Busting The Social Media Ruined Our Average Attention Span Goldfish Myth

I published this article titled “Thanks social media – our attention span is now shorter than a goldfish” all the way back in 2014.

At the time this myth was running around the world that scientists had measured the attention span of humans and found that it dropped from 20 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds. They had borrowed on an old myth that goldfish have the attention span of 9 seconds. And so the assumption was that – thanks to social media which had taken off in the early naughts – our attention span was now shorter than a goldfish!

The implication for marketing was to create shorter content, more entertainment, more humor, more images, more direct promotion. The assumption that our attention span was shorter than a goldfish has since been proven untrue.

In fact the research showed that our ability to process information has actually increased, despite the many and increasing number of distractions we face today. So what’s the implications for digital and content marketing: focus on what works. Helpful content still attracts and converts more than promotional content. Stories beat snippets. Facts beat jokes.

Read on to hear why we need to be vigilant about busting this “Social Media ruined our attention spans and they are now shorter than a goldfish” myth.

Quick takeaways:

No one has ever really measured a gold fish attention span
Research actually suggest our ability to process information has gone up as has the number of distraction we get from social media
Effective content marketing still focuses on helping people as much as possible

Quick Personal Goldfish Story
On October 9, 1999 I married the love of my life. The following day we were whisked off to beautiful Hawaii for an amazing honeymoon trip we still talk about now 23 years ago.

2 days into our trip, I was videotaping the sunset and noticed on the date stamp on this old camcorder screen that said it was October 12th.

October 12th? That’s my birthday! OMG I forgot it was my birthday!

This was 1999. Before Facebook. Before Twitter. Before iPhones.

You see, we have always been a distracted bunch.

Quick Professional Goldfish Story
For years I had talked about this one amazing example of content marketing that really focused on my industry. I used them as a proof point for why we should use content marketing at SAP –

By: Michael Brenner
Title: Busting The Social Media Ruined Our Average Attention Span Goldfish Myth
Sourced From: marketinginsidergroup.com/content-marketing/thanks-social-media-average-attention-span-now-shorter-goldfish/
Published Date: 10/25/22

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About the Author: Walter Acosta

Walter Acosta is a blogger. His primary interests are in digital marketing and content creation and curation.