A couple of weeks ago, I logged into Facebook to see a story about Kylie Jenner’s extravagant 18th birthday. This was followed by a story about the Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yousafazai who opened a school for Syrian refugees. Then more frivolous articles like BuzzFeed’s “We Know Who Your Sex and the City Kindred Spirit Is” and “Six Knife Tricks That Will Change Your Life”.
What does all this mean? Why do we scroll through hundreds of articles about reality stars but hardly spend a moment reading about a teenage Nobel Prize winner performing remarkable deeds? This is where the ‘attention economy’ comes in.
Let me explain. Attention economics is the notion that we are overloaded with information and attention is a scarce commodity. Basically, we’ve got access to more information than ever before, but no more time or attention to give.
- 55 per cent of visitors will spend a mere 15 seconds on a website.
- On the average webpage, users have time to read at most 28 per cent of the words during a visit.
This concept is critical to content marketers. When new content is published, you’re placing a bid in the attention auction. And guess what? Not everyone can win.
The attention economy has radically transformed the marketing and advertising spheres. It is no longer about gaining information, only attention. This is why we are bombarded with advertising messages every day. “The quality of that attention doesn’t matter,” writes author and blogger Mark Manson. “What matters is the attention. That attention is an asset, the most valuable asset in the new economy.”
So why do some pieces of content garner more attention than others?
I’ve been thinking long and hard about this question, and I’ve come to the conclusion there’s no ‘silver bullet’ to gaining attention. Elisa Gabbert from WordStream echoes this sentiment. She says there are “two hard truths about the attention economy”:
1. Attention is to some extent random.
2. Eventually you hit the attention ceiling.
“Great content usually doesn’t lead immediately to leads or sales,” Gabbert says. “It’s a more meandering process.”
To convert a lead into a sale, you have to be patient in developing a relationship and trust with the audience. Additionally, if you have a successful piece of content, try to reproduce it to gain the same result. And if you fail, don’t give up! Attention usually comes in waves – if you have great content, spread it out in order to garner the most attention.
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