The lockdown across India has resulted in the spike of social media usage. A study done by Statista reveals that individual users have spent approximately five hours online per day immediately after lockdown came into effect. It is a significant jump from just over three hours prior to that but this surge has put marketers in a quandary. They know their customers are there but without undivided attention and that is a cause of big worry for them in ‘attention economy’.
Nobel Laureate Herbert A. Simon has first coined the terms “attention economy” explaining attention as the bottleneck of human thought that limits both what we can perceive in stimulating environments and what we can do. He also said that a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and marketers of modern times would agree with him. The onslaught of excessive data and information has reduced attention to be a limiting factor instead of a force multiplier.
Slippery Road Ahead
Attention may be an intangible factor yet it is extremely valuable. Therefore, every brand is fighting for your attention and they do so in several insidious ways. They use a combination of elements like reactions, emojis, share and tag to keep you mindlessly scrolling for hours and offer you that dopamine hit you have been craving for.
Let’s have a look at the wealth of information or data that India is dealing with at the moment. A McKinsey survey last year showed that the pace of data consumption per user in India grew twice as fast as in the US and China, increasing by 152% annually. There’s too much content in the attention economy for anyone to even make sense of it, much less use it to its full advantage.
Consumers have only a finite amount of time to consume all that is being produced and constantly repurposed. Vast quantities of data sliced and spliced to suit various needs could prove to be counterproductive, fear the marketers. MIDiA Research warns that we are entering an era of attention saturation where every new consumption minute gained comes at the cost of consumption time elsewhere.
Let’s be careful of burnout
In modern age, knowledge isn’t power, attention is. Feel good rhetoric of attention economy has passed its expiry date. Consumers are smart and they have woken up to the realization that the technology behind social media was designed to be as addictive as slot machines. They are no longer listening.
It’s not about more and more content to reach out to target audience; it’s more about old-style human to human contact aided by technology. Don’t commit the crime of spamming the prospects with depersonalized messaging. Instead talk to them like a human and not as a machine. The breakthrough that we need is more to do with a human/machine symbiosis than a cold algorithm.
Take advantage of Artificial Intelligence
Problems set in when we try crafting messaging that can appeal to a large group of people, each with their own individual tastes and values. Artificial Intelligence has the capability to first determine a piece of content relevance to particular person and then acting upon such information.
Let’s go back to the basics
Businesses are marrying big data with old school outreach to add a personal touch. There is a realization that real engagement is spurred in the follow-up with face-to-face encounter. An authentic follow up is the key and it will remain so.
Understand and appreciate life cycle
Life proceeds cyclically. We create a new technology that promising to transform life only to witness its downsides a few years later. It causes backlash. We should not treat AI as a technology that will solve every problem of every business instead truth lies somewhere in the middle.
Now, it is time to look for a much humane and smartly orchestrated approach to engage with the consumers.
Authored by Abhishek Sinha, Director, Digitales