May I Have Your Attention, Please?

February 12, 2018


Time. It’s our most valuable resource. How we choose to spend it is up to each of us.

But there’s a lot competing for our time… and for our attention. Studies have shown that the average person sees up to 10,000 brand messages a day. And while that frequently-shared factoid claiming that people now have a shorter attention span than a goldfish is certainly debatable, you can bet that as content marketing continues to rise, dealing with information overload will only become more and more challenging for the audiences we’re trying to reach.

For the past few weeks, marketers have been frantically talking about the impact of Facebook announcing they’ll be prioritizing posts from friends and family over content from brands and publishers. But this shouldn’t really come as a surprise. We’ve seen this day coming for years now.

We speculated that organic reach would eventually be zero when Facebook announced it was going public in 2012 and again in 2013 when brands and publishers saw the first big dip in organic reach. In today’s world, paid is no longer just an option for brands on Facebook. And other platforms will soon catch up to speed.

Paid strategies can definitely help ensure your content gets seen by the right audience. But being seen doesn’t necessarily mean that anyone is actually paying attention.

So how can you break through the clutter when there’s so much competition for just a few precious moments of people’s time?

1)   Tell great stories. Make the shift from pushing out content to telling memorable stories that engage your audience and inspire them to think/feel/do something different. Carve out a portion of your budget to experiment and innovate.

2)   Focus on quality over quantity. Don’t worry about filling all the blanks in your editorial content calendar. Do fewer things better. Customize each story to fit the nuances of the platform. And remember, not every story is appropriate for every social media platform.

3)   Respect people’s time. Get to the point faster. If you can’t get someone to stop thumbing through their news feed on their phone in the first three seconds (without the use of sound), they’re gone. Most people only pay attention to the headlines, so there’s a pretty good chance you’re skimming past this tip right now.

4)   Don’t make it all about you. I’m sure your product or service is the most innovative and breakthrough ________ (fill in the blank) in the industry, but what problem are you helping to solve for your audience? Why should they care what you have to say? Add value by being useful, helpful or entertaining, or risk being ignored.

5)   Simplify the ask. Watch this. Click here. Share this post. Subscribe now. Click “like.” Sign the petition. Tell us your feedback in the comments. Enter this contest. Yada yada yada. The more you ask of your audience, the less likely they are to engage. Have one clear and simple call to action for each post. (KISS).

6)   Partner with influencers. As Mark Zuckerberg has repeatedly said, Facebook was built to bring people closer together and build relationships. Working with influencers can help create those deeper, more meaningful connections while giving you third-party credibility and exposing your brand to new audiences. But don’t expect influencers to talk about your brand without compensation for their time. And make sure they’re following the latest FTC guidelines for including proper disclosures.

7)   Activate your employees. Train and empower your executives, subject matter experts and employees in general to share your stories in their own voice and with their own perspective on their personal social media channels. Partner with social advocacy platforms to help you manage and grow at scale.

8)   Create communities for like-minded audiences. More brands are looking to options like Facebook Groups to establish communities to enable more meaningful and personal interactions. Play the role of facilitator, don’t be the only voice in the conversation. Facebook is rolling out new insights features for groups, making this an increasingly more appealing option to consider.

9)   Optimize over time. Set goals and measure against them. Use data analysis to get insights on what resonates with your audience and what’s making an impact. Do more of what’s working and try a different approach for low performing posts.

10) Finish strong: Lots of brands can get you to stop in your tracks only to fall short at the end of the story with a heavy product or sales message. How did your audience feel after engaging with your brand story? Or did What will your audience remember three minutes or three days later? Are you actually still reading this?

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for your time… and (hopefully) for your attention.