Press the Reset Button

As well as 3,000,000,000 users now on social, I’m going to throw another spanner in the works; not only are things getting a little busy in the world of social, but also people’s attention spans are decreasing.

I recently read an article that said, of the 3 billion users now on social, 2.87 billion are accessing social media via their phones. Shortly after, I read that on average, content viewed on mobile is viewed for just 1.7 seconds, compared with 2.5 seconds on a desktop. In the grand scheme of things, this is pretty minimal, but it made me realise – people are paying less and less attention.

So advertisers are faced with two big problems:

  1. Content isn’t being seen
  2. When it is seen, the chances of someone paying the slightest bit of attention to it are increasingly small.

Hitting the 3 billion users mark is a huge wake up call. In a world of ever changing formats, ads, content (and attention spans), we need to press the reset button and reflect and adapt strategies and attitudes.

Always on is dead (HOORAY)

Each brand and each campaign will of course have differing objectives. Then it follows so should the social strategy. There’s no point in ‘just having social media’ for the sake of it – that’s arguably one reason why we’re in this over-polluted, noisy mess.

This rapidly evolving social world in itself represents that ‘one size fits all’ can no longer apply. We can no longer be formulaic in our approach – each brand and each individual campaign surely call for different results, so each approach must be bespoke in terms of content, strategy and targeting.

This means no more ‘always on’ (hooray!) This isn’t necessarily news, but I think in light of social growing to be such a huge entity, this is an important point to make.

Does your nit comb brand really need Instagram?

It goes without saying that content needs to be pretty awesome nowadays, so I’m not going to go down the ‘be different, be disruptive’ route. As well as content being good, we need to ask ‘is it necessary?’ Is there an audience for this? Is this the right place for this piece of content?’

There’s more people now, sure, but there’s also more content. With so much of it flying around on social media, is it any wonder attention spans are decreasing? As advertisers we need to be more responsible in our attitudes and ask ourselves, is it relevant, is it interesting, does it serve a purpose?

There’s no such thing as a free lunch

Having access to three billion people can’t be free. That would be madness. Yet the ‘pay to play’ role of social media still comes as a shock. When forming a social strategy, brands and agencies must rely on even small pockets of paid media to get their content seen. I maintain that smaller, regular bursts of paid media are incredibly effective in achieving reach among your target audience. And let’s face it, what are the chances in the first place of you reaching even a small proportion of your exact target audience among 3 billion people?

‘Likes don’t pay the bills’

Logically, as the social audience grows, organic reach dwindles. There are varying figures on what percentage of your fan base your reach organically, but we all know by now that it’s pretty low. So for brands with small budgets, an obsession with growing the fan base isn’t the smartest move. Say you invest in follower ads (which are proving pretty expensive), then only a very minute percentage of those people will actually see your content.

So what purpose is a growing fan base serving? There’s a saying at Facebook: ‘Likes don’t pay the bills’.


Alice Thompson

Alice Thompson

Content Strategist