I saw an interview on Real Time with Bill Maher with Tristan Harris about The Attention Economy and became fascinated with the topic. It’s clear that our behavior has changed and is being affected, thanks to the internet and to those devices we all carry around and check incessantly all day.

Understanding the concept of “The Attention Economy” is of great value when trying to understand how to design your small business website, and how to develop your content and content marketing.

The basic idea is this: we are all asked to give our attention to an ever-growing amount of content. But we only have so much attention to give. There are only so many hours in the day and we only have a finite amount of time to give attention to things.

Social media is asking for our attention constantly and social media networks understand what tricks to use to get our attention, pull us in a keep us there as long as possible.

You want users to pay attention to your small business website on their journey to making a purchasing decision.

But do you understand what gets and keeps people’s attention? Watch and learn! ????

The Attention Economy – How They Addict Us

Key thoughts & take-aways:

  • Social Media networks, as well as services like Netflix are focused on “creating a habit” – getting you to give them attention is their main goal. This is why blogging, email newsletters and your social media posts matter – you’re trying to become part of your audience’s digital habit.
  • Headlines have a huge impact – they are the first thing that gets our attention. Are you using compelling headlines that draw attention, or generic ones that repel attention?
  • It’s all about relevance – you can only keep someone’s attention with your content when it has relevance. Otherwise visitors stop giving you their attention and leave if your content is unfulfilling.
  • Social media posts are full of catchy headlines, and with ones like Facebook and twitter those headlines often precede links to other content – and where do those ads and links lead? To websites. So the network got your attention, and lead to the click, but what do they arrive at and does it keep their attention?
  • Users are constantly just responding to stimuli – but is your stimuli rewarding? How is your website and your content keeping them focused.
  • On average, we check our phones 221 times a day! Which means we are constantly looking for new stimuli…even if subconsciously. We’re looking for the dopamine rush that things like shares and likes give us. We also want to know what’s new, and we have FOMO (fear of missing out).

We all have the opportunity to use our voice in the attention economy. But is your voice being heard?
Are you losing people in seconds because you’ve failed to understand that attention is the first thing you actually are trying to get from them – not sales or a phone call, just simply their attention?

Then, from an ethical point of view, are you providing content that actually helps, and rewards users for giving you their attention? Or did you just create empty fluff that doesn’t pay-off on the attention they’ve given you? Or worse, created “Fake News” that misleads people. It will be hard for them to trust you again and want to give you their attention again if you are being manipulative.

So much to consider as you develop a web presence in this Brave New World.

Video segment from Real Time with Bill Maher, featuring Tristan Harris

More Resources:

The Attention Economy: Wikipedia

Five ways the “attention economy” is driving your business: Mark Schaefer

The Attention Economy: Why Some of Your Content Will Always Fail

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