Why Tapping Into Short Attention Spans Is Good For Business



“It’s gone viral” is how most millennials and startup teams say eureka these days. It’s a seemingly straightforward goal, with concrete results, so why does getting your brand and message out to the masses seem so daunting? The challenge at hand here is to pay attention to pros like Eli Pariser (he co-founded that cute little site Upworthy) when they talk about utilizing apps and other mediums that deliver material to “consumers” in a way that is tailored to their ever shrinking attention spans and free time.


Millennials are re-writing how businesses form and succeed, which is not bad for a generation most people had written off as the laziest in the history of mankind. One of the biggest changes in business can be seen in the new marketing strategies big companies are employing.  Marketing has been a central part of companies for the past 200 years, and has always patted itself on the back for how easily it has evolved to engage with new and untapped demographics, but the past few years have changed the game. Major players are now looking to the little guys and cueing into to how these savvy (read geeky) coders got information out to the masses so quickly, and to the surprise of the folks in marketing, people seemed to actually seek out the information being disseminated (also a surprise: people seem to really like cats).




The other cultural shift that has potential to empower the little guys (and gals) is the way young people are thinking about success. 25 years ago, most people conceptualized successful entrepreneurship as a guy in a designer suit and a tie-clip with money to burn. This stock image has changed for most of us. Most people in their 20’s and 30’s grew up learning that the internet was going to change the world and even the playing field for everything from news to commerce. It looks like our computer science teachers were right, and the evidence can be seen in how modern business success stories are thought of and portrayed. I guess the takeaway here is that the people behind startups aren’t anonymous gladiators in some Darwinian death match taking place the matrix, they are your friends, siblings, favorite professor, or the guy you wished you had the guts to be. This concept is made evident by crowd sourcing, which I would argue  isn’t just a product of our generation but rather a direct reflection of our broader set of values.


With that in mind – it’s time to stop getting embarrassed over promoting your brand and your message across people’s news feeds. It’s how success is measured, and is key in finding and maintaining investors in the many markets. Your audience will understand because, chances are they know people just like you and want them to succeed too. Multiple models show that the emotional component of material shared online, is what gives it fuel for its long journey through countless social networks and platforms. This idea is clearly one of the key underlining components in the success of sites like Upworthy, but even zooming-in on a micro level, user decisions to click a meme or share a link are more of an emotional process than a logical one. Tapping into that source by being relatable might not just in trend right now, but could also be plain common sense.


In the “economy of attention,” consumers are swayed by quick, quirky, and easily digestible material that resonates with them on an emotional level. This whole idea of looking at consumer’s short attention spans from an economic perspective came from a guy named Thomas H. Davenport. Like most good ideas, it is again very straight forward, the amount of information available online is growing infinity everyday, but human capacity for taking in this information has not grown (if anything its shrunk). As a result modern day entrepreneurs are getting creative with the products the create, and the ways they choose to promote them.


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adamr | FreeDigitalPhotos.net