The Digital Detox

Industry Insights


In 1971, the first email was sent. Fast forward over 40 years, social media has taken the world by storm. Reports have shown that on average, the UK online user spends 116 minutes of their day on social media. However, is this bubble about to burst?

As brands have woken up to the power of social media, it’s changed the way users interact with the web. So-called “brand content” bombards users across every platform, every minute of the day. The user has had enough, and taken control. Ofcom reported 15m UK internet users have undertaken a ‘digital detox’, causing an even bigger problem for those brands who rely on the user being active on social platforms.


As marketers, we fundamentally need our campaigns to reach the right audience. With users switching off, it’s never been more crucial to display finesse in our overall communications with our audience. That means not disrupting, but embedding our message into the user journey.


What can we do?

We may be doing it now, but effective micro-targeting and knowing our audiences’ media behaviour inside out are more important than ever when building our content. Understanding their habits and the intent behind why they go online and offline will confirm how we communicate in the right way, and at the right time. As we don’t have clear indications as to when they could ‘switch off’ at any given moment, we should not remove social content all together.

Some brands are even championing the ‘digital detox’. Chipotle launched their ‘Cultivate Thought’ series, a content partnership with a series of writers and comedians. In previous campaigns, social came first. Now, instore takes precedence for the campaign with social supporting. What was their reason for the change? They believed that, in store “their consumer could gain a little pause in an otherwise digital world”. During the campaign, footfall increased 20%.


The rising popularity of branded content in publications offers the opportunity to integrate storytelling moments without social being the main driver. leveraged this exact tactic when partnering with Time Out to create a branded content editorial series in every print edition to drive their brand awareness objective. Post campaign, research proved that consumers’ intent to use to plan their next trip increased 57% among users exposed to the Time Out series.


Final thoughts…

I can understand why our audience are feeling exhausted by what we push out as “content”; I am a target myself for a range of brands online. Endless amounts of content can be draining and turn the audience against those who deliver them. However, it would be naive for us to ignore the role and power of social. But with chaos and uncertainty that a ‘digital detox’ can bring, now is the time to build everything within our power to ensure that our work is not the reason they decide it’s time to take a break.


By Shrinka Ghosh – Account Director at Studio Black Tomato