Attention span drops to one second! New trend blows marketers’ imagination

In conversation with, industry experts shed the spotlight on leveraging the viral ‘one-second’ reel trend

Niveditha Kalyanaraman
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New Delhi: Every second, 4 babies are born, 2 people die, and Earth travels 18.5 miles through space. Now, add another to the list: an Instagram reel is created every second! 

Welcome to Instagram's 'goldfish attention' era, where reel durations have shrunk from a minute to mere seconds and even a single second.  

This shift has pushed digital marketers and content creators to multitask like never before, crafting snappy, captivating stories and eye-catching videos to grab attention and boost engagement in the blink of an eye. 

At a creator event in New York, Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri and the IG team presented one particular slide stating that reels longer than 90 seconds can hurt distribution. Taking it a stride forward, the Instagram algorithm has pushed reach for one-second reels.  

At first glance, it might seem like Instagram is running low on content and creativity. However, digital marketing agencies see this exhaustive trend differently, embracing the challenge with the mindset of "Why can't marketing be done in one second?" 

Alisha Furniturewalla, Vice President, Saatchi & Saatchi Propagate, resonates with the glamour of this popular trend as she expressed, “The one-second reel phenomenon on Instagram is a game-changer for digital marketers.

By crafting tiny, loopable stories that mesmerise and delight, brands can capture attention, build awareness, and drive action.”

Arijit Basu, Vice-President, Growth and Strategy at BC Web Wise, noted the attention-capture asset it brings to the table and highlighted how the trend has brought in the demand for the content creator to distil profound moments into instant, impactful stories in a blink. 

Tanvi Bosmia, Account Director, SoCheers opined that the trifecta benefits of ‘one-second reels’ hinge on time-saving, low-cost content, and high engagement. 

Addressing what ‘one second’ can do

Mayank Vora, co-founder of Logicloop, drew attention to the ‘replay’ factor of one-second reels that boosts viewership and adds to brand recall in its minimalistic way. 

He said, “There's at least one replay of the reel before the watch again button comes up, so even if it's a one-second reel with a loop, you end up gaining two seconds worth of watch time.”

He addressed this ‘trigger’ of the Instagram algorithm that ends up pushing this content further. 

Shifting the narrative from what ‘one second’ can do to your brands to what brands can do in ‘one second,’ industry experts believe that one-second content thrives on the power of ‘looping’ to bolster engagement.  

Talking about creating content for a second, Sethi highlighted that brands should balance quick, eye-catching content with meaningful engagement.  

He added, “These short clips can create fun and lighthearted moments, but they shouldn't lose depth. Using impactful visuals, concise messaging, and staying true to the brand helps boost awareness and engagement while building genuine connections that support long-term goals.” 

Urvashi Khanna, VP, Content and Brand Solutions, Asymmetrique called the trend ‘GIF in video format’ and talked about the'repurposingg’ factor that the trend adds. She added that brands can repurpose their long-form content to suit the one-second timeframe, while in the long run, it can be exhaustive.  

She expressed that such reels are equivalent to the ‘unskippable ads’ audiences are subjected to on YouTube, except they don’t disrupt the audience’s viewing experience.  

For digital marketers to effectively harness the power of one-second reels, they need to focus on concise storytelling, visuals that pop, and sounds that resonate, said Furniturewalla.  

“We shouldn't be afraid to experiment with creative formats, like seamless loops that keep viewers engaged,” she added.  

According to Bosmia, creative copy, like short, punchy text overlays, can further entice viewers to stay and learn more. However, the key is to keep the post's copy concise as well. 

She added, “Imagine teasing a question or challenge in the reel, then directing viewers to the caption for the full story. This strategy leverages the reel's ability to spark curiosity and drive viewers to your post for a deeper dive, ultimately boosting engagement and brand visibility.” 

All is not green in ‘one-second-ville’

Addressing the coal lining of this super dynamic silver cloud, Prateek Sethi, founder of TRIP Creative agency, called the trend “the memory of a goldfish" and highlighted its lack of value addition.  

Sethi added, “While they may boost engagement metrics, their true value in building lasting connections is questionable. In digital marketing, one-second reels can quickly grab attention and increase visibility, but their effectiveness in fostering meaningful engagement and brand loyalty is limited.” 

Manish Solanki, COO and Co-Founder, TheSmallBigIdea, admitted that the trend won't significantly impact long-term brand value and can be leveraged for a bit of lighthearted content. 

Himanshu Arora, co-founder of SocialPanga, addressed the major flaw that the timeframe of one second will not be enough for brands to communicate with a larger audience.  

While established brands have an edge over brand recall in a limited timeframe, brands that are starting out may bite the dust unless their content shines.  

Arora also called the trend a way brands can ‘hack’ the Instagram algorithm for views and reach while that’s all they get in the bargain.  

Imagining a future for the one-second trend, Bosmia added that this format might evolve into bite-sized teasers for larger campaigns or content, or even influencer marketing with lightning-fast brand collaborations.  

Challenges of the ‘ek second’ content phenomenon 

While enriching reach and engagement, one-second reels have their own claws of steel when it comes to creating the said content.  

Basu opined that the one-second reel trend tests the boundaries of imagination, with the limited time making it extremely challenging to capture the depth and emotion of storytelling.  

In tandem with this, Vora expressed that creating content that fits the timeframe as well as concludes your brand’s communication can be challenging. He envisages the nature of the content to be hook-worthy and ‘teasing’ in order to achieve the necessary virality that boards well with the brand.  

Sethi addressed the mortality of the trend and called it a challenge to make content that is memorable and meaningful that can still evoke emotion and prompt action.

digital marketing Instagram Reels