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How The Internet Has Made Listeners Like Goldfish

Let’s face it we are assaulted with information from every angle seemingly non-stop. 24- 7. Erik Logan (now President Of Harpo Productions) once wrote in his programming philosophy that a radio station’s main competition wasn’t the format competitor, but rather everything else around us, kids in the car, billboards, phone calls and the internet, and that was before Twitter, Facebook and all else the internet brings us. Stations have learned to embrace the technology to further engage listeners, but how has it changed us and what can we learn from it?

This continuous stream of information has actually begun to change our brains; we think quicker and are distracted easier. Pre internet, the average person’s attention span was thought to be about 20 minutes, growing longer from childhood to 20 minutes around age 20. According to the BBC “The addictive nature of web browsing can leave you with an attention span of nine seconds.” Nine seconds, that what some say is the attention span of a gold fish. It’s also the length of a good into to talk over and about the time it takes to read the average Facebook post or tweet. 

So what do we learn? Just to be quicker? It’s much more then that. We must learn to be compelling in that short time frame, crafting a meaningful, fascinating first sentence. If you are doing 20 to 30 second break, you must capture your audience in the length of a tweet or they will be gone. The good news is we get to practice this across many platforms. It does not just relate to breaks but to Twitter, Facebook and other social media. In this distracting environment you must be immediately captivating. No matter what media you are using to engage your listeners (or followers) message cannot be an afterthought. Craft your message to engage the goldfish and you will win by being heard.