Dee Agarwal on Content Atomization for Content Strategy

Attention spans seem to get shorter and shorter every year. In fact, this phenomenon has been measured. As of 2020, the average attention span of a millennial is twelve seconds, and the average attention span for a Gen Z is even shorter — a mere eight seconds. This is not a surprise nor a coincidence. In a world where content is constantly being created and smartphones give people direct access to everything from commerce to entertainment, it can be difficult to stay engaged with longer-form content. Furthermore, the rise in popularity of apps such as TikTok has directly catered to this new preference for content delivery by giving their audience curated videos that never seem to end.

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Breaking it Down

Given the shorter attention of key audiences, companies should tailor marketing content into soundbites that deliver the most impact in the smallest package. Atomization is defined as a means to reduce something from its original state to minute particles. But what is this phenomenon in relation to content, and why does it matter for brands? Just like the original definition of the word as it relates to physics, content atomization describes the breaking down of large pieces of content into smaller, bite-sized units that are easier to digest quickly, whether it be video or written content.

Deepak “Dee” Agarwal, a longtime entrepreneur and c-suite executive who has led multi-billion dollar ecommerce businesses — most notably NoMoreRack.com — explains that this shift in format preference is not necessarily a negative thing as long as brands know how to apply it to their content strategy. Knowing what the audience wants is incredibly important, but being able to translate what it means for the company is imperative.

Dee Agarwal says, “I have seen really eager and passionate people, who clearly care a lot about what they do, dive into creating lengthy, verbose pieces of content. While that type of work demonstrates a deep understanding and passion for the business or industry, consumers probably won’t appreciate it as much as it deserves,” explains Dee Agarwal. “That depth of information is not actually useful to most consumers, which means the time and resources spent making that content is wasted.”

As Dee Agarwal implies, knowing what audiences and clients expect is the perfect way to tailor content to those specific preferences. These days, this means short content that is informative and to the point.

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Evolution of Social Media

Over the past few years, social media platforms have recognized and reinforced the importance of shorter, easily digestible content and have been constantly evolving their interface to fit this consumer preference. As a result, the market has witnessed the shift from longer videos, to simple posts, to stories, and now to short catchy TikToks, YouTube shorts and Instagram reels that have taken over people’s social media feeds.

Commenting on this change, Dee Agarwal says, “Social media has proven the importance of content atomization. All I hear about today is TikTok. Long-form YouTube videos are becoming antiquated because no one has the time or patience to sit through those 10-minute videos anymore. These are important insights that business leaders can bring to their companies – make it quick, memorable, and action-oriented.”

Content atomization is likely not just a trend. The cycle of shorter content and shorter attention spans has no end in sight. Executives that want to reach their audience in a meaningful way must make an effort to break down their content into digestible pieces that are easily understandable.

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