The Attention Economy – Getting Your Blog Read In A Time Poor World
I was reading through a Noel Cunningham’s blog post the other day and he mentioned the Toilet Paper Entrepreneur. It’s a book I’d seen on Amazon many times and until I read the contextual mention of it in his post, I kid you not, I thought it was about some guy that made a fortune selling toilet rolls or something in the toilet industry. And before you roll out the toilet humor….these puns are killing me….it brings me on to my main point – the attention economy.
When there is way too much information circulating on the internet and traditional forms of media, people are time poor. They don’t have the time to make informed decisions, much like me in the example above.
If I was a potential buyer of the book mentioned (and I am), the first thing the people that are trying to sell the book have to do is grab my attention. Persuasion and influence can’t even begin until you have someones attention. In fact, I would say that being aware of how attentive your reader is may actually detract from the more hard core techniques involved in persuading someone to take a certain action.
The key concept when concerned with grabbing someones attention is relevancy. You can have shocking headlines or eye catching images, and these methods do work, but ultimately the content you offer has to be relevant.
Going back to the book example, I really think the title isn’t good. The word entrepreneur gets noticed but toilet paper doesn’t work for me. They might be working on the curiosity angle of the title but in a time poor world, I noticed things like The Fastlane Millionaire. As an internet marketer and someone trying to build an internet business the toilet paper connotation is just a turn off.
This might be shallow but that is exactly what the Attention economy is all about.
Typically readers will reader the headline. If the headline works they will read the next sentence which might get them to the end of the paragraph. The reader is a back button or a hyperlink away from doing something else at every sentence.
People will also skim read these days, especially on the internet.
The may even start at the bottom, read a few bullet points, cast an eye over an image on the page. Then they might return to the top. All this may be done in 5 to 10 seconds.
So what’s to be done to get your blog read in such an environment ?
Well, as already mentioned, you have to produce relevant content. This starts with knowing what you are writing about, what your audience wants to know about or have an interest in.
You won’t be able to please everyone all the time but it’s a best guess ultimately.
When you know what problems you want to solve with your writing things will get much easier.
This will help you identify your audience. It will also help you discover other people working in the same niche or solving the same problem. It may open up forums where the problem is discussed.
All this in depth research will certainly help you find related issues and further problems in the general niche that need to be answered.
After that, certain “cosmetic” ways in which you produce the content can also help retain a persons attention.
- For instance highlight certain words so that people can skim.
If they get the drift of the article just by skimming and they like what they skim, they are more likely to read the whole article. And even if they don’t read it completely, a skim is better than a back button click.
- Pictures also help people spend more time on your blog and may lead to them reading more.
- Quotes taken from the main article and highlighted in a Johnson box or bubble is also another technique designed for the skimmers. This is used in traditional magazines too.
- Having an unusual font can also help.
Whilst all these ideas can help, answering the problems your target audience has will make or break your blog. And that is were many people go wrong on blogs.