Digital detoxLast week’s news that millions of people in the UK have taken a “digital detox” made me feel a little uneasy.

From a content marketing point of view, it’s always been as much about getting a high quantity of output into the world as it is a high quality of content.

However, with 34% of internet users having taken a period of up to a month away from the web, the time-sensitive content that has a ‘best before’ date arguably becomes less valuable.

Taking a closer look at the findings

The research from Ofcom suggests people are becoming more discerning about the content they are consuming online, as a result of growing awareness that they are spending too much time on the internet.

Some 59% of those surveyed considered themselves hooked on their devices, with a third saying they found it difficult to disconnect. Half said that they spent longer online than originally intended each day.

The study of 2,025 adults and 500 teenagers was conducted as part Ofcom’s annual Communications Market Report, which assesses the state of the digital nation.

Respondents said they are noticing that an over-reliance on technology can impact their social lives. Four in 10 adults felt that they were regularly ignored by a friend or relative who was too engrossed in their smartphone or tablet.

A typical adult spends an average of 25 hours online per week, with nearly half (42%) saying they go online or check apps more than ten times a day, the research suggests.

Reliance on the internet seems to be affecting people’s personal and working lives, leading one in three (34%) to seek a period of time offline.

A quarter (25%) of those who said they had self-enforced a “digital detox” said they had done it for between half a day and a full day, while two in ten had done so for up to a week. Some even said they took a break of longer than a week from the online world.

When asked why they were taking tech timeouts, 44% said it was to spend more time doing other things and 38% said to spend more time interacting with friends and family.

A third said that they felt more productive as a result of their detox, with a quarter saying they enjoyed life more without the constant attention of the web.

What do these findings mean for content marketing strategies?

For those brands who primarily use content marketing to give them higher visibility in search engines, the results might not have too much of a bearing.

For them, it’s all about getting Google to reward them for producing plenty of relevant content. Of course, those brands still want their customers to read their content, but that’s very much seen as secondary. After all, if they improve their ranking, visitors will be a given, right?

For those that prioritise engaging their customers through content, however, the findings could prompt a shift in strategy.

I mean, what’s the point in creating gallons of content if half of it is going unread? Surely, a better strategy would be to create less content, but place an onus on quality? That way, it wouldn’t matter if people missed it first time around.

Or maybe I’m reading too much into these findings and internet users spending a week or so away from our content will not have too much of an effect? Let us know your thoughts!

Ben Hollom

August 9, 2016