There’s no doubt that the rise of social media and mobile marketing is making it harder for brands to tell their stories, when the average person’s attention span was 8 seconds in 2015.

That’s one second shorter than a goldfish, according to a study conducted by Microsoft.

Perhaps these goldfish, or any fish, have a lesson for marketers to learn.

Fishing, both a sport and an art form, requires the tact of patient stoicism as well as the strategy of active ambition. The fisherman must know what tools to use, the habitat, the depth of water, and of course the right kind of bait to catch each type of fish.

Marketers have the same task, as they are fishers of men.

Brands are constantly asking themselves, “How can my message stand out?” “How can I target specific audiences?” “How can my voice be louder than my competitors’?”

The trick, as it is told, is to raise your words, not your voice.

Quality is obviously more valuable than quantity in this circumstance. Pushing a thousand blasé brand campaigns would be like casting a thousand lines with empty hooks. You need bait and a hook. Brands must learn to tell their stories, not just concisely, but comprehensively. Stories must be interesting and shareable. Funny and emotional. Authentic and approachable.

That’s quite a tall order for a universally short attention span.

These attention spans are not threats to marketing, but rather opportunities. Opportunities to become better, more authentic, more creative storytellers. As 2016 rolls in sooner than anyone is ready, brands must dust off their storytelling tackle boxes and ask, “What tools do I have? Which ones do I need?” but more importantly, they must ask, “How can I use them better?”

And then they must cast a line: not to catch the first bite, but the right bite.

– Halah Flynn,