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Marketers out there can breathe a collective sigh of relief. The Internet isn’t killing attention spans after all.

No, that oft-quoted research about human beings now having lower attention spans than goldfish – it’s fake news.

Despite being quoted by supposedly respectable news outlets like the Telegraph and New York Times, there was no research.

Surprisingly, no one asked a goldfish. Ever.

Fortunately, Jason Miller – Global Marketing Leader at LinkedIn – set the record straight at B2B Ignite last week.

Actually, if real research is anything to go by, there’s no attention deficit. It’s more a case of people investing their attention a lot more selectively.

So while we’re all creating a flurry of more snackable, short-form content, guess what – long-form content is apparently where it’s at.

According to Jason, longer posts not only perform better in Google rankings, they get more shares.

In fact, a 2,000 to 3,000 word missives get, on average, double the number of shares than a post with a measly 1,000 words or less.


But do more shares mean that more people are giving us their full and undivided attention whilst reading every word that we’ve written?

Possibly not.

A study last year suggested that 6 out of 10 people will share a link without reading it.

Perhaps longer content looks more credible and shareworthy, even if people can’t be bothered to take the time to read it.

Come on, hands up – how many times have you shared a link, a post, a video, an infographic without giving it a thorough once over?

Some opportunists are already capitalising on this behaviour with something called ‘sharebait’. You could call it the bastard cousin of clickbait, with the idea being that if you use the right headline, or make the content look useful and interesting enough, people will share and share away – without taking the time to either read or view what it is that they’re sharing.

So what does this all mean for content creators out there?

Go short – and have more chance of people actually consuming content.

Or go long, look more credible and secure more shares?

If LinkedIn’s own experiences are anything to go on, the advice is opt for longer-form content, it converts better.

For me though, with the right marketing, great quality content will win out regardless of its length.

One thing we should never underestimate is how discerning potential buyers are and their ability to separate the crud from the good – sniffing out bad content from a mile away.

Whether you decide to play the short or the long game, just make stuff that deserves people’s attention. The good will always win out.

Check out Jason Miller’s presentation from B2B Ignite (it’s more worthy of a share than this is).


(Image: Lauren Peng on Unsplash)