Human Attention Span outlast Goldfish.

Feb 17, 2021 | Blog

It is a blatantly false narrative that, in recent years, human attention spans are declining to a point that the average goldfish has a longer attention span.

It is a made-up number. (See reference at end of article.)

For some reason, we see the general drop in the length of time someone spends on a video as an example of a decreasing attention span. In fact, it is really about people getting particularly good at determining if a video is relevant to their needs.

Attention Spans are not getting shorter.

And if it were true that attention spans were getting shorter, how do you explain the success of Netflix or Amazon Prime?  If you like the show or you find it relevant, you hang in there for hours if not days.

And that is the key to a successful video on social media: Is it relevant to what your viewer is looking for whether it be information or entertainment or a “how-to”?

Relevance Determined in Seconds

If it is not relevant, it only takes your viewer a few seconds to decide that’s the case and flip to the next item in the feed. We are just becoming particularly good at making quick decisions on the relevancy of content.

It has little to do with attention spans.

This is especially true for newsfeeds on platforms like LinkedIn. Mostly, people are looking for content that relates to their work world. Since they are likely at work (or at home working) they do not have a lot of time to spend on non-relevant content.

So, when you look at your video numbers and you see video views drop off dramatically after five seconds, there are really only two general reasons for this: it’s not relevant to the viewer or the video is so poorly constructed they don’t realize the content is relevant.

Added to this, if the video is a pitch, it will likely by flipped through without much thought. No one likes to be sold to unless they are in the mood to buy.

Create videos that people want to see.

The best videos provide information on a topic that is relevant to your viewer. If it deals with a prominent pain point that your viewer may be experiencing, the viewer will hang in there. Then the video should take the viewer along a sales funnel that shows how your product or service solves a specific issue.

If you go off that path, you really cannot blame it on short attention spans. You need to look at the video and see if it is as relevant as you might think it is or as clear as you really need it to be.

As for goldfish, they have particularly good memories.

They are used by neuropsychologists to study memory formation. Their memory has been studied since the early 1900’s and their study has become a model for studying the process of learning and the process of memory formation.

Furthermore, my goldfish watch Netflix.