The shrinking attention spans of the readers have become a major issue for the marketers, PR people and journalists. But in reality, it is only an excuse coming from the writers of poor quality content. Though I may sound harsh, it is a reality. No reader will leave a great piece of information unread because of shrinking attention spans and if something has indeed interfered with his/ her attention span, the problem is with the content and not with the reader or anything else. However, we will also have to accept that the attention span of the readers has indeed decreased as there is an abundance of choice and readers can effortlessly move across a media landscape. Due to the popularity of mobile devices, the concept of reading content has been reduced to skimming content in feeds, which is making it increasingly difficult to get people read anything that are more than a paragraph.
But this is not the real problem; shrinking attention spans are only the symptom. The real problem is the digital media, which is designed to be quickly clicked, consumed, and spread and at times at the speed of lightening. For most marketers it is “clicks are king” as they drive ad revenue rather than making “content is king” their rallying cries. Instead of creating thought-provoking and well-written digital content (in terms of both articles and videos), marketers are creating content that could be spread easily and quickly. Readers, on the other hand, will need several minutes to read the article or watch the video. Now the marketers don’t have the time for the readers to finish reading or watching the content, they are more interested in encouraging the readers to share it or to get them click through to the next content and this process repeats. Marketers are hardly concerned if the content is consumed, all they want it to be shared and increase the click rates. All I want to say is that long-form content is not yet dead as many media pundit out there proclaim. It is the nature of digital publishing that has actually changed and shifting their focus to create content that takes lesser time to read or watch and consume.
Though this process is quick and cost effective, in the long run it is of no good. The popular social and search platforms like Facebook and Google’s recent algorithm shifts have proved that there is a growing demand of better content among the consumers. The search and social media giants are actually filtering out all type of irrelevant noise to help their users. However, it does not mean that short is always bad. Rather it is the quality of the content that you need to focus on instead of its length. The focus should be to create great piece of content and give the readers to read it and consume it and then share it. The secret here is to engage them.