Gone Fishin’: Ways To Reel In Your Audience

As a society, we have long joked about the goldfish and its embarrassing attention span. Do you remember watching your pet fish, Bubbles or Nemo or Jaws, in his bowl, eyes jutting from behind your tapping finger? He would swim to the bottom of his glass enclosure and hide behind that sunken pirate ship. You would pity his tiny brain and inability to retain information, but for no more is the gold fish the butt of our jokes.

Recent studies now show that you (and your fellow 21st century citizens) have a shorter attention span than your pet fish.

Throw the once finite number of 12 seconds of coherent thought out the window. Amongst today’s ever stimulating world, most people now lose focus after merely 8 seconds of attention. Doesn’t sound so bad? Goldfish can hold attention for 9 seconds.

Take that in for a second. We’ve been so busy interacting with multiple screens, multiple windows and balancing additional conversations on top of Spotify playlists that we’ve allowed the goldfish to surpass us. It doesn’t look like things will take a turn for the better any time soon, either. With that realization comes challenges for digital marketers and designers alike:

How do you break through the clutter and hold the ever-fleeting attention of your target audience?

Digital Marketing Is A Highway 

Imagine you’re driving down the highway (likely going 70+ if you’re in Texas). Cars are speeding along with you on either side, maybe your kids are in the back incessantly kicking your seat, the radio announces a new Lady Gaga song (what is this, 2013?) and you see a fluffy poodle, tongue waving in the breeze, rolling alongside you with its head hung happily out the window.


The scene you just experienced is no different from today’s digital landscape. Even Facebook, which optimizes its platform based on user experience, can’t stop its users from zooming down their timelines hoping something catches their attention. If our digital networks and platforms are going to act like highways, let’s treat them like one.

Treat your digital ad like you would a billboard. Follow the following principles and you’ll get your messaging across in a memorable way, regardless of those 3 seconds you’ve captured.

  • Try to keep messaging between 3-8 words
  • Make copy skimmable and easy to digest
  • Utilize impactful, to-the-point imagery
  • Create a clear CTA (Call To Action) and navigation
  • Tell stories, pull heart strings
  • Utilize video no longer than 1:30, making the first 8 seconds attention-grabbing
  • Use social platforms that align with your target demographic – Twitter, Periscope and Snapchat tend to have younger audiences because of their fast, fleeting updates. Facebook and Instagram are fairly all encompassing of all ages. LinkedIn skews older.
  • Optimize for all screens – design specific dimensions and tailor your ads per platform

According to Hubspot (a favorite source of us digital marketers), “The average user picks up their phone more than 1,500 times a week.” During work, during dinner, during their favorite shows and even during conversations with their loved ones. If users today can’t even listen to those they care for most without being distracted, how can we get them to view our messages intently? Hubspot experts also noted that on the average web page, a typical user will only read 28% of words during their visit with average page visits spanning only 10-20 seconds.

The best way to combat our decreasing attention spans is to just keep swimming. Design for your audience and make content that is interesting and innovative. Despite our goldfish-like tendencies, people will focus when something catches their attention. The job is becoming increasingly difficult for marketers across the globe, but following these tips can give you an edge over the competition.

Digital marketing is a fast-paced, ever-changing environment. If it is hard for you to keep up, we understand. Don’t struggle through, just let us do it.

Tribu specializes in goldfish nurturing.

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What Do Great Designers and Children Have in Common?

One of the most important abilities you can have in design is the ability to think outside of the box. Yes, you’ve probably heard this before. Everyone has, because it’s an old ass saying. Thinking outside of the box is a great way to foster true originality in creative work, but how is it accomplished?  How do you come up with a truly original creative idea? The truth is that you can’t. Yet still there are over 285,000 designers in the U.S. alone coming up with a sh*tload of creative ideas every single day. How do these people keep their jobs?

As a designer, I struggle occasionally (ok, way more than occasionally) with not being able to think outside of the parameters given to me a.k.a not being able to “think outside of the box.” This frustrates every creative professional to no end. It’s the pull your hair out, eat really unhealthy food, AND chocolate kind of frustration because I would keep generating THE SAME IDEAS. They’re the boring, safe, unoriginal, lazy, “looks familiar” types of ideas. It happens to us all at some point. Just because we were given the gift of being creative doesn’t mean we don’t slam into the (insert word here) wall every once and awhile.

Alien With a Mohawk

So, I recently watched a very interesting show on the National Geographic Channel that really put things in perspective for me. It was more of test or as they called it on the show a “brain game.” Let’s give this brain game a try, shall we? Look at the image below. In the next 7 seconds name as many things as you can that this shape looks like. Ok, go!

design-children-tribu-marketingBack already? Ok now honestly, how many ideas did you come up with? If you said, “Alien with a mohawk” you are just awesome. On the show, a group of 20 something’s were asked the same question and presented with the same image. The 20 something’s averaged only two ideas per person. Only two ideas! Boo! A group of children ranging from 8-10 years of age were asked the same question with the same image and the children averaged 6 ideas per child.

The Difference

So, what the show was explaining is that in adults (me and you), when we create memories, are actually creating paths in our brains. And so everything is and becomes relative to something else. The paths allow everything to become familiar to us. So when we see something that doesn’t look like anything else we have a hard time coming to any conclusions about what it is or could be. Where as in children that haven’t been predefined and don’t have these engraved ideas or paths already in their brains, are just completely open to imagine anything! They are free to come up with absolutely anything because their brain allows them to, and they do. Their imaginations have no limits. The ideas that the children were coming up with might not be anything you or I could have imagined but once the idea was said, we could instantly see it, imagine it and it makes us think, “Wow, how in the world did they come up with that?” And as a designer, that is one of the biggest compliments that you can ever receive…ever.

Thinking Outside of the Box

So the same group of 20 something’s were again asked the same question with the same image, but this time they were asked to “think like a child” before they looked at the image. It triggered something in their brains to allow them to see the image in a way that wasn’t necessarily realistic or true to form. In other words they weren’t trying to make the image something that came from a preconceived idea, they were truly thinking outside of the box.

When you apply this way of thinking to design, new original ideas are born. It’s limitless. Thinking “outside of the box” or “thinking like a child” (as I now like to call it) allows your imagination to run. It’s allowing yourself to push down the parameters of your mind; to go out into the open field where there are no borders and no boundaries. It allows you to completely explore the space that is your imagination.

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