When social scientist Herbert Simon came up in 1971 with the concept later branded as “attention economics,” how could he have known that getting fly-by surfers to stop and pay attention would be the bane of existence for those of us cranking out content for one or another of the 135 million web sites that currently exist?
Getting information onto your site may be the easiest thing you have to tackle. How do you get people to pay attention?
The topic surfaced at a recent panel on writing about technology for consumers, co-hosted by Yahoo! and Media Bistro. The experts included journalists and editors from newspapers, magazines, web sites and television stations. In spite of the fact that the audience consisted of writers, editors and PR folks, the advice applies to anybody out to game the system to their advantage.
1. “Invent a meme, then write a book on that meme.” This from Wired’s Nancy Miller. That’s what happened for Nicole Stich, delicious days, and Penelope Trunk, Brazen Careerist.
2. “Becoming famous for something is going to be your answer,” according to Tom Abate, business reporter from the San Francisco Chronicle. “Become the most knowledgeable person on [a] subject and hope that fortune follows fame…”
3. Target women. “Women represent a new gold standard in the marketplace. In study after study, women bring a very different sensitivity to technology. If it’s new or cool, that’s not good enough. It has to be very usable.” This from Patrick Houston, VP of Content and Programming for Yahoo! Lifestyles.
4. “Community is integral.” Houston again. “If you wanted to distinguish yourself, become a gathering point around which a community will gather.”
5. “Be accurate.” This from Rusty Weston, founder of blog site My Global Career. Give scant thought to getting your facts right and your online standing will suffer a humiliating virtual bludgeoning that can besmirch your first life too.
6. Provide information people can’t find easily on Yahoo or Google. This from Janelle Wang, co-host of “The View from the Bay” on ABC7. “That will set us apart from other TV stations. We’re trying to be more specific that way — to build our reputation that way.” Understand your community well and be prepared to tackle a given topic from their unique perspective.
7. Get locked into a person’s “ritual.” Miller again “People are ritualized about the way they go to the Internet. How you get locked into that person’s ritual is up to you.” That frequently requires engaging them using — yes — entertainment. As Abate added, “Whenever I write a story today, [I ask myself] what is the image I’m going to attach to this story? If I can’t get a strong image… it won’t be effective.”
Have you figured out a unique way to get attention to your site?