Overcoming Today’s Attention Deficit Challenge

Recently, an article appeared in my news feed that surprised me. The subject caused me to think that perhaps we have reached a new level of content generation, a level that we might not be able to absorb.

The article was an instructional piece about how to butter toast. That’s right – how to butter toast. There’s actually quite a bit of content on the topic, but I had not seen it, as I was pretty sure I had that task down pat (sorry).

Remember the term, Web 2.0? Some of my younger colleagues had never heard the term when I asked them. We don’t hear much about it these days because we’re living it. There are wide definitions of Web 2.0, but essentially it referred to a future state of the worldwide web with greater connectivity, user-generated content, social interaction and communication.

What we are witnessing now is the unintended byproduct of this concept: an avalanche of content. In fact, we now face a world with more content than attention. So, marketers and communications professionals find themselves at an inflection point – comprehending what’s relevant to their stakeholders, in order to gain attention and engender action, or continuing to just feed the content machine, so to speak, in the hopes that it actually motivates behavior and action beneficial to the brand or organization.

To achieve success, several critical questions must be addressed. Where does your target congregate online? Is your target getting their content passively or actively – is it finding them or are they looking for it? How do you stand out to them? Are they finding the content they seek? How do you create the right and best content and distribute it to the right place at the right time? How do you determine relevance for your topic, brand, company, etc.?

The good news is that information is more readily available than at any time in history. For marketers and communicators, the mandate is to dig deep, be thorough and know you have the right information for the right audiences in the right format at the right time. There is no need to guess anymore. The data is there and it’s verifiable. Starting with the right data, gathered by asking the right questions and then activating effectively is how we succeed in Web 2.0. (Note: being lured by pre-packaged programs using limited, or self-reported, data sets is a good way to end up with the wrong information, resulting in the wrong solution).

In our work, the biggest obstacle to generating and sustaining interest, increasing advocacy, and improving results is content. Many organizations can boast they have a full library of content, but few can employ it, given relevance, format and context.

There is a lot of content bombarding all of us in the Web 2.0 world. Getting your content in your target’s passive or active feeds is critical to capturing interest and initiating action to drive your business.

So, while buttering my toast better may make for a more fulfilling morning, something tells me either the content or the selection of my news feed to share it missed the mark completely!