On a recent United Airlines flight, I noticed something discouraging.
People have alarmingly short attention spans.
They just don’t focus on one thing for long before getting bored, worn out or distracted.
Here’s what I witnessed (before I mention it, maybe I shouldn’t have been so nosey but I couldn’t resist).
Girl with her smartphone
The girl sitting in front of me on the flight was in her mid-twenties (I’m guessing). Maybe I shouldn’t guess because there are two things I’m horrible at guessing: age and weight. Two things you shouldn’t guess aloud, by-the-way.
But this mid-twenties, strawberry blonde was holding up her smartphone (pre-flight) and fiddling with it for a time. It was a long enough time to spark my curiosity.
What could she have been fixated on for so long?
Well, it was dismaying. She wasn’t fixated on much for very long at all.
In the few minutes I observed her, I watched her go from playing Angry Birds, to chess, to texting a friend and a host of other apps of which I’m unfamiliar (I don’t have a smartphone, by choice).
She didn’t spend more than a few moments using an application.
In fact, in between all the apps and texting, she occupied herself by casually scrolling through menus, reading old texts (which I couldn’t read – don’t worry) and flipping through different menus trying to find something to keep busy.
Sure, it’s boring sitting on a plane before taking flight. The Sky Mall is marginally entertaining for a quick flip-through (who buys that stuff?) so cell phones and laptops do the trick. I get it.
But why did her task-hopping alarm me?
Competing for attention
As an online marketer and small business owner I have to understand that people have lousy attention spans. Hey, I can be impatient and get distracted as well.
But to see this person flipping through menu after menu, screen after screen, starting and stopping one game just to do the same to the next; I thought to myself:
“Holy smokes! How can we manage to put something together online that would ever keep eyes on it for more than 45 seconds?!”
How can you compete with the sleek graphic interfaces and entertaining games like the ones Ms. Smartphone was bored using?
Here’s my answer: don’t worry.
There is no magic bullet, no specific words to type, and no website layout that will guarantee you’ll have your visitors rapt by your message.
You simply have to produce the most useful, engaging content you can. Videos, text, audio and images can and should all be used to deliver your message. Offer your content on a site with clean design and be clear with your calls to action.
There’s no need to worry.
The people who align with your message will come back for more, on their terms. You just have to keep showing up and bringing the goods. They will love you for what you do and, with time and practice, you’ll improve at giving them reason to come back for more.
So before you break out in a cold sweat wondering if anyone will take the time to learn about your product, service, or if they’ll read your blog: relax.
You will find your people and win their attention by consistently delivering quality content.
Do you ever notice how distracted people are these days? Does it worry you and how do you respond? Share your thoughts in the comments.