Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Attention Age

Has the Information Age given way to the Attention Age?

The Information Age offered the promise that the worldwide web would give us anything we wanted to know with the single click of a mouse.

But, it seems that time has passed.

You no longer need to search for information. It comes to you, like a runaway freight train based on your previous Google searches, iTunes buying history, Facebook profile and recently watched videos. We blog, tweet, upload and download up-to-the minute on iPhones and Blackberrys. Some estimate that by 2013 the quantity of information on the Internet will double roughly every 72 hours.

Welcome to the Attention Age, a period in human history in which information has become so abundant and readily available that the grabbing and keeping attention has become the most valuable commodity.

Fellow blogger, Mark Schaeffer, recently offered this short history lesson to help frame where we are at. It's easy to remember if you think of how we communicate in terms of: Evolution, Revolution, Contribution.

- Men on fast horses
- Town squares
- Printing press
- Mail
- Telephone
- Radio
- Television
- Internet
- Email
- Mobile
- Social web

There are two things to consider when it comes to social media:

1) This is two-way communication. Everything else on the list above is one-way. The message isn't being controlled by an author or a news anchor or an advertising executive. People are talking back. That's intense.

2) For the first time in human history, we have access to free, global, real-time communication. There is no other word to characterize the implication of this development but "profound."

The distinguishing characteristic of the social web that most resonates with people is "contribution." People are the publishers. If the content is coming from common people it's the social web. What are people publishing?

- Ideas
- Videos
- Opinions
- Criticisms
- Commentary
- Entertainment

Everybody publishes ... including folks vitally important to you like employees, customers, competitors, partners, suppliers, people who love you, and people who hate you. So don't you think you should be out there listening to these people? Learning from them? Serving them? And in the case of your competitor, pummeling them?

Does this post make you sit up and take notice?

Do you grasp the implications for your brand?

Hope it was worth the price of your attention.

“Why are we trying to measure social media like a traditional channel anyway? Social media touches every facet of business and is more an extension of good business ethics”
ERIK QUALMAN, author of “Socialnomics”

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