Kids’ attention spans can teach us about creating ‘thumb-stopping’ content

In order to truly pass the attention-grabbing test, ClickView content producer Alice Donaldson argues kids are the best control group you can find.

All too many marketers assume that by splashing out on an expensive video production and flashy graphics, they have everything they need to get customers on board. In most cases, they’re wrong. In order to work their way into potential customers’ memory banks, videos need to stand out and hold our attention.

During our time producing educational videos for kids, we’ve discovered some essential recipes for keeping and holding attention that can apply to any kind of content; whatever age group it’s designed for. Even if you don’t produce content for kids, there’s a lot that the younger generation can teach any marketer. Kids are honest, switched on, and already watch a lot of content. If you can make content that passes their stringent standards, you’ll be well on your way to attention-grabbing success.

Short and sweet

Firstly, it’s critical that marketers learn to make their content short. Gone are the days of a class of students sitting patiently as the teacher wheels in an old VCR player, dusts off a dreary two hour documentary, and then spends a good chunk of an hour working out how to hit play.

Kids, just as much as adults, expect high-quality content that’s interesting, juicy and to the point. You’ve got a short window to capture and engage your audience before their minds drift off to anywhere else. For children and adults alike, six is the magic number of minutes that video content can hold their attention in a meaningful way. The first ten seconds should tell the viewer exactly what to expect from the content and then provide that payoff as quickly as possible.

Content creators must learn to turn complex topics into delicious, digestible nuggets of information for audiences to consume. In order to get there, there’s no need for superfluous sentences, pretentious language or complicated graphics. Content should be effortless to consume, not a strain to unpack. If the incredible success of TikTok is anything to go by, people of all ages love watching short, snappy, digestible content.

Another important lesson to take from the world of TikTok and YouTube is that informal shots can beat expensive studios. The internet age has primed us to respond well to authentic, vlog-style content that doesn’t need to break the bank. It’s time to start striving for a one-on-one, personal feel that’s conversational and authentic. If the younger generation has taught us anything, it’s that engaging content can be filmed with anything. It’s the story behind the content that really counts.

Bringing content to life

For young audiences especially, it can be a challenge to make a strong connection between what’s happening on screen and the real world. Content creators must learn how to bring a story to life by showing, not telling; along with employing tried and tested narrative techniques.

Delivering your message through narrative will not only grab and hold your audience’s attention, but help to make sure the information delivered is remembered more accurately and for far longer.

One great way to bring content to life is to bring campaigns physically into the real world. Take Aldi UK’s festive Kevin the Carrot campaign, for example. The campaign, which has been running for five years, combines heartwarming video storytelling with physical in-store toys.

Children and adults alike have been clamouring to buy plush toys of Kevin and his entire family, with the retailer even being forced to place a two quantity limit to ensure all customers are able to bag a Kevin. The deceptively simple campaign has been a massive hit for the supermarket chain, and shows the power of bringing content to life beyond the screen.

A great story – such as the adventures of Kevin and his family – will always feel much more real in the minds of the viewer than pure information alone. Our brains pay much more attention to information when it’s in the form of a narrative, since storytelling is an inherently human trait.

Relatable examples, real people, human (or carrot) emotions – these are the pillars that will elevate a message and make content shine. Plus, if you’re not sure if you’re on the right track, you now know who to ask.

Alice Donaldson is a content producer at ClickView.


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