ThumbStoppers: The age of Snackable Content

When was the last time you checked your mobile screen? How much time did you spend on what you read uninterrupted before “bouncing off” to next? There is 67% chance that you will not read about the Coca-Cola insights or why Gen Z like S-I-N-C, mentioned in this write-up.
In this always-on-mobile world all we have is a few seconds to get the readers attention – 8 seconds to be precise. Scientific evidence based on various research has proved that the attention is changing, the study by Microsoft ( ) found that since the start of the mobile revolution in 2000 the average attention span dropped from 12 to now 8 seconds.

मेरे पास आओ मेरे दोस्तो एक किस्सा सुनो ।  (Come to me, my friends listen to an anecdote)

According to 2019 Zenith’s Media Consumption Forecasts, people around the world will spend an average 33 days or 800 hours using the mobile internet this year without sleep or pause. And by 2021 the total will rise to 930 hours, or 39 full days. With more people adopting a digital lifestyle consuming more media the human attention span in this age is dwindling and changing, no surprise there.

ओफो आगे भी तो बोलो ना। (Oh please, talk further now)

The always-on generation is hyper busy and surrounded by options. They want to do too many things in the compact 24 hours, and are flooded with options, hence they prefer snackable content – which is short and crisp but powerful and engaging.

With the availability of content on the tap comes a new set of challenges for content creators vying for readers attention. No wonder content creators are working on models to create work that lasts all of few seconds like Instagram Stories or Whatsapp Status. Recently Facebook launched the “Thumbstoppers Challenge” to transform storytelling on the brief of driving behaviour change in less than 10 seconds. People now have more things to focus on – but often focus on things for short periods of time.

फिर क्या हुआ ? (What happened then?)

In 2015, Time Magazine rather dramatically declared, “You Now Have a Shorter Attention Span Than a Goldfish”. As attention spans decrease, consuming media in bite-sized pieces gains preference and this digitised lifestyle is making us the speed-daters of storytelling.
Former TV journalist-turned-entrepreneur Alok Verma was one of the first to understand this emerging trend and started Nyoooz, a platform to provide snackable city-centric news. An early mover, Nyoooz, received the YouTube innovation funding as part of the Google News Initiative (GNI).

More recently veteran journalist Vikram Chandra launched EditorJi, a personalised news app for snackable relevant, reliable and consumable news content. Powered by its intuitive, AI-based engine that filters news playlists according to the preferred genre and time, the app EditorJi has already got over a million downloads. While Twitter leaped from 140 to 280 characters, other platforms like Inshorts aggregate news and summarised content such as videos, infographics, and blogs in 60 words or less.

सीधे Point पे आओ ना। (Come straight to the point now)

In India, consumers will spend an average of 320 minutes a day with media this year, up from 270 minutes in 2013. By 2021, the average consumer will spend 348 minutes a day consuming media as per Zenith’s Media Consumption Forecasts. With mobile as the biggest driver of content consumption media, the challenge for platforms will be not only to catch eyeballs but retain them on the screen with easily digestible and delicious content. Platforms and companies have started focussing more on volume and expanding the user base with heavy spending and feeding the audience with content that is attention-grabbing, visual, and emotional. Advertising firms, content companies are now hiring Chief Creative Technology officers who create content keeping in mind how medium is defining the message.

A study at Technical University of Denmark suggests that the collective global attention span is narrowing due to the amount of information that is presented to the public. The same devices used to get things done – Laptop, Tab or Smartphone – are also acting like the gatekeepers of endless distractions. Not only are there more distractions than ever, tasks are now usually interrupted and returned to, switching between various Apps and sometimes devices.

To stay relevant with consumer’s attention span which have reduced dramatically, Coca-Cola is investing on neuro science and analytics to capture consumer insights focussing on multiple touch points.

ज़रा short में बतलाओ ना। (Narrate it in short)

If contemporary approaches to learning are to be successful, platforms must take advantage of new formats to catch on the short attention. Today the Gen Z likes S-I-N-C (Short-form, Influencer-driven, Native and Co-created content) and are creating their own snackable content. Platforms like TikTok, Sharechat, Instagram are capitalising on this. This is in sharp contrast to the 2016 findings of Pew Research Center where they found an average of 123 seconds of interaction time (scrolling, clicking, and presumably reading) for stories longer than 1,000 words compared with 57 seconds for stories shorter than 1,000 words.

लफ़्ज़ों से बेहलाओ ना। (Don’t fool us with your words)

DailyHunt has tied up with more than 1500 large publishers and 15000 content creators to create short, snackable video content. Seth Godin, Author has carved a niche for himself by posting daily short snackable blog posts on a wide variety of topics.

If earlier one communication could be shared across multiple platforms, now the challenge becomes more as distraction are higher and one has to find stories that are Thumbstoppers. Good stories don’t take time, remember The Gold Fish is moving.

The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Reputation Today.

Anup Sharma
Anup Sharma is a full-time student of life and part-time Story Teller with two decades of experience in Public Relations, Public Policy, Political Campaign Management, Digital and Social Media Outreach.

He is a Mentor and Senior Fellow at The Lentils Institute, a democratic sustainability think-tank and Senior Director at Public Relations Consultants Association of India (PRCAI).

You can reach him on Twitter @TweetsAnup.

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