The rise of the goldfish-like attention span

The rise of the goldfish-like attention span

09 October 2023

Studies have found that the average human attention span has dropped to approximately 8 seconds, that’s just one second less than a goldfish. This phenomenon can largely be attributed to an increase in social media use. Specifically, with the rise of short content where you have just mere seconds to entertain or inform your viewer. No pressure, right?

If a post fails to provide instant gratification within the first 1-3 seconds, then users will just keep scrolling. 

The psychological term ‘random reinforcement’ can be related to platforms such as TikTok where a ‘win some, lose some’ effect is at play (similar to gambling). When a user finds a video entertaining, they will keep scrolling for more. When a user doesn’t find a video entertaining, they will keep scrolling in hopes of more. The outcome of both options is to - Just. Keep. Scrolling.

This is why short-form videos such as Instagram Reels and TikTok videos are appealing to audiences who don’t have the patience to wait 2-minutes for a sense of gratification. 

With this in mind, we decided it may be time for Mint to delve into the world of TikTok so we did what we do best, a marketing strategy. 

Here’s what we found: 

Our audience is on TikTok: Over 1.65 Million Kiwis are on TikTok, this includes business owners and professionals who hold decision making power. 

It's not just dance videos: There is hunger for both polished, educational content as well as casual, humorous content on the platform.

Frequency is key: To really generate impact, you need to be dedicated to the TikTok algorithm which means posting once per day, at minimum.


Nowadays, it’s common to see brands using TikTok videos and Reels to get across important information in a more candid, relaxed format. This isn’t just consumer-facing brands either, professional services, e-commerce and B2B businesses are all looking to short-form content.

For example, Westpac put together this Reel educating and warning their audience about scam attempts. This Reel incorporates a more casual tone of voice for Westpac, but it’s an engaging way to get across a somewhat ‘boring’ topic.

The verdict: 

Through some research and strategic planning, we actually concluded that TikTok is not the ideal platform for Mint (at least for now). But, we did identify an opportunity to dabble in a slightly more casual content style across Instagram and Facebook.  

Check out our first couple on our Instagram - we had a lot of fun creating these and they were super fast to record and edit. 

If your social or video content isn’t generating the engagement it used to, maybe it’s time to experiment with a more ‘organic’ approach. 

Here are our top tips for doing so:

Nail the ‘hook’: Harness the power of your first 1-3 seconds with an enticing opening line. Those ‘goldfish’ need to feel engaged right from the start.
Tweak your tone: Embrace a more casual tone of voice, treat your video more like a conversation with your viewers.
Insert captions: Don't assume everyone has their sound on. Captions are a necessity and can easily be added within Instagram or Facebook.
Be trend-savvy: Keep an eye on TikTok and Reel trends that your business or industry can jump on. These can amplify your reach and help keep your content diverse.
Use a teleprompter: Your videos can look like they are ‘off the cuff’ but they don’t have to be. With a teleprompter app you can have your script at your fingertips, there are many free options out there.


But, where does this leave long-form content you may ask? 

Whilst long-form content is more expensive and time-consuming to produce, it’s still important to invest in professional, longer videos in certain cases. For example, on your website or for a large campaign.

The key is ensuring that your long-form video content can be used across channels and that it is ‘gripping’ from the get-go to get people engaged past the 8-second mark. 

Also, consider cutting your long-form video into shorter reels, this way you can repurpose it across social media platforms too. 

We hope this has helped you rethink your social media strategy and use of video content. Need an extra set of hands to help? Reach out to our team today to learn more about our video and strategy services. 

Gabby Terrell

Gabby has a true passion for content creation, with a particular flair for social media and copywriting. A top-notch communicator with a client-first focus, her knack for words and love for all things digital always create content gold.