that’s well over 8 seconds of us trying to find a way to disprove the theory. Stop focusing on the time.

 

 

Your clients are, mostly, human

 

If you decide to put everyone into one box with the same Officeworks label, you’re only going to be able to get the same result over and over again. And, when it comes to business… that’s not an ideal position to be in.

 

Your clients are human. Your customers are human. Your viewers are human. Give them a little bit more credit than a stat that suggests that they can only focus on something for 8-10 seconds.

 

Social media is an incredibly powerful tool for business development. It is a free way to spread your message. So make it exciting. Make the most of understanding and connecting with your audience, and use your ability to edit your words to gain the attention that you need to further develop your business.

 

Stop focusing on length, and start focusing on the right words AT the right time.

 

So… how Long Has It Taken You To Read This Blog So Far?

 

Let's work on your words. 

 

*Natalie Scanlon has used the study of journalism and law to revolutionise the written word. Working with innovative business professionals worldwide, Natalie has created a culture of forward thinking, creativity and encouragement while injecting a sense of sass into the usually grey corporate sector. She is not a Doctor, Psychologist or Scientist, and only uses Dr Google in serious situations. 

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