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February 05, 2010

In the Attention Economy, Context (not Content) is King

I've been on this Attention Economy kick for a while now. My first Inc.com column of the year talked about it a bit. But I really started thinking about it after writing an ebook (made possible by the folks at Sage SalesLogix) back in September titled Social CRM: From Information to Engagement - Trends for Reaching The Social Customer.

I started out the book with an estimate Google CEO Eric Schmidt made back in 2005 about how much information was on the web back then - approximately five million Terabytes. To me that's an incredible amount of information. But when you think about the year in which he made that estimation - before social media and smart phones really hit the masses - it's even more mind blowing to think of how much content is being created now.

Five years ago, even if the amount of information was five million Terabytes, I didn't feel as overwhelmed with information - not like I do now. In fact it still felt like I needed more. Which is why I believed in the mantra - Content is King.

Now, in the age of easy content creation, and easier content distribution, there's a new king in town... and his name is Context. In all reality, context has always been king, but many of us got swept up in content and all its glorious formats.

But now there's so much content (good, bad, ugly, etc.) that there's no way to keep up with it. Forget the bad and ugly, there's so much good content - especially from people I know and respect - that I can't get to it all. But when something's on my mind, I definitely make time for content that speaks to it. And I bet I'm not alone on this one.

There are people, blogs, magazines and newspapers (yeah i still read those things) that have amazing content, but if it's not aligned with my current needs I can't read/listen to/watch it until I've solved my immediate challenges. And if it I find something that helps me with that challenge, it doesn't have to be aesthetically attractive or use pretty prose - the beauty is in its ability to help me get past that obstacle.

So, in the age of pretty pictures and high definition videos, it's context that trumps everything. And from a business perspective, the context comes from those we're looking to do business with, which means we need to take a strategic approach to listening.

listening slide image.jpg

Listening can give us a better understanding of what's going on inside the minds of customers and prospects. It can provide valuable insights and give us the proper context for creating content that should captivate their attention, or at least give us a fighting chance.

In the Attention Economy....during the Social Age...if you had to boil it down to a simple equation, it might be something like this:

Context + Content = Conversation (and maybe Customers...)

So I'll go with Context being king, but Content can make your kingdom a lot bigger.

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