Why most shared content has virtually no impact on your brand…

Originally published 2016…

Any marketer, advertising agent, researcher or social scientist worth their salt, knows for any marketing content to resonate with, let alone influence, the typical punter, it must be consumed numerous times in a short space of time. Seeing something just once, rarely makes a serious impression (though it is rated as such in media terms – an impression that is).

Unless the message is designed as a direct response message, giving prospects all the information they need to ‘act now’, most marketing messages hardly penetrate our grey matter if only seen once.

Just look at the way we learn at school – through repetition. A message has to be repeatedly consumed for it to eventually make it through our distracted craniums and finally embed itself into our conscience. This is called learning. It’s a rare human indeed, who can read or view something only once and then remember the content.

raked-classroom1937
Information retention comes through repetition not from glancing at content

So what does this mean in the world of digital chewing gum for the brain? This is the world where the people mostly share content in social channels, which requires less than a metaphorical chew to consume. The receivers of said content quickly scan it, dismiss it, then start to chew on the next piece of content, ad infinitum.

digital chewing gum

The majority of content shared by consumers is mostly images, video, memes, jokes, fundraising appeals and personal stories. People rarely share words or phrases, particularly lots of words like those populating ebooks, whitepapers, brochures and the like. Of course people communicate back and forth using words, but it’s not sharing in the content marketing sense.

The act of sharing on social media often has less to do with the content being shared and more to do with narcissism. “Look at me, I’m sharing this before anyone else” or “look at me I’m sharing something – how many likes did it get?” or “look at me, I liked something”. Though sharing in business channels can have less selfish motivations.

The average adult attention span is now roughly 8 seconds (just less than a goldfish) and ASS Times keep getting shorter and shorter – less than 1 second for many image-based channels like Instagram. So the ability for any snack-size marketing content to resonate at all in the memory of consumers, is nigh impossible. Did you like that piece of digi-jargon – “snack-size”?

attention span

And what about all that thought leadership content floating in cyberspace? At best, much of it remains in the ‘download folder’ of computers, because we’re too busy to print it or consume it in any depth. It’s why good quality email messages to opt-in subscriber lists, along with blogs, are still the best performing content online.

Ironically the content marketing failure is being driven by the content itself and FOMO. I’ve talked about the infobesity problem before. The average punter is waterboarded with content from friends, strangers, government, institutions and brands every second of the day. Add to this deluge, the modern dilemma of FOMO forcing consumers to have minimal engagement with content, and you can see why brands gain almost zero benefit.

Consumers know there’s loads more content coming down the digital pipe and they don’t want to miss it. So they quickly and disengagingly ‘like’ something, or ignore it, before moving to the next set of pixels.

content hipster
Hipster training to consume marketing content…

Just as we chew gum without thinking and then spit it out, it’s the same with content. We consume it without thinking and with almost zero emotional engagement. We swipe, pause, swipe – in a constant process to churn through the non-stop current of content. And the pause is usually shorter than the time it takes to spell ‘pause’. And even if consumers do take a few seconds to read or view your content once, will it really make a lasting impression?

Hmmm that reminds me, I’d better check my emails. Oh look there’s a dog…

dog

P.S. Please feel free to share this content with as many as you like:)

5 Comments

  1. So now would be a great time to make the case for the printed word, as from what I’ve read, the printed word tends to stay in the brain longer and is consumed more intently.

    • yes, in fact if you saw media watch last night you’d see the problem with online news. The best site in Oz averages just 2 minutes per per visitor per day, whereas a person who buys a newspaper averages 40 minutes reading it.

    • Naomi … are you insinuating the ‘printed word’ on the screen is digested differently from ‘printed word’ on paper? Perhaps by the older generation … but I haven’t heard/seen ANY research that supports that idea. I’d be interested to see a link?

  2. To snag the words of Dan Hollings, ‘its about finding the right bait to attract the fish in whatever pond they are swimming in’. Social content seems to be a perfect forum for ensuring a message is “consumed several times”. We consume the messages that connect with our interests and passions. The more interested and passionate we are about a topic/good or service, the more likely we will give it attention … in whatever forum it comes to us.

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