People say that your audience has the attention span of a goldfish. That's not true but it's important to understand what distracts us...
Last week, I heard it again: “your audience has an attention span that only lasts a few seconds!”
Let me put that into context for you with regards to the content that you create and want your audience to read, remember, and act upon.
Your ideal scenario is that your ideal clients, notice your post, read it with focus and intention, remember the points you are making, and then reflect and act upon your content.
For that, you need to draw their attention, keep them engaged, understand your message, process your message, remember your message, take an action or get a positive outcome from your content that carries into their future.
That’s a lot that you expect from your audience (and that your audience expects from your content).
In this post, I am going to look into what your content is competing with and how you can win that competition with better content that your audience finds valuable and desirable enough to consume with their full attention.
From an evolutionary standpoint, our survival depended on continually scanning our environment and processing what’s going on around us.
There was no point in being totally absorbed in weaving a beautiful basket and not hearing the bear that’s breaking through the bush to eat you.
Even when you are focusing on a task, all your senses are still engaged with your environment. They are running on “autopilot” in the background.
That makes you realise that you’re thirsty and stay hydrated throughout your day. It lets you hear your alerts on your phone pinging, smell the muffins that your daughter is baking, or suddenly remember that you had to make an appointment with your chiropractor…
When someone is telling you that your audience cannot focus for a longer period of time - then what they say - is that your audience is not intentionally focusing on your content and not intentionally managing distractions.
However, your audience is well able to focus on your content when they…
Let me assure you – it is totally normal that your mind is drifting away from the task you are performing at any given time. It is even desirable when you are working creatively – because that’s how new ideas pop up.
The important thing is, that you notice when your mind is drifting and bring it back to focus on the task that you had the intention to complete.
But that’s easier said than done because…
Your brain is naturally attracted to novelty. It craves new input because that releases dopamine – and that makes you feel good.
Scrolling through your social media feeds that need. Scrolling makes you feel good. And it provides an infinite string of new impressions that make you feel good.
That’s why you often don’t notice how long you spend on social media. Before you notice, 30 minutes are gone without any useful output.
It goes as far as feeling a craving for your mobile phone whenever it’s not next to you and a need to pick it up to check messages and new posts in your feed etc.
Considering this – your content is up against a strong and addictive competitor. Your content must grab attention to stop your audience scrolling, and it must enable them to withstand the urge to seek more novelty elsewhere and stay focused on your content because what you share will either entertain them now or work in their favour later.
In other words – each point that you are making in your content must at least equal the novelty kick that your audience is getting out of scrolling further for other content.
But how can you successfully overcome those hurdles with your content?
Here’s what I mean by better from a writing perspective:
Here’s what I mean from a reader experience perspective:
Never forget that your audience invests time into reading your content and you need to make it worth their investment. Reading your content is like an opportunity cost – you need to ensure that reading your content gives them a better benefit than the alternative activities that they could have chosen instead.
Writing better content that is enjoyable and provides your audience with value after they’ve finished reading, takes a little more effort up front.
But considering that you might be writing content for years to come, it’s worth the effort.
Effort #1 - you need to understand your ideal customer’s content needs and the benefits and outcomes they desire.
That allows you to create content that they find valuable and worth reading.
Each piece of content should be like a small contribution to their greater goal or success.
Effort #2 – Writing more strategically allows you to create content that your audience wants and needs to read. Defining content pillars that are related to your value proposition and that let you create content that is always related to the outcomes your readers want to achieve, ensures that your content becomes a “must-read” for your audience.
Effort #3 - Become a better writer! Gather a decent amount of copywriting knowledge and writing practice. I.e. learn how to write better and write more – consistently!
Effort #4 – Stay informed and tuned into environmental changes that have an impact on your clients so that you can write content that meets your audience’s current needs and priorities
Effort #5 – Never stop learning and growing. Learning and personal development allow you to always be at your personal best and deliver cutting-edge content that challenges your audience to think, grow, and perform on a higher level. And that gives them a sense of achievement that definitely makes them feel good about reading your content.
Humans are super easy to distract because their brains are designed to be distracted and because they are forever seeking pleasure.
Understanding that your content is engaged in a super-tough battle for attention is the first step to becoming more intentional so that you create content more consistently to be more visible, impactful, and memorable.
However, you can stay on top of the game by creating bingeworthy and valuable content that your audience can’t wait to read.
For that, it helps to understand why your audience is so easily distracted and what you can do to write content that delivers more value that keeps them engaged.
The best way to ensure that is to simply write better.
Simply because - not everyone is willing to put the effort in.
But everyone has the potential to become an amazing writer!
The first step is to gain clarity on the value that you deliver to your clients and the messages that you need to share to make your audience realise that you are the perfect person with the perfect solution to help them achieve their goals.
And then it’s about learning how to write better and making writing a habit that you can practise with ease and joy.
If you need more clarity about the messages and content that cuts through the noise and doesn’t let your audience’s attention stray from your content, then send me a message!