Is Shorter Content Really the Answer?

The average human’s attention span is eight seconds; the average goldfish has an attention span of nine seconds.

Most people have probably heard this overused statistic, initially published in 2013, then re-popularized by a Microsoft study in 2015. It’s everywhere.

Any time the attention span is discussed, this fact gets dropped.

Back at the beginning of 2017, the NBA’s competition committee said that it was evaluating game lengths, as NBA commissioner Adam Silver put it, “Obviously people, particularly millennials, have increasingly short attention spans, so it’s something as a business we need to pay attention to… When the last few minutes of the game take an extraordinary amount of time, sometimes it’s incredibly interesting for fans, other times it’s not.”

But in the case of both the NBA and in marketing, does shortening a game or piece of content mean that more people will stay engaged?

Should we cater to the supposedly short attention span, or should we endeavor to keep it for longer? In reality, a blend of both sides is increasingly critical. This post gives tips on when you should cave to the idea of a world where no one can focus and when you should attempt to entice your audience to stick around for a longer stretch.

Where to Keep it Short

Make Sure Your Pages Load Fast

Users aren’t going to wait around while your content loads. Make sure to keep your website running fast to ensure that you don’t lose your audience because of slow page loading speed.

Create Snack-Sized Content

Some content lends itself to being made short. Social media posts are an example of snack-sized content that can be very effective. For example, if you tweet out a nice illustration with a stat, it only takes a second or two for a reader to absorb the whole thing.

Use that same idea for a video and other content. Occasionally send out short, but informative video snippets. This caters to those who often flip between tasks in their workday. They may make a place for your content in between tasks.

Users watch a single internet video for an average of 2.7 minutes, which is more than enough time to push out valuable information.

Use Bite-Sized Paragraphs

When writing content, make sure some of your paragraphs are short.

Like, a single sentence short.

The space surrounding the words will catch your reader’s eye and help draw their attention through the article.

Make Sure It’s Mobile-Friendly

As of March 2016, 65% of all digital media is consumed on mobile. That number is enormous, especially if you don’t optimize your content to work on mobile.

Ensure that your content is easily viewable on mobile. This means optimizing images and design in general. Make sure that your mobile viewers are getting the same quality experience as those viewing on a desktop.

Where to Let it Get Long

Customized and Personalized Content

Know your audience and create content specifically for them. Make sure that the content fits their interests, and it will be easier to keep the attention of your viewers. To do this right, make sure you create buyer personas and tailor your content to fit them.

Make It Media Rich

Include different forms of media in your content. For blog posts, make sure to use images and even include video if you want. If you mix and match media to create a better experience, your audience will be more likely to stick around for a longer piece of content.

Create Value

Make sure that your content isn’t just fluff if it’s longer. You need to create valuable educational tools if you want your audience to stick around.

Make sure that longer content qualifies as a resource. Maybe it’s something they need now or will save later. But regardless, make sure that your audience has a reason to continue reading.

There are places where you should try to keep things short for your audience. Then, there are places where it’s worth it to try to get them to remember you. Just like most marketing tactics, it is critical to maintain a balance of long and short content tactics to keep a generation of multitaskers on track.


Let us know what you think: 

  • Have you opted to keep your content long or keep it short?
  • Why?
  • What tricks do you use to keep your audience engaged? 



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