The sports world is up in arms after Kliff Kingsbury, the first-year head coach of the National Football League’s Arizona Cardinals, announced last week that he’s giving his players a “social media break” every 20 to 30 minutes during team meetings. Kingsbury’s justification is that he sees the players start itching for that social media fix and he’d rather designate time out for them to check their phones than have them doing it during meetings or losing focus while daydreaming about it. Also noted in some of his first remarks at head coach, Kingsbury recognized these social media breaks as an opportunity for his players to connect with fans, team-run accounts and other players. Twitter went nuts, sports talk show hosts lost their minds and former professional players openly laughed during television appearances.
Yahoo Sports labeled Kingsbury a “millennial enabler.” Noted sports analyst Stephen A. Smith yelled that champions do not need phone breaks and called it asinine while on his show First Take, saying, “He (Kingsbury) disgusts me…I don’t particularly like him. This is professional football; this isn’t a daycare center.”
The consensus is that the 39-year-old head coach is pandering to the younger generation of athletes and is out of touch with professional-level players having been in the college ranks for the last 11 years. Are we becoming people, employees, friends and family who can’t be with each other for more than 30 uninterrupted minutes before the fix to see what’s on social media becomes uncontrollable? But hold on; if you think about it, is it really that outrageous?
Here’s what I think: Kingsbury’s thought process is spot on; it’s the present and future of communication, and it isn’t going away any time soon.
It’s been reported that attention spans are shorter than ever, with some researchers pointing to eight seconds as the absolute limit that we can hold our focus. Yes, that’s shorter than a goldfish’s attention span. But it’s 100% false; in fact, researchers say it’s borderline impossible to measure attention spans because they are task dependent. There is no one number we can point to as the length of our attention.
Our need for a social media fix is not tied to some psychological or physiological change, it’s not that millennials and Gen Zers are too dumb to focus, it’s not that social media is a drug with addictive properties. Rather, this signals a change in how we all want to digest information. It’s not wrong or bad – it’s just different.
Companies that stay on the cutting edge and innovate their communication practices are the ones that will keep employees engaged and improve company culture. A very short time ago it was rude to be on your phone tweeting and posting photos to Instagram while someone was presenting at a conference; now, presenters encourage those actions to increase engagement on their social media platforms. It wasn’t too far in the past that companies asked employees to read myriad brochures, multi-page company announcements and sit in hours-long presentations; now, a two-minute video from the CEO accomplishes the same goal – to give employees important information.
No, you don’t have to start giving your employees social media breaks like Kingsbury – they can do that during lunch, short breaks between work, and after hours – but don’t dismiss the notion that employees in today’s corporate environment want quick communications that provide necessary information without disrupting their work. Don’t keep your company stuck in the past, because social media-style communication is here to stay.
For more information on how Vitiello Communications Group (VTLO) can help you create social media-style communications for business success, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 732-238-6622.
What do you think? How do you plan to bring this new-age communication style to your workplace?