Engaging Users With Short Attention Spans in the Age of Streaming

By Viktor Underwood, CEO at Quickchannel

While live streams and virtual events can successfully bring geographically disparate audiences together with maximum convenience and minimum cost, over the past year audiences around the world have also been experiencing digital fatigue due to the increased time we’re spending in front of our screens. On top of this, attention spans are waning by the year. According to a study recently commissioned by Microsoft, the average human attention span has now dropped to a meagre 8 seconds – shrinking by nearly 25% in the space of just a few years.

Maintaining user attention is going to prove to be more of a challenge for brands and marketers, especially when it comes to streaming events. To an extent, webinars and virtual trade shows are at a disadvantage compared to physical events. Because visitors need to invest both time and money to attend an event in person, they are more likely to maintain their focus. Conversely, most users tend to work on other tasks while also logging into webinars, which means attention spans will be noticeably reduced at the time of streaming.

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As a result, user engagement should be front of mind for marketing professionals when streaming video content. This can be achieved by incorporating interactive features that allow viewers to influence, choose, or contribute to the content of the live stream. A few examples of how hosts can prompt user engagement include live chats, direct messaging, opinion polls or even games and rewards.

Competing for attention

With our lives now much more fast-paced than they used to be, attention spans have become shorter as people have become used to having all the information they need in the palm of their hands. However, while this has its benefits, for marketing professionals it means that the competition for people’s attention has never been tougher.

The feeling of being pulled in all directions is felt by most of us, but for those born into a digital world, the typical attention span sits between 8 and 12 seconds. With this in mind, short-form video has seen a surge in popularity, with Generation Z and Millennials leading the way.

Webinars and online streams

Webinars are designed to expand a brand’s reach without restrictions. This is usually done by providing insight into a topic or product that audiences are less aware of and addressing their questions and doubts in a way that leaves a lasting impression. This is achieved through a combination of presentation, social skill, length, delivery, and engagement.

With many resources now online and events benefiting from both online and physical attendance, streams are at their most effective when they are between 60 and 90 minutes long. With videos one of the most powerful and convenient ways to connect with people worldwide, committing to a specified length not only helps engage those with short attention spans, but also avoids people leaving mid session.

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Prompting user engagement

Marketers have quickly recognised the power of a mix of long and short-form video and made them a central part of their marketing strategies. This has been especially useful for those looking to reach a diverse, younger audience, a demographic that can be a challenge to engage.

When executed correctly, videos can be enjoyed by those with very short attention spans, while also being creative and authentic so that it can capture the audience’s imagination and drive results. If brands are willing to invest in user engagement to get into the mindset of their audience, it can drive authenticity and build genuine engagement.

Other ways of getting noticed include having a strong online presence where brands can be accessed at any time. Live chats and direct messaging options make businesses appear real and accessible and by providing instant responses customer expectations are met.

How to market to future generations

Turning existing content into bitesize videos is a popular strategy for marketers who are looking to work with short attention spans. By breaking longer content down into a more digestible format, the longer form content can be teased where applicable.

However, although grabbing attention can be achieved through short videos, not all users will be looking for quick-fire content all the time. So in order to keep up with trends, pragmatic marketers will need to adapt content into a longer-form webinar or session when applicable to enhance user engagement.

Producing quality content is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and not all forms of streaming and video will be right for every brand. With a detailed digital strategy in place, marketing professionals can look to take advantage of gaining engagement and how to leverage it in order to create long term relationships. By helping audiences become aware of how you can solve their problems through products and services, sustained attention and focus, marketers will be prepared to meet the demands of both the current and next generation of customers.

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