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If your brand’s online engagement stats are through the roof, then you should be worried.

An interesting study looking at digital engagement (measured by time spent interacting) and user happiness from Thrive Global and Moment has found a startling negative correlation.

The apps we spend the most time (essentially social media) with are the ones associated with the least happiness (specifically how happy we are with the experience).  Whilst the apps we spend the least time with – essentially apps that help us achieve our goals (calendar, navigation…) are the ones associated with happiness. In digital it would seem that short is sweet.

Legitimate caveats about the difference between correlation and causation aside, this finding is surprising since so many marketers (mistakenly) still fetishise ‘engagement’ as a useful digital metric (as Google’s metric guru Avinash Kaushik repeatedly points out “engagement is not a metric, it’s an excuse“).

But when you look at the evidence that consumers feel time spent in social media leaves a bad feeling of time wasted, it begins to make sense. Add in the insight that our emotional reaction is linked to goal achievement (the job to be done), it becomes clear that digital experiences that are time-bandits are bad for the brand and bad for the user.

A human life is just 2.5 billion heartbeats long.  We owe it to people to design fast and effortless experiences that help us make the most of these heartbeats.

Engagement sucks. Short is sweet.

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