Time and attention are the next big fight in social

Steve Rubel presented an excellent talk at The Next Web recently and I highly recommend that you watch and absorb it. Rubel’s argument is that as most brands now post their content on Facebook and Twitter, the way that content is seen may not always reach its intended audience. Brands are “fighting” each other and individuals for attention.

Social marketers needs to understand that that the decay, or half life of a tweet, a Facebook update or posted video is incredibly short. Having compelling content is one thing, but making sure that content is timely for its intended audience is also a crucial factor. Here are some of the key points from the talk:

Economic Value is linked to attention

As content proliferates, it is all increasingly filtered through hyper-personalised social streams. Therefore, captivating attention is even more critical today for effecting a behaviour change.

The Digital space is infinite, yet time is finite

According to Google’s Eric Schmidt, the web fills with a deluge of new content equal to all the existed in either digital or analogue form prior to 2003. Yet, our time remains relatively finite, Attention doesn’t scale as noise escalates, content rapidly decays.

Twitter is recording 110 million tweets per day. However, like “wet snow,” they evaporate as almost soon as they hit the ground. This means your messages many never reach your intended audience. When your content is snowing, content has a shelf life shorter than milk.

Personalised Social Algorithms Curate

Every month than 30 billion pieces of content are shared globally on Facebook. Their EdgeRank algorithm curates art from junk in your feed based on personal affinities, content formats and timeliness.
Trust in the age of streams requires frequency

People need to hear things three to five times for it to effect a behaviour change. Therefore, you must craft a strong narrative and have it reverberate across both traditional and social news streams. 

Source: http://www.edelman.com/trust

How Twitter content decays

  • 71% of tweets get no reaction
  • 23% get an @ reply
  • 92% retweets are within the first hour
  • 85% of tweets with @ replies get just one
    Source: http://www.sysomos.com

How video content decays (Online video Attention Span)
>5 Minutes 9.42%
>3 Minutes 16.62%
>2 Minutes 23.71%
>60 Seconds 46.44%
>30 Seconds 66.16%
>20 Seconds 80.41%
>10 Seconds 89.61%
Source: http://www.tubemogul.com

Step One: Hand-Craft Your Content For Each Embassy

Networks aren’t homogeneous. Identify the micro communities driving the conversation, vary your content formats for each., deploy natives as ambassadors and maintain a robust content calendar.

Step Two: Activate Expert Employees as Thought Leaders

Experts and those in the know are among the most trusted. Digital thought leadership can break the space-time challenge. Make digital engagement 1% of 100 people’s role, not just 100% of one person’s job

Step Three: Tightly Integrate Owned and Social Assets

Social isn’t a channel. It’s a behaviour. People expect it everywhere. You can increase your social surface area by building such hooks into your site – and vice versa. Give stakeholders options.

Step One: Mindfulness Through Bifocal Awareness

Build an understanding of the world around you and the best times to engage by practicing mindfulness on two levels with situational and ambient awareness. These simple processes complement monitoring

Step Two: Optimize For The Best Times to Engage

Mining builds off mindfulness. Using an array of low-cost tools, businesses can determine
the idea times to engage. This includes engaging both at a macro level in a given network, like Twitter or Facebook, as well as within micro communities that are deep inside.

Thinking Digital 2011 – Nancy Duarte


“You have the power to change the world and the most powerful device to change the world is an idea”.

Nancy Duarte’s talk was one of those most engaging this year. She looked at how ideas are most effectively conveyed through storytelling. Nancy spent years researching into why we physically react to a story, but not to a presentation. Through the study of cinema and literature, she looked to find a better way to build presentations.

Stories are essentially made up of a three part structure:

  • A likable hero
  • Who encounters a roadblock
  • And emerges transformed

The TED talk above is essentially the same talk that she delivered at the conference, and looks at how Steve Jobs’ 2007 iPhone launch speech and Martin Luther King’s speech are overlayed to show the attributes of an engaging presentation. 

Thinking Digital 2011 – Erin McKean


Image Credit: Christian Payne

Erin McKean is a lexicographer and CEO of Wordnik and is passionate about words. Her talk discussed about how many of the features of today’s online dictionaries are skeuomorphs. During the transition from print to online, dictionaries have not evolved and still remain largely digital versions of their printed forms. Erin’s business hopes to reinvent the dictionary for the digital age. Wordnik is a site for everyday words and everything that is known about them. Wordnik users can add new words and edit the meaning of existing ones.  The site has become a discovery engine and can answer a variety of text based queries.

Erin is a TED fellow and her recent  talk about Wordnik can be seen below:

Thinking Digital 2011–The Firehose of Inspiration


This week I attended the Thinking Digital conference in Newcastle. The conference is organised by Herb  Kim and the Codeworks team, and brings together an amazing mix of innovation, technology and great speakers. In the next series of blog posts, I reflect back on two days of what I call the “The Firehose of Inspiration”. Thinking Digital is the highlight of my year and each year gets better and better.

Gerd Leonhard kicked off day 1 of the conference with a talk on the rapid flows of information. He discussed how common it has become for new stories to ‘break’ on Twitter, rather than regular broadcast media. Other key points discussed included: The number of connected devices is expected to grow to around 50 billion around the year 2020. Tomorrow’s challenge for brands, is not going to be distribution. Rather it will be a fight attention. Advertising will need to be re-thought to capture the hearts and mind of people. It will need to improve, so it becomes itself as useful content. 

My notes from the talk follow below:

  • By 2020, more than 50 billion devices will be connected to the Internet
  • A fight for attention and not distribution” is the next challenge for digital
  • Interactive television is the future, TV will evolve to be social – We are moving from the network (MTV) broadcaster, to networked broadcasting (YouTube etc).
  • Social networks are the broadcasters.
  • Data is the oil of the Internet and the new currency of the digital world (Everything we do generates data).
  • We are people of the cloud – accessing content through Spotify, Instapaper, Flipboard, Netflix, iPlayer etc. When we think media and marketing, we must think ‘Cloud’.
  • We are also people of the screen – digital comes first, objects and physical “stuff” is now coming second
  • Sharing is the default mindset of the digital generation and we consume differently
  • Collaborative consumption, there’s a shift today. The trend is not to OWN but to SHARE” e.g. Netflix, ZipCar, Boris Bikes etc.
  • We need a new public licensing standard – people usage rights
  • Twitter and the web is beating all other form of media
  • http://lastnightapp.com, The world’s first “morning-after” app that can erase your past
  • Locking things down is a death wish. If you don’t allow sharing, you will be toast
  • The future of media is bundling and upselling
  • The internet is a big copying machine so we need to rethink our approach to copyright
  • No longer is the web just about technical innovation, it’s now also about social innovation
  • On the web you can’t force people to buy, you have to attract people to buy
  • Think outside of the ivory tower
  • If copies are free – then need to sell something that can’t be copied – Kevin Kelly
  • Work out how to monetize customers who are living in the cloud

Gert’s free books, including Friction is Fiction and Music 2.0 are available to download here: http://gerd.fm/ibXx2G & http://www.musicfutures.com

Gert Leonhard’s presentation from Thinking Digital, can be seen below: