The ideas that attention spans are shorter and audiences operate in discrete silos are received wisdom. As a result, companies produce and repurpose more content than they previously did. All this happens under the presumption that consumer habits are changing and firms need to keep up.
Last week, Instagram rolled out polls. The move, mimicking functionality from Twitter, enables users to run polls in their Instagram Stories. It’s an incremental and unsurprising move. And yet, when you note the vast array of other changes (like trialling swipe up links for some accounts) that are only available for those publishing Stories, it’s obvious that it’s all designed to encourage more, and more frequent, posting.
Meanwhile, posts published on Google’s My Business, which helps firms take control of how they appear in search, only appear in search results for a week after they are published. After that, they expire. Again, this is a move to encourage more frequent publishing.
Over on Facebook, for those seeking to maximise their organic reach the consensus seems to be the consistency with which you post (alongside how well received your posts are) has a dramatic impact on reach.
So, alongside the received wisdom that consumers want targeted, bite-sized content, we have social networks increasingly shrinking the lifespan of content.
Consumers and platforms are turning up the speed of the treadmill. Companies are the ones doing the running, but they’re not in control.