According to a study conducted by Microsoft Corporation, people are more easily distracted and less able to concentrate due to an increasingly digitalized lifestyle. Whether it’s switching between multiple screens, multiple applications, or multiple audio inputs (podcasts, music, etc.), the average human attention span has significantly decreased from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2013. In addition to the obvious mental side effects (“increase in the incidence of attention deficit disorders”), US News stated in a recent article that “young people who spend more than 3 hours a day on social media are susceptible to depression, anxiety, and other illnesses and are more likely to internalize bad feelings about themselves.”
Acknowledging these issues, both brands and social media platforms alike have made adjustments through careful use of social listening. For example, in an effort to “depressurize” Instagram and create less internal comparisons, Instagram removed the ‘like’ counters from user images. From retail businesses like Aerie and CoverGirl to magazines like Sports Illustrated, consumers are driving businesses now more than ever to use social listening, focus on inclusivity, and take public stands on meaningful issues. When these efforts are authentic, it gives the brand credibility and creates brand loyalty. Although authenticity in the social media world may seem far fetched, more and more brands are realizing the benefits of doing so. According to SproutSocial, “companies are realizing that taking a stand can generate awareness and even bring financial benefit. But more importantly, taking a stand gives the brand an opportunity to make a real difference. The question is no longer ‘should our company take a stand?’ but rather, ‘how can we maximize our impact?'”
It is easy to see which brands are sinking and which brands are swimming when it comes to genuinely focusing on making a difference. As the age-old adage states, “Actions speak louder than words” and successful brands recognize this. Fenty Beauty , for example, didn’t just utilize diverse models for their advertising campaigns – they specifically researched and cultivated products that their audience could use. Similarly, lifestyle and apparel brand Ban.Do‘s leader, Jen Gotch, did not just speak about her own mental health, but has created positive, non-judgmental platforms for audiences to engage with one another. On the other hand, organization’s like Victoria’s Secret have not adapted so well. Although the brand attempted to redeem their reputation by finally hiring a plus-size model and a transgender model, they had made it past the point of no return and their historic holiday fashion show was cancelled.
Ultimately, an organization’s actions and voice must align with their values. When this occurs, not only will the brand succeed, but their audience will flourish as well.