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Enough with the Goldfish already: Busting the Millennial’s attention span myth

By Jonathan Soon - Marketing & Communications Manager, Sarawak Convention Bureau

CNBC reported that millennials have a 5-second attention span. A goldfish has 9.

As offensive as it may sound, there is some truth in it. We are drawn by great headlines, but most of us would not actually follow through with the content. Even for this article alone - some of us may not finish reading it.

And then those who do? They would likely speed read it without digesting the content, and the content would be forgotten in less than an hour.

Why so? Because we are now living in a time where a gazillion more articles are waiting to be read. Millennials are conditioned to access any possible content much faster than naming out loud the four clusters of MICE.

Because of this, the media has begun to adapt. Mass productions of brief, compelling copies. Bolder, sharper advertisements all in a bid to hold our attention. Videos that promise larger-than-life experiences.

We end up having much more content than ever before - but with the same amount of time to digest it. As a young professional in the meetings industry, between chasing documents for winning bids or frantically reaching the AV technician in the middle of a conference, time is a luxury we may not afford to have.

Let's lay down the cold hard truth...

Millennials do not need to be engaged more.

We need to be engaged right.

And it can start with 3 simple rules:

#1 Content that is exclusive

We can smell generic content a mile away, simply because we are the generation that made Google into a word. So, do not even try.

But if there is something that has not been made available online yet, we are hooked. It can be real-life lessons from unique circumstances. Extraordinary challenges which may have emerged in your environment, the solutions, as well as preventive measures that should have been put in place.

#2 Content that makes us cry

In Malaysia, Petronas is one of the biggest players in the oil & gas industry. But they are also famous for their early tv commercials that hit right where it matters. The commercial itself speaks nothing of what the company does, but instead, it shows an acute understanding of its consumers, what moves them and delivers it with an excellent story.

Millennials are very receptive to this. We want content that moves us. Either creating the warm fuzzy feeling which reminds us of home, or sparking an inspiration to try something new, content that drives our emotions like a roller-coaster will win major brownie points.

#3 Content that reminds us why we (still) do what we do

Granted, we are in one of the most exciting sectors out there. We get to meet wonderful people. Tasks so diverse that boredom doesn’t exist. And we get to travel for work!

Beneath it all, we still want our work to matter. To make a difference to someone else’s life. Has the CSR initiative we championed broaden the horizons of rural communities? Has our marketing campaigns changed perspectives of what our destination truly is?

More often than not, Millennials care about legacy impacts. And also we play a major role in driving them.

We are fortunate to have some of our trade media who welcome and appreciate millennials. Publications and coalitions who have taken an active role in engaging our generation and showcase what we can bring to the industry.

There we have it - the 3 simple rules of engagement. And if you are still reading this, we may have actually busted CNBC’s 5-second attention span myth.

What was that they say about goldfish again?

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