According to new data, the average human attention span hovers around eight seconds. What’s more: That’s down from 12 seconds since the beginning of the mobile era.
Even goldfish have longer attention spans than the average human at this point in time (nine seconds)…which is strange to imagine.
What’s happening to our ability to focus? It’s shrinking at an alarming rate.
Marketers have to take this into consideration when creating content and materials. So what do they need to know about hacking audience attention spans with interactivity?
In this post, we’ll examine some stats that indicate how interactive content is effective for the ever-shrinking attention span, as well as what aspects make it so engaging for users.
What Do Internet Users Want?
First things first: Do users actually care about interactive content? Is it interesting and engaging to them?
The short answer: Yes.
Data from eMarketer shows that Internet users find interactive content more interesting and prefer this content format (compared to non-interactive formats). 54% of users pay more attention to highly interactive video content, and 48% prefer highly interactive video content over non-interactive video content.
The data also showed that more than two-fifths of media and audiovisual executives are already using interactive content as part of their content marketing strategies. From polls to calculators and interactive quizzes, these interactive resources are helping add a fun, engaging element to otherwise static material.
But it’s not just content marketing that’s seeing interactive content as an effective tool for hacking short attention spans.
Content marketing is the most common use case for interactive content, but it’s followed closely by paid social media campaigns, internal brand promotion, and non-paid social media campaigns as well.
Organizations are finding that while interactive materials are highly effective (and preferred) by the content marketing audience – they’re valuable and engaging for other outlets and purposes as well.
Now what we see how widely adapted and preferred this content format is, let’s explore why it’s so effective.
Why Interactivity Works for Short Attention Spans
What makes interactive content so effective when it comes to the ever-shrinking attention span?
It’s Visually Interesting
Over time, visuals have become more and more important to content marketing. As a result, rather than sticking to static text, as a whole, marketers are realizing that visuals are a way to quickly and easily share ideas and concepts (as images are interpreted 60,000 times faster than text.)
And guess what? According to Content Marketing Institute, 63% of all social media content is made up of images.
But interactive content goes a step beyond mere visuals. It makes those images interactive and engaging so that the user has an influence on how content displays, reacts, and appears on their screens and devices.
It Leverages Storytelling
Interactive content also engages through the power of storytelling. By placing the user within the story via his or her own unique inputs, each individual gets to create their own narratives. The story they create through interactive content is their own, based on their input.
For example, look at this interactive quiz from Curalate:
By allowing the participant to influence the outcome of the story by sharing their own input, interactive content grabs the attention of the user and holds onto it until the end result is produced. After all, once you’ve started a quiz like this one, you want to know the end result, right? It’s an information gap that simply has to be closed.
Last but not least, interactive content hacks attention spans by getting users to participate – by making them an active part of the conversation rather than a passive observer.
If you’ve ever been part of a class where the teacher dumps information and doesn’t ask any questions, you know how quickly the mind can wander. Think of that as your standard, non-interactive content. Then compare it with the class where the teacher has you get hands-on with an experiment, where you’re learning first hand and sharing your personal input. Totally different experience, right?
Interactive content gets the user to participate and taps into different psychological aspects that make it more compelling and interesting for the user.
Short Attention Spans: Interactivity to the Rescue
While the length of our attention spans might be shrinking, the good news is that interactive content formats are still a viable option for capturing and maintaining the focus of those ever-wandering minds.
With content that harnesses visuals, tells a story, and invites uses to become active participants, it’s not difficult to see why it’s so widely preferred by users in comparison over non-interactive counterparts.