Social media undoubtedly is a huge part of the younger generation, Gen Z. It allows users to share pictures, videos, and messages. One of the most popular platforms among Gen Z is Instagram. The major features in Instagram are Stories, Reels, and Feeds.
|[Image of Reel and Story features of Instagram. Credit to Pixabay]|
A common characteristic of these features is “briefness”. Stories and Reels are exceptionally short: a maximum 15 second range of content time. The contents range from pictures of food to entertaining clips. In Stories, users navigate by swiping the left or right side of the screen; in Reels, users navigate by swiping up and down. Users can easily skip “boring” content; inevitably, only “appealing” contents rise up.
A user simply touches the screen for a continuous stream of short and appealing entertainment. Social media provides “instant gratification”.
Expert marketer Mr. Balkhi from Entrepreneur Magazine notes that “the attention span of humans is less than that of a goldfish – eight seconds”. He also adds “the on-the-go nature of content consumption demands immediate output.” Because of this, Mr. Balkhi predicts that most social media content will become, namely, “snackable-content”.
Why did snack content become popular especially among Gen Z? Just a few decades ago, people enjoyed going to the movies or amusement parks. Certainly, there was no such technology to support social media.
There is another important difference between Gen Z and the past generations. Gen Z can effectively utilize short break times for entertainment through social media.
Another reason is the difference of the attention-span. Amanda Stears from MIDIA Research Company noted that the, “The average attention span of a millennial is 12 seconds, which falls to a staggering eight seconds for Gen Z. 15 second short-form videos work wonders in this formula and setting [the short attention span and busy lives]. Users are given the flexibility to discover more videos at a faster rate, according to their preferences. To put it simply, this formula fits their lifestyles and social media habits.”
|[Example of Instagram Reel on my account. Credit to Sean Kim]|
Ms. Stears pointed out that the 15 second opportunity to gain popularity “incentivises users to generate more content. A full minute would generate four clips, thus increasing the chance of gaining an online presence.”
In this culture of short media, addiction necessarily follows. The easy navigation amplifies the curiosity of what fun content lies ahead. When fueled by marketing strategy, addiction will simply continue to grow.
Although social media can give us instant gratification, it may not promise a gratifying life.
Chadwick International School
Sean Kim email@example.com